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Dance for Two: Essays

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  203 Ratings  ·  20 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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Oct 29, 2008 Kelly rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 04, 2008 Kelly rated it it was amazing
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
Daniel S
Sep 02, 2014 Daniel S rated it really liked it
"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
Mar 04, 2008 Claire rated it really liked it
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!
Jan 29, 2015 Diana rated it really liked it
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
Oct 24, 2007 Shinynickel rated it it was ok
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
Nov 09, 2014 Kay rated it liked it
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.
Feb 07, 2014 Beth rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
Mar 05, 2016 Hal rated it it was ok
Not so much about science, more about the author's personal philosophy. Mostly very short essays without much heft.
Mar 08, 2014 Pat rated it liked it
Science connecting to the arts. Science connecting to love.
Ray Cavanaugh
Aug 01, 2012 Ray Cavanaugh rated it really liked it
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
Mar 25, 2014 Bonnie rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book of short essays relating scientific principles to everyday life. It is easily understood.
Aug 24, 2016 Lydia rated it really liked it
Wonderful short stories written by a physicist that studied at Princeton and Caltech. It is a collection of his personal favorite short stories he's written throughout his life. Nice to read when you have small pieces of free time.
Dec 04, 2012 Teatum rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 12, 2013 Karen rated it it was amazing
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
May 12, 2013 David Musgraves rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
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
Feb 17, 2014 Bill Zawrotny rated it liked it
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.
Jul 24, 2010 ara133photography rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
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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.

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