Round Rock New Neighbors is a social organization of women welcoming women in the Round Rock area since 1978. Both "new" and "old" neighbors are welcome. For more information: rrnewneighbors.org [Barnes & Noble requires that RRNN's book club be open to the public, so you do not need to be an RRNN member to attend book club, and both men and women are welcome and do attend. ]
EEA-based end users: There are no ads on this site. Us it at your own discretion.
Monday, May 28, 2012
Einstein Dreams Can Take Longer to Discuss than to Read
In an alternate reality, Einstein might have written down his dreams, and they might have looked like the vignettes in Einstein's Dreams, by Alan Lightman. Some of them seem to be based on well-known and some on obscure laws of physics, such as the one where everyone lived as high from sea level as possible because time moves more slowly further from the earth's center of gravity; though the truth is that it is only nanoseconds slower in the mountains. Others seem imaginative but doubtful as to any connection with any kind of reality. I can't help being curious as to whether each is based on a specific aspect of physics. The whole concept of time is a conundrum in physics, so I am guessing that to a physicist, most or all of the "dreams" in the book have aspects that are in the realm of stretched-out possibility.
Interesting facts Dennis mentioned in introducing the book:
There were 8 "dreams" between each of the first 3 "interludes" and then 6 dreams after that, before the last interlude. This may be meant to mirror the structure of a hymn, which has 3 sets of 8 lines and one of 6.
In 1905, when he was working on his thesis and when the "dreams" in this book were noted to occur fictitiously, Einstein published 4 physics papers, each of which was considered a major breakthrough, each on a topic that was considered separate and somewhat unrelated to the others.
Things we said about time: Time flies when you're having fun. At farms, livestock run the schedule; ie, the roosters wake you up and you get up to milk the cows, and let them out and then let them back in later, based on the darkness. Joyce: Computers of many kinds keep our time rigid. Joyce might have enjoyed life a little more during a time without this kind of punctuality. At the beginning of our meeting, we all found that all our cell phones said it was 1:02. Janice: Time is a constant, but our perceptions make it seem to go slow or fast. Jennifer: With all our time-saving devices, we seem to get less of our plans completed than we did in the old days. This goes with the dream where people had noticed that after the combustion engine was invented, one could get from one place to another quickly, saving much time - so in that dream, everyone was doing everything as fast as possible, so to save as much time as possible. I thought that was the most laughable of the dreams. Marla: Time can be emotional, and we can be stuck at some time in the past. Patty: We interpret time differently at different stages of our lives. Pat: It would be interesting to know what meditators/meditaters (seems there is an equal spread online using each spelling) and those who go into spiritual trances would say about this book.
Relevant Books: Marla recommended Einstein: His Life and Universe, a biography by Walter Isaacson. Jay told us about Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (how much time did that guy spend learning to spell his name...and then spelling it for others?), which defines creativity partly as the period during which one is focused and loses track of time. A website I visited compared Einstein's Dreams with Juan Luis Borges' Labyrinths.
Einstein's Dreams stimulates lots of discussion and thought!