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Einstein's Dreams

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  19,182 ratings  ·  1,905 reviews
A modern classic, Einstein’s Dreams is a fictional collage of stories dreamed by Albert Einstein in 1905, when he worked in a patent office in Switzerland. As the defiant but sensitive young genius is creating his theory of relativity, a new conception of time, he imagines many possible worlds. In one, time is circular, so that people are fated to repeat triumphs and failu ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published November 9th 2004 by Vintage (first published 1992)
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Best Time Travel Fiction
72nd out of 1,100 books — 3,535 voters
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Best Philosophical Literature
97th out of 623 books — 1,849 voters

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Community Reviews

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Riku Sayuj

Some of the best fun I have had in recent years of reading came in the two hours it took me to read this (including frantic back-tracks and hop-skips) fantastic book. Time is the hero of this collection and comes veiled in every twisted garb we can conceive, or rather, that Einstein can dream up. Einstein in his mad canter towards discovering the most revolutionary idea in science tumbles right down an imaginary wonderland in this book.

What comes out of the recesses of Einstein's brooding on the
How do you check the time?
If you spend a lot of time on your computer, you may simply swivel your eyes to the top right-hand corner of the screen. Or perhaps you wear a wrist watch so all you have to do is move your head slightly to check the time. Maybe you rely on your phone and then you have to make more of an effort, you have to put your hand in your pocket, pull out the phone and switch it on. No? You carry your phone in your hand at all times? Then checking the time has never been easier.
Dec 07, 2012 Rowena rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone!
I had an awful Physics teacher at University, but one thing he was good at was getting the class to understand Einstein's Theory of Relativity, which has always fascinated me.

This book was brilliant. Imagine a world where time is a circle.Or a world where cause and effect are erratic. Or a world where time is not continuous. These are a few of the worlds Einstein dreams up while he's working on his Theory. Time is definitely a central theme in this book and few will be able to look at time (or l
Feb 12, 2015 Manny rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Manny by: Everyone
In this world, a scientific theory is a game. Scientific gamers spend their lives investigating new strategies, tactics, opening variations. Most gamers work on established games - chess, whist, electromagnetism - but every now and then someone invents a new game.

The Institut für Spielforschung on Hochschulstrasse in Bern is in the middle of hosting an international games conference. Gamers have come from a dozen countries to present the results of their latest researches. In the main auditoriu
Poetic twists on the paradoxes of time.
The quotidian becomes extraordinary and unsettling.

Time travel needn't involve machines or blue boxes (sorry, Apatt!): Lightman makes it leap off the page and into your mind, leaving you questioning the very root of reality.

Now that I am reading Borges, I assume Lightman was influenced by him (and maybe others), in particular, the short story, Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius


There are about 30 very short chapters (typically, three pages of well-spaced tex
May 04, 2009 lucke1984 rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Every Single person on the planet and beyond
Exquisite, Everyone should read this book, everyone should give this book away, it should be thrown from rooftops and forced upon youngsters. I will not venture to commingle a necessarily clunky and didactic summary with the poetic prose that is as much about the feeling stirred from reading each individual word than anything a summary could attempt. Suffice it to say that this book is excellent, beautiful and amazing, if a book is universally capable of changing your life... if only for a momen ...more
This was for me a refreshing and delightful read on alternative conceptions of time, borne out of playful thought experiments set among the residents of the city of Berne Switzerland in 1908. These permutations are alternated with interludes from the daily life of Einstein, who was then using his free time as a patent office worker to develop his Special Theory of Relativity, which demands of us to conceive of time as just another dimension in the space-time continuum. Most will have heard of hi ...more
Lightman -- interesting that his surname evokes Einstein -- has written a seemingly innocuous but profound little book. As I went through my daily chores today, any words rising to the surface of my consciousness as I thought of the review I would be writing later (which is now; though that 'now' exists no longer) sounded like cliches, easy to speak of Time in that way, as everything we say, think and do is full of references to Time and can be done only in Time.

Lightman's dream about the world
What a fun, fast (relatively..pun intended) and thought-provoking read! Lightman presents easily over 20+ depictions of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Each little vignette unveils a different world of how to perceive time. If time were crystal ball, Lightman looks at this crystal ball from above, below, upside down, inside out, backwards, forward etc. Although some of the stories weren’t incredibly captivating — most were and I would suggest this book to any artist visual/musical/literary or p ...more
Saud Omar
من مدونتي: ثمانون كتابا بحثا عن مخرج


حصلت على نسخة من هذا العمل منذ خمس سنوات, ومنذ ذلك الحين وأنا أعيد
قراءته مره كل عام.

