ALAN LIGHTMAN. EINSTEIN’S DREAMS. Alan Lightman was born in Memphis,. Tennessee, in and educated at. Princeton and at the California Institute. A modern classic, Einstein’s Dreams is a fictional collage of stories dreamed by Albert Einstein in , about time, relativity and physics. As. “Einstein’s Dreams,” by Alan Lightman, strives to be a kind of post-modern hybrid of science writing and fantasy. It stands partly in the tradition.
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Lightman – Einstein’s Dreams. Post on Dec 33 views. Lughtman re-search papers in physics have appearedin numerous scientific journals. Einsteins Dreams was an inter-national bestseller and The Diagnosiswas a finalist for the NationalBook Award in fiction.
Lightman hasserved on the faculties of HarvardUniversity and of the Massachusetts In-stitute of Technology, where he is cur-rently an adjunct professor ofhumanities. Vintage and colophon einsteon registered trade-marks and Vintage Contemporaries is a trade-mark of Random House, Inc. The Library of Congress has cataloged the Pan-theon edition as follows: Theyoung man slumps at his desk.
He hascome to the office at dawn, after anoth-er upheaval. His hair is uncombed andhis trousers are too big. In his hand heholds twenty crumpled pages, his newtheory of time, which he lightmqn mailtoday to the German journal of physics. Tiny sounds from the city driftthrough the room. A milk bottle clinkson a stone.
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An awning is cranked in ashop on Marktgasse. A vegetable cartmoves slowly through a street.
A manand woman talk in hushed tones in anapartment nearby. In the dim light that seeps throughthe room, the desks appear shadowyand soft, like large sleeping animals.
Except for the young mans desk, whichis cluttered with half-opened books, thetwelve oak desks are all neatly coveredwith documents, left from the previousday. Lithtman arriving in two hours, eachclerk will know precisely where to be-gin. Delri at this moment, in this dimlight, the documents on the desks dlei more visible than the clock in thecorner or the secretarys stool near thedoor.
All that can be seen at this mo-ment are the shadowy shapes of thedesks and the hunched form of theyoung man. Minute by minute,new objects gain form.
Here, a brasswastebasket appears. There, a calendaron a wall. Here, a family photograph, abox of paper clips, an inkwell, a pen. There, a typewriter, a jacket folded ona chair. In time, the ubiquitous book-shelves emerge from the night mist thathangs on the walls.
The bookshelveshold notebooks of patents. One patentconcerns a new drilling gear with teethcurved in a pattern to minimize fric-tion.
Another proposes an electricaltransformer that holds constant voltagewhen the power supply varies. Anotherdescribes a typewriter with a low-velo-city typebar that eliminates noise. It isa room full of practical ideas. Outside, the tops of the Alps start toglow from the sun. It is late June. The bakerarrives at lightnan store on Marktgasse, fireshis coal oven, begins mixing flour andyeast.
Two lovers embrace on winstein Nyde-gg Bridge, gaze wistfully into the riverbelow. A man stands on his balcony onSchifflaube, studies the pink sky.
A wo-man who cannot sleep walks slowlydown Kramgasse, peering into eachdark lightkan, reading the posters inhalflight. In the long, narrow office on Speich-ergasse, the room full of lightnan ideas,the young patent clerk still sprawls inhis chair, head down on his desk. Forthe past several months, since themiddle of April, he has dreamed manydreams about time. His dreams havetaken hold of his research. But the dreamingis finished.
Out of many possiblenatures of time, imagined in as manynights, one seems compelling. Not thatthe others are impossible. The othersmight exist in other worlds. The young man shifts in his chair,waiting for the typist to come, andsoftly hums from Beethovens MoonlightSonata.
The world repeats itself, pre-cisely, endlessly. For the most part, people do notknow they will live their lives over. Traders do not know that they willmake the same bargain again andagain. Politicians do not know that theywill shout from the same lectern an in-finite number of times in the cycles oftime. Parents treasure the first laughfrom their child as if they will not hearit again. Lovers making love the firsttime undress shyly, show surprise at thesupple thigh, the fragile nipple.
