Einstein’s Dreams

January 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

by Paul Stancato

One of my favorite books of all time is Einstein’s Dreams, by Alan Lightman. In 2001, I directed and choreographed the stage version for the 2001 New York Fringe Festival. Set in Berne, Switzerland in 1905 while Einstein develops the theory of relativity, the novel’s story focuses what he experiences when he sleeps: 30 different dreams about worlds where time behaves differently. The result is a series of vignettes that explore the relationship between human beings and time. In the dreams, Einstein sees multiple universes, including worlds where time stands still, flows in a circle, lacks significance because there is no memory, flows backwards, manifests as a physical sense, such as touch or hearing, and many other scenarios.

Published in 1992, Einstein’s Dreams stands as a worldwide bestseller that has been published in 30 different languages. While the story flows from Einstein’s dreams, time serves as the main character, and its many faces cause readers to question the nature of the universe. . A professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as a physicist, Lightman presents the stories expertly. While some of the scenarios stem from Lightman’s knowledge of theoretical physics, others come entirely from his imagination. In addition to exploring the physics of time, Lightman also examines how human beings live. In the end, the novel explores not just science and literature, but also philosophy and human nature.

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