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"Alan Lightman brings a light touch to heavy questions. Here is a book about nesting ospreys, multiple universes, atheism, spiritualism, and the arrow of time. Throughout, Lightman takes us back and forth between ordinary occurrences--old shoes and entropy, sailing far out at sea and the infinite expanse of space. "In this slight volume, Lightman looks toward the universe and captures aspects of it in a series of beautifully written essays, each offering a glimpse at the whole from a different perspective: here time, there symmetry, not least God. It is a meditation by a remarkable humanist-physicist, a book worth reading by anyone entranced by big ideas grounded in the physical world."--Peter L. Galison, Joseph Pellegrino University Professor, Harvard Universityly a tiny piece of the extraordinary, perhaps unfathomable whole.
These selected essays tackle an issue that is significant in the present. - How addicted are people to technology? Some essays are intimate. This collection celebrates the essays as an independent genre.
If, as Matt Ridley suggests, science is simply the search for new forms of ignorance, then perhaps it follows that with science's advances come new questions. Will human genetic engineering become commonplace? Will human cloning ever be safe? Are there many universes? How much will the climate change during the coming century? The Best American Science Writing 2002 gathers top writers and scientists covering the latest developments in the fastest-changing, farthest-reaching scientific fields, such as medicine, genetics, computer technology, evolutionary psychology, cutting-edge physics, and the environment. Among this year's selections: In "The Made-to-Order Savior," Lisa Belkin spotlights two desperate families seeking an unprecedented cure by a medically and ethically unprecedented means -- creating a genetically matched child. Margaret Talbot's "A Desire to Duplicate" reveals that the first human clone may very likely come from an entirely unexpected source, and sooner than we think. Michael Specter reports on the shock waves rippling through the field of neuroscience following the revolutionary discovery that adult brain cells might in fact regenerate ("Rethinking the Brain"). Christopher Dickey's "I Love My Glow Bunny" recounts with sly humor a peculiar episode in which genetic engineering and artistic culture collide. Natalie Angier draws an insightful contrast between suicide terrorists and rescue workers who risk their lives, and finds that sympathy and altruism have a definite place in the evolution of human nature, David Berlinski's "What Brings a World into Being?" ponders the idea of biology and physics as essentially digital technologies, exploring the mysteries encoded in the universe's smallest units, be they cells or quanta. Nicholas Wade shows how one of the most controversial books of the year, The Skeptical Environmentalist, by former Greenpeace member and self-described leftist Bjorn Lomborg, debunks some of the most cherished tenets of the environmental movement, suggesting that things are perhaps not as bad as we've been led to believe. And as a counterpoint, Darcy Frey's profile of George Divoky reveals a dedicated researcher whose love of birds and mystery leads to some sobering discoveries about global warming and forcefully reminds us of the unsung heroes of science: those who put in long hours, fill in small details, and take great trouble. In the end, the unanswered questions are what sustain scientific inquiry, open new frontiers of knowledge, and lead to new technologies and medical treatments. The Best American Science Writing 2002 is a series of exciting reports from science's front lines, where what we don't know is every bit as important as what we know.
Today's most prominent thinkers provide enlightening insight into some of the most important and cutting-edge topics in the field in this acclaimed series.
The author of Einstein's Dreams now presents a collection of essays, written over the past 20 years, that displays his genius for bringing literary and scientific concerns into ringing harmony. Sometimes provocative, sometimes fanciful, always elegantly conceived and written, these meditations offer readers a fascinating look into the creative compulsions shared by the scientist and the artist. Reading tour.From the Trade Paperback edition.
An extraordinarily accessible, illuminating chronicle of the great moments of scientific discovery in the 20th century, and an exploration into the minds of the remarkable men and women behind them. We know and read the literary masterpieces; how many of us have had the opportunity not only to read but understand the masterpieces of science that describe the very moment of discovery? The last century has seen an explosion of creativity and insight that led to breakthroughs in every field of science: from the theory of relativity to the first quantum model of the atom to the mapping of the structure of DNA, these discoveries profoundly changed how we understand the world and our place in it. Alan Lightman tells the stories of two dozen breakthroughs made by such brilliant scientists as Einstein, Bohr, McClintock and Pauling, among others, drawing on his unique background as a scientist and novelist to reveal the process of scientific discovery at its greatest. He outlines the intellectual and emotional landscape of each discovery, portrays the personalities and human drama of the scientists involved, and explains the significance and impact of the work. Finally, he gives an unprecedented and exhilarating guided tour through each of the original papers.
Now available: New signed, boxed edition!An imaginary re-creation of Einstein's discovery of the nature of time, this novel takes us through the young patent clerk's many dreams depicting compelling conceptions of time.From the Hardcover edition.
Selected essays on the theories of Einstein and others in the twentieth century
Alan Lightman's first novel,Einstein's Dreams,became an international best seller and was hailed by Salman Rushdie as "at once intellectually provocative and touching and comic and so very beautifully written. " His novelThe Diagnosis,called "highly original and imaginative" by theNew York Times,was a finalist for the National Book Award. Now comes a stunning and disturbing new novel about a man's encounter with the unfathomable. David is a person of modest ambitions who works in a bank, lives in a ro...