كتاب أحلام اينشتاين عبارة عن ثلاثين فصلاً قصيراً, كل فصل هو مزيج من القصة والفلسفة والعلم والتصوف بخصوص الزمن.

كل فصل يحكي قصة عالم مختلف للزمن فيه قصة مختلفه .. في أحد العوالم يكون الزمن دائري يكرر نفسه إلا ما لانهاية .. وفي عالم أخر يكون الزمن عبارة عن ثلاث ابعاد في كل بعد يكون لكل شخص قصة مختلفه .. وفي عالم أخر لا يوجد مستقبل .. وفي عالم أخر
I don't remember this book well enough to write a full review. But over a decade after reading it, one of the ideas presented in it has stayed with me. That idea was that there are people who function according to the rhythms of their bodies, and those who function according to the rhythms of the clock. The book suggested that a person can be one or the other, but not both. At the time I read it, I was in the process of shifting away from my clock-based life, and things have never quite been the ...more
K.D. Absolutely
I bought this book at its regular price (P599=$14) in 1993. I tried reading it right away but after a few pages, I lost interest. Then last Good Friday, when I was dusting my tbr books, I saw this and it looked like a quick read so I put it on top of my stacks of books and yesterday I finished it in a couple of hours.

It is about various scenarios (or Einstein's or Lightman's dreams) where time is different from what we have and know it now. There are 13 of those and most of them are fascinating
Brain candy on the subjective and shifting nature of time, relativity, and human existence. If Calvino's Invisible Cities explores fantasy in geography, then Einstein's Dreams explores fantasy and unreal times.
This 179 page book took me four days to read. Not because it was difficult. In fact, the prose was exquisite and effortless in its beauty. It was because I wanted to read and cherish all of the novel's short vignettes rather than rush through. The book is a series of dreams, close to 30 in all, that Albert Einstein is dreaming as he struggles with his theory of relativity. Alan Lightman, a physicist himself, describes aspects of the theory and time itself through these descriptive "stories". Thi ...more
I didn't quite get this book. I am sure it simply went over my head. I'm no stranger to physics and what-not so I figured this would be a good read. My review below is evidence of my frustration with this book.

I don't understand how people not only rated this book so highly, but also claim to have had some kind of enlightening experience from having read it. I thought this book was incredibly kitchy. Each chapter is a vignette of a world with some perturbation in the way time itself works, and b
Today I had some time on my hands to provide you with the thoughts I have on this book.

Developing a scientific theory surly takes time. I won't happen over night. I always wondered what goes around in the minds of great minds when they are "in the zone", totally immersed in their respective thoughts. What are their dreams at night after a full day of theorizing? This book gives an answer, albeit a fictional one.

Author Alan Lightman (what an aptly name for a physicist) provides a dream diary of A
This is a brilliantly entertaining read. The book gives off a magical sort of vibe: you join Lightman (or rather, Einstein) down the rabbit hole, in a sense, and experience time, and various conceptions of time, in Einstein's dreams. There are beautiful interludes between the short dreams, where we join Einstein: "He has come to the office at dawn, after another upheaval. His hair is uncombed and his trousers are too big. In his hands he holds twenty crumbled pages, his new theory of time, which ...more
Meriam Kharbat
June 1905,

A man sits on his desk, where a number of books lie open, and many sheets of paper, where unsuccessful mathematical formulas were stricken through, are scattered all around the floor. Today he has finished writing his third paper. He writes his name on the first page. He gathers his manuscript, takes a deep breath and leaves the house.

Behind the typewriter a young woman is typing the manuscript. She does not understand the equations, but she seems pleased with the title: «On the Elect
Frederic  Germay
I've got to start reading some bad books. I'm afraid my Goodreads average score is too high. Maybe I should read Twilig-- nah, never mind.

Einstein's Dreams was one of the better books I've come across in recent memory, much thanks to the recommendation of fellow Goodreader, Rowena Monde. For some reason, I expected something of a novel here, perhaps a single strand narrative of Einstein crafting his brilliant Theory of Relativity, but the book was more like a collection of stories. Each chapter,
مجموعة قصص تتناول الزمن بأشكال مختلفة. عبقري جدا، منذ زمن لم أقرأ كتابا بهذه اللهفة، ما إن تبدأ به، لن تغلقه قبل أن تنهيه.
تدور كل الأعمال الأدبية بمختلف أشكالها و أغراضها حول المكان و الإنسان, حيث يختار الكاتب مكان القصة و الشخوص, و يبدأ التفاعل بين المكان و الشخوص في "إطار الزمن" ... و في كل الحالات يبقى الزمن إطاراً و شاهدا على ما يجري. هذا ينطبق على مجمل الأعمال الأدبية, الإبداعيّة منها و التاريخيّة.

