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Dance for Two: Essays

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  178 ratings  ·  19 reviews
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 sci ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published March 26th 1996 by Pantheon (first published March 1st 1996)
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Dance for Two is a collection of essays connecting the "science world" with the "art world", which are in fact always connected. For example, one essay explains how a ballerina depends on physics in order to balance and dance. The whole book emphasizes what I have believed for years - you can't just be a math person or an artsy person. They are so intertwined that everyone has to be a little of both.

My favorite essay in the book is "Time Travel and Papa Joe's Pipe" and I would recommend it to an
"I am not in favor of squashing new developments in pure science, in any form. The act of understanding the workings of nature- and our place and it- expresses for me what is most noble and the good in us. As for the applications of science, I am certainly not opposed to technology as a whole; I benefit greatly from it. But we cannot have advances in technology without an accompanying consideration of human values and quality of life. How should this examination and questioning proceed ? The pro ...more
Beautiful writing about the world of science. Did you know most scientists and mathematicians peak in their thirties, as opposed to folks in the humanities, who usually get better as they live and experience more. Anyway, he makes physics sound like a blast--simple, fun, mystical. And yet I still don't understand!
Physics has long been a source of fascination for me, and Lightman manages to explain it accessibly without condescension. Most of this book, though, is a meditation of the marriage of science and art: good artists need some basic science, and good scientists use art (and Lightman, though a physicist, is clearly an artist). I can tell how much Lightman loves his life's work. At the same time, he clearly finds beauty and awe in the tiniest details of normal life. Reading this book felt like a jou ...more
Loved the marriage of science and story-telling!
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Lightman turns his clear, clean prose to the philosophical and aesthetic aspects of science and a life spent pursuing science--especially physics. Each essay is a fascinating self-contained exploration of the author's experiences or thoughts on humankind's age-old and never ending attempts to understand and explain the world around us; and what these events and experiences can tell us about ourselves individually, as a culture, as a species, and the world/univers ...more
Oct 24, 2007 Shinynickel rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people interested in easy-to-read explorations of physics concepts
So-so read. Lightman is a physicist, and most of his essays build on that in one way or another, usually by exploring physics concepts through metaphors, or by finding a particularly good example of a concept and then detailing it a clearly-written manner. Sometimes he just noodles around with stuff that's not even physics based - he imagines all the places a particular pipe he owns has been, and all the people who have held it. Lightman has a rather unfortunate couple of lines in the introducti ...more
Lightman spoiled me wit Ei stein's Dreams which was perfect in every way. These essays had a lot of insights about science and poetry that made it worthwhile, but I found many of the essays disjointed and unfocused. I loved his variation on A Connecticut Yankee in which the time traveler did not know how to explain modern inventions when trying to prove he really was from the future. I know I could not explain how anything works.
I enjoyed this more than I thought I might. This is an author that I may well seek out in the future. He definitely attains the laudable goal of making science accessible and enjoyable without "dumbing it down" more than necessary.
Science connecting to the arts. Science connecting to love.
Ray Cavanaugh
Behold…a high-powered intellect that can actually construct palatable sentences!

Lightman's book is a collection of short essays that offer a fair amount of real science, but not to the point where an ex-English major would suffocate.

There is also a lot of neat historical info, such as scientific rivalries and the widespread impact of certain scientific breakthroughs.

Lightman is an academic physicist who refuses to join the email generation. Seems like a conflicted soul. Also a swell writer, as
Fantastic book of short essays relating scientific principles to everyday life. It is easily understood.
First off, go back and read "Einstein's Dreams" if you haven't already. That gives you a primer for Alan Lightman's book of essays, which is full of brilliantly crafted pieces that bring down to a laywoman's level the grand ideas of the universe and how they function -- like gravity and time.
Poetry as much as science, I read this to my gramma the last few months we had together. ok... I skipped some parts :-) but she loved what we did read, and each chapter invited us to talk about the mechanics of the sea, the stars and of people, and all of our own memories this book reminded us of.
David Musgraves
Some really good essays (Pas de Deux) interspersed with some really strange or unnecessary ones (Ironland). If you want science anecdotes, read Feynman
Bill Zawrotny
Good book. Very different from other complications of essays that I have previously read, but very informative and well written.
jonathan berger
Another ok Lightman book that's not as good as Einstein's Dreams.
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Alan Lightman is a physicist, novelist, and essayist born in Memphis, Tennessee. He is an adjunct professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the author of the international bestseller Einstein's Dreams.

More about Alan Lightman...
Einstein's Dreams The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew Mr g: A Novel About The Creation Ghost Good Benito

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