Einstein's Dreams

Einstein's Dreams

Book - 2004
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A modern classic, Einstein's Dreams is a fictional collage of stories dreamed by Albert Einstein in 1905, about time, relativity and physics. As the defiant but sensitive young genius is creating his theory of relativity, a new conception of time, he imagines many possible worlds. In one, time is circular, so that people are fated to repeat triumphs and failures over and over. In another, there is a place where time stands still, visited by lovers and parents clinging to their children. In another, time is a nightingale, sometimes trapped by a bell jar.

Now translated into thirty languages, Einstein's Dreams has inspired playwrights, dancers, musicians, and painters all over the world. In poetic vignettes, it explores the connections between science and art, the process of creativity, and ultimately the fragility of human existence.
Publisher: New York : Vintage Contempories, 2004
Edition: 1st Vintage Contempories ed
ISBN: 9781400077809
140007780X
Branch Call Number: FICTION Lightman
Characteristics: 140 p. : ill. ; 21 cm

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blackarrows7954
Aug 21, 2020

I really enjoyed the way Lightman used short stories for each of Einstein's theories. A lot of Einstein's theories are very abstract and obscure, but this book does a very good job in explaining each theory with hypothetical stories. I have never learned about Einstein's theories in depth, so it really gave me some idea of theories that Einstein has formulated. The plot of each story is in no way related, which sort of takes away from the whole book. Also, some of the information is no way detailed or accurate, but it does provide a basic understanding of the theories. I would recommend this book for its information rather than the plot, as the plot is underdeveloped.

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CPLannie
Aug 03, 2020

Throughly enjoyed this book; and of course, it was suggested to me. Some may not think of it as science fiction; but most assuredly, it is that, and wonderful. Excellent, from cover to cover, it is in the same league as Mr. Bradbury.

IndyPL_SteveB Jun 30, 2019

A surprising little collection of thoughts about how humans interact with time. The cover says that it’s “a novel;” but it’s really a collection of vignettes. The author’s artifice is that while Einstein is working on his essay on the nature of time in 1905, this contemplation causes him to have dreams about how time might work differently.

In one story, there is a place where time stands still, and it is occupied by parents who don’t want their children to grow up and lovers who don’t want to part. In another world, people are immortal and this conception of time divides people in Laters and Nows. The Laters reason that there is no hurry to accomplish anything, because in “an infinite span of time … all things can be accomplished.” The Nows are always doing new things because “with infinite lives, they can do all they can imagine.”

In some worlds, time bounces around so you cannot tell what is cause and what is effect. In another, time goes more slowly in some places than others. If you move to a different place, hundreds of years may pass in the place you left while only a year may seem to pass for you.

This is not a physics novel, discussing the nature of time itself. Instead it is closer to philosophy than to science. This book is quite thought-provoking and would be great for small group discussions.

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RebelBelle13
Jun 27, 2019

This was a little strange, but ultimately mildly enjoyable. I didn't realize exactly what this was going into the book, but figured it was quite short, and Einstein is always of interest, so I thought I would give it a try. What Einstein's Dreams contains is musings about what the constant of time might be like in other dimensions. Lightman touches on dimensions and worlds where time flows differently than our own experience, or even not at all. He talks about places where time flows backwards. Where people live only a day, and one where they live forever. One where time flows differently in each city. One where the faster you move, the slower you age, and what those worlds might be like. They are short chapters in which time is the only difference between them, and the sole focus. It certainly makes you think and reflect on how we see time and our own lives.

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mnack_0
Apr 04, 2019

I picked this up thinking such a little book I could whip through it in a couple of nights. Wrong!! Each little chapter presents another 'thought experiment' about how time does - or does not - march forward. Interesting and thought-provoking. Not a quick read!!

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sgcf
Oct 05, 2018

Hmm, maybe I didn’t “get it”, but this book did not engage me. Although Lightman’s remarkable imagination conjures dozens of possible scenarios about how time might behave, it is strung together with the thinnest of threads as Einstein creates his theory of relativity. No thread of characters or plot tying it together. It seemed more like a list with each item expanded to three or four pages, and my mind wandered.

laurendouglass May 18, 2018

One of my favorites. A unique way to think about different models for space/time by using short stories based in that world.

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wyenotgo
Feb 14, 2016

Although designated as a novel, this is actually a piece of sheer whimsy. Elegantly engaging prose, vivid imagery. A whole series of "what if time as we understand it doesn't really function that way at all" scenarios. Or what if time is just a conceit that humans have conjured up to explain the cosmos to ourselves, and does not really exist at all?
I find myself wondering what the author's motivation was in writing this. Perhaps, as a physics professor, he got tired of trying to explain abstruse concepts to his classes and this was his way of releasing his frustration. Or perhaps he has gotten a bit too closely involved with some of his students' recreational pursuits, aided by their favorite brand of weed ....
I doubt if he intended for the book to be taken seriously as other than a piece of recreational artistry.

MIT physics professor Alan Lightman could have written a purely science or philosophical first book with authority. Instead, he made his debut with this delightful series of short stories from the perspective of a dreaming young Einstein. Each vignette explores time, physics and existence. It's the perfect bedtime read. Recommended by Michele

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stewstealth
Oct 07, 2014

Through the prism of Albert Einstein's fictionalized dreams the author tasks the reader to look at how we view time and how that affects our lives. A short book if you are interested in it.

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blackarrows7954
Aug 21, 2020

blackarrows7954 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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KKPGIRL
May 07, 2012

KKPGIRL thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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