From the author of the best-selling Einstein's Dreams comes a wonderfully original, deeply moving, and wryly funny novel about the clash between the absolutes of science and the vagaries of human experience. Bennett always knew he would live a life of science. From the homemade rockets and experiments of his childhood to the complex equations he solved as a professor of physics, his vision has transformed the uncertainty and frailty of life into an order and beauty that he inhabits with deep satisfaction. But his vision betrays him, revealing a profound incompleteness, an inadequacy to confront the contradictions his life: the black maid who raises him and loves him but cannot welcome him into her own house, the mentally absent father who wishes he'd died a hero in World War II, the self-destructive wife who invites Bennett's cruelty. As Bennett struggles between reason and intuition, he slowly learns to allow the imperfections of daily life--the chaos he has worked so hard to control--to broaden his understanding of the world and his place in it. Written with lyrical sparseness, hilarity mixed with sadness, the story of Bennett's struggle becomes both a beautifully rendered portrait of the emotional life of a scientist and a resonant tale of the disillusionment that haunts us all.From the Hardcover edition.
Group of essays presented in this book provide a short-term and a long-term analysis of technological progress made by the society. The book raises some question regarding living standard. These essays raise some profound philosophical questions on progress and the human condition that the progress embodies.
"As I remember, I had just woken up from a nap when I decided to create the universe." So begins Alan Lightman's playful and profound new novel, Mr g, the story of Creation as told by God. Barraged by the constant advisements and bickerings of Aunt Penelope and Uncle Deva, who live with their nephew in the shimmering Void, Mr g proceeds to create time, space, and matter. Then come stars, planets, animate matter, consciousness, and, finally, intelligent beings with moral dilemmas. Mr g is all powerful but not all knowing and does much of his invention by trial and error.Even the best-laid plans can go awry, and Mr g discovers that with his creation of space and time come some unforeseen consequences--especially in the form of the mysterious Belhor, a clever and devious rival. An intellectual equal to Mr g, Belhor delights in provoking him: Belhor demands an explanation for the inexplicable, requests that the newly created intelligent creatures not be subject to rational laws, and maintains the necessity of evil. As Mr g watches his favorite universe grow into maturity, he begins to understand how the act of creation can change himself, the Creator.With echoes of Calvino, Rushdie, and Saramago, combining science, theology, and moral philosophy, Mr g is a stunningly imaginative work that celebrates the tragic and joyous nature of existence on the grandest possible scale.
Biographies and contributions based on interviews.
At fifty-two, Charles is a professor at a minor 'leafy little college', a once promising poet, divorced, admiring of passion but without passion himself. Out of impulse, he decides to attend his thirtieth college reunion - and there magically witnesses a replay of his last year in college. Thirty years ago, Charles, then a romantic and tender twenty-two year-old, had fallen obsessively in love with a beautiful dancer. Drawn back into his past like a moth to a flame, he recalls his love affair played out amidst the social and political chaos of the late 1960s. Struggling with memories that often appear contradictory, Charles confronts once again the series of devastating events that forever changed his life. . .
From the acclaimed author of the international best seller Einstein's Dreams, here is a stunning, lyrical memoir of Memphis from the 1930s through the 1960s that includes the early days of the movies and a powerful grandfather whose ghost remains an ever-present force in the lives of his descendants. Alan Lightman's grandfather M.A. Lightman was the family's undisputed patriarch: it was his movie theater empire that catapulted the Lightmans to prominence in the South, his fearless success that both galvanized and paralyzed his children and grandchildren. In this moving, impressionistic memoir, the author chronicles his return to Memphis in an attempt to understand the origins he so eagerly left behind forty years earlier. As aging uncles and aunts begin telling family stories, Lightman rediscovers his southern roots and slowly recognizes the errors in his perceptions of both his grandfather and his father, who was himself crushed by M.A. The result is an unforgettable family saga that extends from 1880 to the present, set against a throbbing century of Memphis--the rhythm and blues, the barbecue and pecan pie, the segregated society--and including personal encounters with Elvis, Martin Luther King Jr., and E. H. "Boss" Crump. At the heart of it all is a family haunted by the memory of its domineering patriarch and the author's struggle to understand his conflicted loyalties.(With black-and-white illustrations throughout.)From the Hardcover edition.
From the bestselling author of Einstein's Dreams comes this lyrical and insightful collection of science writing that delves into the mysteries of the scientific process and exposes its beauty and intrigue.In these brilliant essays, Lightman explores the emotional life of science, the power of imagination, the creative moment, and the alternate ways in which scientists and humanists think about the world. Along the way, he provides in-depth portraits of some of the great geniuses of our time, including Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Edward Teller, and astronomer Vera Rubin. Thoughtful, beautifully written, and wonderfully original, A Sense of the Mysterious confirms Alan Lightman's unique position at the crossroads of science and art.From the Trade Paperback edition.ly written, A Sense of the Mysterious confirms Alan Lightman's unique position at the crossroads of science and art.From the Hardcover edition.
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