From the bestselling author of Einstein's Dreams comes this lyrical and insightful collection of science writing that delves into the mysteries of the scientific process and exposes its beauty and intrigue.In these brilliant essays, Lightman explores the emotional life of science, the power of imagination, the creative moment, and the alternate ways in which scientists and humanists think about the world. Along the way, he provides in-depth portraits of some of the great geniuses of our time, including Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Edward Teller, and astronomer Vera Rubin. Thoughtful, beautifully written, and wonderfully original, A Sense of the Mysterious confirms Alan Lightman's unique position at the crossroads of science and art.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: A Sense of the Mysterious|
|Release Date: 01-18-2005|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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A Sense of the Mysterious
Ever since I was a young boy, my passions have been divided between science and art. I was fortunate to make a life in both, as a physicist and a novelist, and even to find creative sympathies between the two, but I have had to live with a constant tension in myself and a continual rumbling in my gut.
In childhood, I wrote dozens of poems. I expressed in verse my questions about death, my loneliness, my admiration for a plum-colored sky, my unrequited love for fourteen-year-old girls. Overdue books of poetry and stories littered my second-floor bedroom. Reading, listening, even thinking, I was mesmerized by the sounds and the movement of words. Words could be sudden, like jolt, or slow, like meandering. Words could be sharp or smooth, cool, silvery, prickly to touch, blaring like a trumpet call, fluid, pitter-pattered in rhythm. And, by magic, words could create scenes and emotions. When my grandfather died, I buried my grief in writing a poem, which I showed to my grandmother a month later. She cradled my face with her veined hands and said, “It’s beautiful,” and then began weeping all over again. How could marks on a white sheet of paper contain such power and force?
Between poems, I did scientific experiments. These I conducted in the cramped little laboratory I had built out of a storage closet in my house. In my homemade alchemist’s den, I hoarded resistors and capacitors, coils of wire of various thicknesses and grades, batteries, switches, photoelectric cells, magnets, dangerous chemicals that I had secretly ordered from unsuspecting supply stores, test tubes and Petri dishes, lovely glass flasks, Bunsen burners, scales. I delighted in my eq