I was at the library the other day when I saw Alan Lightman's book, Einstein's Dreams. I picked it up because it's one of my choices for Dewey's Books Reading Challenge. What surprised me though is how small the book is. It's about the size of my hand. And I loved it!
It's a bit hard to describe this type of book. Is it fiction or philosophy or both?
Here we go. The book starts out with young Einstein hunched over his patent office desk early one morning in Bern, Switzerland. Here's the dapper young Einstein (source here):
It's 1905 and he's been working on his theory of relativity. And while he's working away in the wee hours, he falls asleep. And what proceeds are a series of short stories, all taking place in the town of Bern, that each describe a "what if" scenario about time. Some are thought provoking and some are just plain funny. For instance, I love the one where time slows down the higher you go in the atmosphere so people build their houses and live as high as possible. Even on the highest mountaintop, they still put their houses on stilts so they can have as much time as possible. Or the one where time is slower when you are in motion so people race around to have more time (hmmm...sounds like New York City).
It's pretty fascinating, when you think about it, that our perception of time influences how we live. For instance, would your life change if the world were to end tomorrow? Would your life change if time was circular and you already knew all the outcomes of all your choices?
So while it's a small short book, spend the time to savor each chapter.
Here's Dewey's Review of Enstein's Dreams