Alan Lightman
Pantheon Books, New York, 2012, 1993, English
ISBN: 9780679416463

From the Publisher. It is ten minutes past six by the invisible clock on the wall. Minute by minute new objects gain form. In the dim light of morning the young patent clerk sprawls in his chair, head down on his desk. For the past several months, he has dreamed many dreams about time. His dreams have taken hold of his research. But the dreaming is finished. Out of many possible natures of time, imagined in as many nights, one seems compelling. Not that the others are impossible. The others might exist in other worlds. The patent clerk is Albert Einstein. In his dreams he imagines new worlds, in which time can be circular, or flow backwards, or slow down at higher altitudes, or take the form of a nightingale.

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Bruce Hannah

What is time? Why does it exist? When, some years ago, I asked students to design a clock, one student designed a clock made of chocolate that had only an hour hand. When I asked him why, he said, “It’s a Swiss clock, designed for Einstein.” I think Lightman’s book explains why that clock would have made sense to Einstein.

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