هنا يأتي الكاتب و يقلب المعادلة, حيث لا يعود الزمن إطاراً, بل فاعلا في القصة ككل شخوصها!! حيث يتشكل "إطار الزمن" بأشكال عديدة, فمرة يكون دائريا و دوّاراً, و مرة يكون متقطّعاً, ز مرة متوقفاً, مورة أخرى يأتي الزمن متمد

I don't smoke anymore, but man, If I did, this book would be perfect. There's not alot of narrative, its just a series of fictional dreams that Einstein would've had as he was hammering out his theory of time in the early 20th century.

There are brief narrative interludes that describe the times Besso and the ever so aloof Einstein share some time together, but most of the book consists of thought experiments on the nature of time.

The nameless human characters that are cast in these vignettes a
Oct 23, 2013 Richard rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommended to Richard by: Riku Sayuj
Shelves: fiction
How astonishingly boring!

The interludes that actually involve Einstein are intriguing, but the meat of the book is a series of emotionally empty short stories that are merely intellectual fantasies regarding time. Nice prose, but there's nothing very compelling here.

Skip it.
Beautiful, fantastical and deeply stirring.
শেষ করলাম আধো অনধকারে মোড়ানো একটা বই। এই বইয়ের পরতি পাতায় ছড়ানো দবিমাতরিক অকষয়গুলো দবিমাতরিক জগত থেকে টিমটিমে অনধকার নিয়ে থেকে তরিমাতরিক জগতে উঠে আসে। তারপর পাঠকের মাথার চারপাশে সেই অনধকারগুলো ঢুকিয়ে দেয়। পাঠককে মনে করিয়ে দেয়, চশমা চোখে দিয়ে যেমন দেখছ, জগত তেমনি নয়কো । জগত টিমটিমে অনধকার। টিম, টিম... টিম টিমটিম।

বইয়ের নাম 'আইনসটাইনের সবপন'। লেখকের নাম অযালান লাইট লাইটমযান। ভদরলোক একই সাথে লেখক এবং বিজঞানী । কযালটেক থেকে থিয়োরোটিকাল ফিজিকসে পিএইচডি করা।

সালে সুইস পেটেনট অফিসের এক অখযাত তরুণ সারা প
Marc Kozak
This seemed like something that would be right up my alley, but man, were these 140 double-spaced pages hard to get through.

We get about 30 four-to-five page chapters that each cover how the world would work if the concept of time was different -- What if time moved at different speeds in different cities? What if people had no conception of the future? What if everyone's life span was only one day? Etc etc etc. Sounds cool, sure.

Unfortunately the writing is so lightweight that each five-page se
Mar 22, 2008 Christine rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lovers and haters of time or the lack thereof
Shelves: fiction
this is one of the most amazing poetic explorations of einstein's theory of relativity i have ever read... technically it's considered a novel, but it's more like an essay collection in my opinion. i highly recommend this book. it gave me an entirely new perspective on viewing life and the meaning of "time".

from amazon:
The book takes flight when Einstein takes to his bed and we share his dreams, 30 little fables about places where time behaves quite differently. In one world, time is circular;
Jesse Houle
Aug 22, 2009 Jesse Houle rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jesse by: Kate Tobin
A friend recommended this to me after I lent her God's Debris. I feel like if I read this before Scott Adams' book I might've liked it a little more but I still think it, while for the most part being a worthwhile read, was nothing incredible. Of course it doesn't cover a broad range of ideas like God's Debris as each chapter is simply a different take on time, and while I can see the similarities it's probably unfair to lump them in together as Lightman's book is, I'm afraid, quite a bit inferi ...more

A series of vignettes which focus on time in different worlds and the unique way it manifests itself in each.

Einstein's Dreams was definitely interesting to read and at times quite thought provoking, but once I got to the half way point it did get kind of repetitive with its message of family and love and not taking things for granted and knowing what's important and so forth. It all started to feel quite heavy handed and preachy.

There were some concepts of time which were really fasci
Book Concierge
Alan Lightman is a physicist. In this fiction debut he imagines the kinds of dreams Einstein might have had in the spring and early summer of 1905, when he was a patent clerk in Switzerland, and working on his theory of relativity. Each chapter is a different flight of fancy. In one time is a circle bending back on itself, so that the world repeats itself precisely, endlessly. In another Time has three dimensions, so that there are three perpendicular futures; at every point of decision the worl ...more
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can we really know time? 7 87 Sep 03, 2013 05:56PM  
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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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“Suppose time is a circle, bending back on itself. The world repeats itself, precisely, endlessly.” 1294 likes
“The tragedy of this world is that everyone is alone. For a life in the past cannot be shared with the present.” 176 likes
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