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Alan P. Lightman (born November 28, 1948) is a physicist, novelist and essayist. He is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of the international bestseller Einstein's Dreams.
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- The relationship between science and the humanities is two-way. Science changes our view of the world and our place in it. In the other direction, the humanities provide the store of ideas and images and language available to us in understanding the world. The exploding star of A.D. 1054, the Crab Nebula, was sighted and documented by the Chinese, but nowhere mentioned in the West, where the Aristotelian notion of the immortality of stars still held sway. We often do not see what we do not expect to see.
- Great Ideas in Physics : The Conservation of Energy, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the Theory of Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics (2000), p. 4
- In the 1950s, academics forecast that as a result of new technology, by the year 2000 we could have a twenty-hour workweek. Such a development would be a beautiful example of technology at the service of the human being. ...According to the Bureau of Statistics, the goods and services produced per hour of work in the United States has indeed more than doubled since 1950. ...However, instead of reducing the workweek, the increased efficiencies and productivities have gone into increasing the salaries of workers. ...Workers... rather have used their increased efficiencies and resulting increased disposable income to purchase more material goods. ...Indeed, in a cruel irony, the workweek has actually lengthened. ...More work is required to pay for more consumption, fueled by more production, in an endless, vicious circle.
- A Sense of the Mysterious : Science and the Human Spirit (2005), p. 200
Quotes about Alan Lightman
- … Dr. Lightman was an astrophysicist, a card-carrying wizard of space and time, with a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology and subsequent posts at Cornell and Harvard. In 1989, at the peak of his prowess as a physicist, he began to walk away from the world of black holes to enter the world of black ink and the uncertain, lonely life of the writer.
- Dennis Overbye, (February 2020)"Time Is Still a Mystery to ‘Einstein’s Dreams’ Author". The New York Times.
- Lightman's Website at MIT
- The Harpswell Foundation
- Reviews of Einstein's Dreams
- Interview with Robert Birnbaum of Identitythory.com (7 October 2003)
- Online audio interview with NPR about science and art (6 Mary 2005)
- A Sense of the Mysterious, New York Times (13 February 2005)
- Lightman's work in Cambodia featured in The International Herald Tribune (19 November 2007)
- On Point Interview with Tom Ashbrook (27 November 2007)
- Interview on NPR's Radio Lab about nature of science (12 January 2009)
- Alan Lightman speaks with Jenny Attiyeh on Thoughtcast about his new book, Ghost (1 November 2009)
- Mention by David Brooks, in The New York Times (20 December 2011)
- Interview in the Atlantic about novel Mr g (25 January 2012)
- Interview on CBSNews about novel Mr g, (24 January 2012)
- Interview with Anthony Brooks on NPR/WBUR about science and religion (7 February 2012)
- Interview in Boston Globe (12 February 2012)
- Interview in the National Post of Canada (27 February 2012)
- Garrison Keillor's birthday salute to Lightman on NPR (28 November 2012)
- Telling stories about Richard Feynman and childhood rocket adventures, Story Collider (6 October 2013)
- Interview with Mitzi Rapkin, Aspen Public Radio (27 January 2014)
- Interview with Anthony Brooks on NPR/WBUR about The Accidental Universe (31 January 2014)
- Talk at Harvard Bookstore (19 March 2014)
- Interview with Trevor Quirk, Harper's Magazine (29 March 2014)
- Interview with Michael Segal of Nautilus magazine (August 2014)
- Interviews with exceptional thinkers, Eximia (January 2019)