Einstein’s Dreams - Alan Lightman
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.
If you want to stretch your thinking and explore what might grow in the new space created, I highly recommend this book.
January 25 2005