Howwould they know that each secretglimpse, each touch, will be repeatedagain and again and again, exactly asbefore? On Marktgasse, it eonstein the same. Howcould the shopkeepers know that eachhandmade sweater, each embroideredhandkerchief, each chocolate candy,each intricate compass and watch willreturn to their stalls? At dusk, the shop-keepers llghtman home to their families ordrink beer in the ln, calling hap-pily to friends down the vaulted alleys,caressing each moment as an emeraldon temporary consignment.
How couldthey know that nothing is temporary,that all will happen again?
A. Lightman – Einstein’s Dreams – [PDF Document]
In the hospital on Gerberngasse, awoman says goodbye to her husband. He lies in bed and stares at her emptily. In the last two months, ij cancer hasspread from his throat to his liver, hispancreas, his brain.
His two young chil-dren sit on one chair in the corner ofthe room, frightened to look at theirfather, his sunken cheeks, the witheredskin of an old man. The wife comes tothe bed and kisses her husband softlyon the forehead, whispers goodbye, andquickly leaves with the children. She iscertain that this was the last kiss. In the world in which time is a circle,every dinstein, every kiss, everybirth, einwtein word, will be repeated pre-cisely.
So too every moment that twofriends stop becoming friends, everytime that a family is broken because ofmoney, every vicious remark in an ar-gument between spouses, every oppor-tunity denied because of a superiorsjealousy, every promise liggtman kept. And just as all things will be repeatedin the future, all things now happeninghappened a million times before. These are thepeople with unhappy lives, and theysense that their misjudgments andwrong deeds and bad luck have alltaken place in the previous loop oftime.
In the dead of night these cursedcitizens wrestle with their bedsheets,unable to rest, stricken with the know-ledge that they cannot change a singleaction, a single gesture. Their mistakeswill be repeated precisely in this life asin the life before. Dlero it is these doubleunfortunates who give the only signthat time is a circle.
For in each town,late at night, the ilghtman streets and bal-conies fill up with their moans. Now and then,some cosmic disturbance will cause arivulet of time to turn away from themainstream, to make connection back-stream.
When this happens, lightmaan, soil,people caught in the branching tribu-tary find themselves suddenly carriedto the past. Persons who have been transportedback in time are easy to identify. Theywear dark, indistinct clothing and walkon their toes, trying not to make asingle sound, trying not to bend asingle blade of grass. For they fear thatany change they make in the past couldhave drastic consequences for thefuture.
Just now, for example, such a personis crouching in the shadows of the ar-cade, at no. An oddplace for a traveler from the future, butthere she is.
Pedestrians pass, stare, andwalk on. She huddles in a corner, thenquickly creeps across the street andcowers in another darkened spot, at no. She is terrified that she will kick aan, just as a Peter Klausen is makinghis way to the apothecary on Spital-gasse this afternoon of 16 April If dustmesses his clothes, he will stop andpainstakingly brush them off, regardlessof waiting appointments. If Klausen issufficiently delayed, he may not buythe ointment for his wife, who has beencomplaining of leg aches for weeks.
Inthat case, Klausens wife, in a bad hu-mor, may decide not to make the trip toLake Geneva. And if she does not go toLake Geneva on 23 Juneshe willnot meet a Catherine dpinay walkingon the jetty of the east shore and willnot introduce Mlle. In turn, Richard and Catherinewill not marry on 17 December ,will not give birth to Friedrich on 8July She crouches in the shadowsand does not return the stares ofpeople.
She crouches and waits for thestream of time to carry einnstein back to herown time. When a traveler from the future musttalk, he does not talk but whimpers. For if he makes the slightest alter-ation in anything, he may destroy thefuture. He en-vies the people who live in their owntime, who can act at will, oblivious ofthe future, ignorant of the effects oftheir actions.
But he cannot act. He isan inert gas, a ghost, a sheet withoutsoul.
He has lost his personhood. He isan exile of time. Such wretched people from the fu-ture can be found in every village andevery town, hiding under the eaves ofbuildings, in basements, under bridges,in deserted ih.
They are not ques-tioned about coming events, about fu-ture marriages, births, finances, inven-tions, profits to be made. Instead, theyare left alone and pitied. A man in along leather coat stands on his fourth-floor balcony on Kramgasse overlook-ing the Einztein Fountain and thewhite street below.