The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew

The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew


By (author) Alan Lightman

List price $24.00

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  • Publisher: Pantheon Books
  • Format: Hardback | 157 pages
  • Dimensions: 124mm x 185mm x 23mm | 181g
  • Publication date: 14 January 2014
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0307908585
  • ISBN 13: 9780307908582
  • Sales rank: 170,947

Product description

"Alan Lightman brings a light touch to heavy questions. Here is a book about nesting ospreys, multiple universes, atheism, spiritualism, and the arrow of time. Throughout, Lightman takes us back and forth between ordinary occurrences--old shoes and entropy, sailing far out at sea and the infinite expanse of space. "In this slight volume, Lightman looks toward the universe and captures aspects of it in a series of beautifully written essays, each offering a glimpse at the whole from a different perspective: here time, there symmetry, not least God. It is a meditation by a remarkable humanist-physicist, a book worth reading by anyone entranced by big ideas grounded in the physical world." --Peter L. Galison, Joseph Pellegrino University Professor, Harvard University

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Author information

Alan Lightman is the author of six novels, including the international best seller "Einstein's Dreams "and "The Diagnosis, " which was a National Book Award finalist. He is also the author of two collections of essays and several books on science. His work has appeared in "The Atlantic, Granta, Harper's Magazine, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, " and "Nature, "among other publications. A theoretical physicist as well as a writer, he has served on the faculties of Harvard and MIT, where he was the first person to receive a dual faculty appointment in science and the humanities. He lives in the Boston area.

Review quote

"Is our universe merely a statistical fluke, a rare accident that we happen to be able to observe? In "The Accidental Universe," Alan Lightman introduces readers to physicists' latest grapplings with the vastness of space, the ineluctable march of time, and the origin of mass. Vivid, personal, and often moving, Lightman's reflections illuminate scientists' zeal for lawfulness, symmetry, and order, as well as their arresting sense of wonder." -David Kaiser, author of "How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival" "Alan Lightman is not only a graceful writer, he is a juggler of scales and perspectives, an informed questioner who works his way in deeper with each exertion. "The Accidental Universe "disassembles our theoretical surround, cleans and tests all arguments and assumptions, and then, dexterously, puts it all back together. "Voila! "A book born of stimulating discussions, it will now provoke them." -Sven Birkerts, author of "The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age" "This essay collection could have only been penned by Lightman, that rare hybrid of physicist and storyteller. By shining the beam of his intellect on the cosmos, he illuminates our personal lives in the reflections." -David Eagleman, Neuroscientist, author of "Sum "and "Incognito" "A sublime reminder of the mysteries behind and beyond the familiar--a call to wonder." -Brian Christian, author of "The Most Human Human" "Alan Lightman deftly weaves the contradictions and mystery of our experience with the awe of exploring the vast physical universe. His graceful book inspires conversation about the wonder of our existence. It invites us to look up at the sky and see a grander, more comprehensible universe." -Margaret Geller, Professor of Astronomy, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship "Science is changing the way we think, especially about ours

Table of contents

The Accidental Universe The Temporary Universe The Spiritual Universe The Symmetrical Universe The Gargantuan Universe The Lawful Universe The Disembodied Universe