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Einstein's Dreams Hardcover – Jan 1993

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon Books; 1st Edition edition (Jan. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679416463
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679416463
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 2.2 x 18.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 247,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A joy...It stimulates the intellect. It bridges disciplines by linking intellectual understanding with the kind of relaxing enjoyment to be expected from a good novel (The Economist)

A joy to read. It is a celebration of a world in which time does not march brutally through people's lives, but rather skips and gambols, forever quirky and unpredictable (The Times)

It is at once intellectually provocative and touching and comic and so very beautifully written. Quite frankly I haven't been so excited by a novel, let alone a first novel, for a very long time (Salman Rushdie)

A dazzling first novel...entirely original (The Sunday Times) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Alan Lightman's highly acclaimed first novel, a dazzling synthesis of fiction and science. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Suppose time is a circle, bending back on itself. Read the first page
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Sir Furboy on 9 Oct. 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After going to the trouble of importing a copy of this book from America through Amazon Marektplace (as it seems to be hard to obtain outside of the US), I was rather disappointed - and perhaps a little clearer as to why it's not readily available in the UK!

This book contains a series of dreams of imaginary worlds with a very different conception of time. Each chapter then is a thought experiment - but what I would have liked to see is some theme or character or reason why I should be carried through the thought experiments. There was no binding theme, and thus the book could better have been reduced to a list: Imagine a world where time is like X, Imagine a world where time is like Y and so on.

Maybe a poem on time would have been better than a whole book here.

It was not totally uninteresting, but neither did I feel it greatly profound. reading about Einstein in depth makes you more aware of the profound nature of time. reading popular physics books like "The Elegant Universe" likewise.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Sept. 1999
Format: Paperback
Ever complain that you don't have enough time, that you have too much time on your hands or wonder where will you find the time? Well before you can do that you might want to consider not just what time is but what possible times there are. Confused ? Well Alan Lightman's imaginative book will help you with the later and provide you with a very enjoyable ..time. Using a young Einstein as his spring board he has our budding genius wandering about Bern thinking of various different types of time and how a world running on those systems might operate.Lest you think this is a dull academic exercise it is not. Lightman's prose ever flows and never gets bogged down. Each chapter ends before you realize it and you wish it would continue on. The touch of the poet is also evident in his writing. The imagination here is of a type that would compare favorably with Borges. The book is relatively short but it is the kind of hidden treasure that you will find yourself rereading often. It is well worth your...time.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By "funkittens" on 28 Oct. 2003
Format: Paperback
Not as it first seems! I thought that I would be bored from the begining of this book, how wrong I was. This challenges your ideas about time while still telling a damn good story about Einstein trying to develop his theories. It has since become one of my favourite books and is well worth a read.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 6 May 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book deserves many more than five stars for its potential to make you a better thinker!!
One of the most creative people I know (holder of dozens of patents that have created two new industries) first told me about this book. He said that Einstein's Dreams was better for stimulating new ideas than any other book he had ever read. Naturally, I added the book to my list . . . but didn't get around to it right away. That was a mistake! I found Einstein's Dreams better for stimulating creativity than all other creativity books I have read combined. I wish I had read Einstein's Dreams when it first came out.
Einstein, of course, was famous for this "thought experiments" in which he would imagine what would happen if he were placed in different circumstances. For example, what if he were riding on a photon of light? What would happen if he shined a flashlight ahead of him? How would someone riding on a parallel photon of light perceive his flashlight if he flashed it toward the other person?
The result of most of these thought experiments was to understand the nature of time, and to create his famous special and general theories of relativity. (If you want to know more about this subject, be sure to check out Professor Stephen Hawking's latest, The Universe in a Nutshell.)
Alan Lightman has created a novel built around 30 "dreams" (or scenarios) that make differing assumptions about time, and describe how the lives of ordinary people living in Switzerland in 1905 would be changed. In the process, you will probably have several epiphanies. For example, so much of the way we run our lives depends on the fact that time runs forward in what normally seems like a linear, predictable way . . . but without giving us certainty about what happens next in our lives.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is not a theoretical book packed with equations, in fact it's a fascinating novel that imagines the dreams that Einstein may have had during 1905 whilst he worked to develop his general theory of relativity.

It is a short book, written in 30 or so brief chapters, each of which views time through perspectives of different worlds and how these affect the lives of people within these worlds.
There are worlds where time exists only in the present, with no future or past, worlds where time stands still, or is perceived differently by each individual. Worlds where time is never ending and lives go on for ever.

Though woven together loosely around a period in Einstein's life, the chapters each stretch our perception of what time is and our reaction to it, and in doing so our understanding of change, and the paradoxes that emerge. For example when our lives are infinitely long, there is time to do everything, to live every life we can imagine. For some this means there is no incentive to do anything, there will always be tomorrow. For others it is the invitation to fill every moment with new experience.

This is an easily read book, but one that will provoke your thinking and may leave a lasting impression. It teaches about time, but also about how our thinking can become locked in one mode and become blind to the many ways to see and understand a situation.

I suspect that it is a book that I will return to, both to resample the ideas that it presents, and the lesson it carries of how complex ideas can be very effectively conveyed through thought provoking stories.
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