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Preview — A Sense of the Mysterious by Alan Lightman
A Sense of the Mysterious: Science and the Human Spirit
This collection contains a number of pleasant au...more
Here's the thing. I have never been interested in science. But I am now married to a man who loves it. So we've been watching cosmos and listen to SGU. I love cosmos but only somewhat enjoy SGU. Anyways, what I have realized is that the reason I always thought I didn't like science was because of how it was taught to me. My teachers insisted I needed whatever it was they were...more
It's really a series of essays. He grapples with his own fear of failure (if you haven't made it in science by 35, is it over?)... maybe it's just me at 34, but this was my least favorite chapter. (Too close to home, anybody? Good thing I'm not a scientist! He seems to think us artsy types improve with t...more
Lightman is an unusual breed-an astrophysicist and bestselling novelist. In these 11 essays, he casts a romantic light on scientific discovery and conveys a charming sense of how he ended up with feet in the seeminlyg incongruous two camps. Critics especially lauded the short pieces attempting to reconcile Lightman's two worlds. But at times, Lightman forgets that "most people don't automatically reach for a pencil and start calculating angles when they notice the wake from a boat" (New York Tim...more
"Richard Feynman once walked into my tiny office at Caltech and, in twenty minutes at the blackboard, outlined the basic equations for the quantum evaporation of spinning black holes, an ingenious idea that had just occurred to...more
Having said that, there's an interesting chapter on the use of metaphor in science, and nice sketches of Einstein and Feynmann (and a tempered chapter on Edward Teller). The sketch of Vera Rubin however doesn't excite curiosity.
The fault with the collection in my view is that the opening chapter (about Lightman's dual career as physicist and essayist/writer, and his observations on theoretical science as a young man'...more