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Book Review: Einstein’s Dreams

Updated: Dec 6, 2020

Book Review: Einstein’s Dreams - By Felicia

The amazing book “Einstein’s Dreams” by Alan Lightman explains a few theories about time, relativity and the fourth dimension using short stories. In this book review, I’ll explain four of these theories in detail with an in-depth explanation.

The first short story explains that all things happening right now, like you reading this article, happen an infinite amount of times. Everything is repeated precisely. I was not given enough information on this one, but there are lots of ways to interpret this. One way that I thought about was that you could experience a moment in your head an infinite amount of times. This doesn’t really relate to the main topic, though. A more suitable interpretation would be that to the people in the past, the moments in time happen again and again.

The second - and most interesting one, in my opinion: - Time travelers lurk everywhere, but they are afraid to disturb the future and destroy history. An example of this is, for example, I am walking into my dining room to write an idea for my coding project. If a time traveler surprises me then and there, it could possibly make me forget my idea, which in turn stops my coding project from going viral. This is only a short example, but once I read the book, I shuddered at what could happen if a time traveller intervened in a life-changing scenario, such as causing the death of so-and-so, or preventing the death of such-and-such. Just think of any war, and boom, free nightmares for you!

The third story’s main idea is that, for every decision you make, three worlds are created, implying that time is infinite. At least, that’s what I think… Anyway, one example is that if I choose between playing outside and not playing outside, that creates at least 3 worlds. If I choose to not play in the snow, I would not have been sprayed by a skunk. This is world 1. If I choose to play in the snow, the skunk sprays me. This is world 2. If the skunk decides to spray my dog instead, I would also not have been sprayed by a skunk. This is world 3. These 3 chains of events happen simultaneously, but in different universes. That’s a lot to process.

The last but not least short story demonstrates the two times: mechanical time and body time. Mechanical time is clock time. It’s the tick-tock that every watch and clock makes. Some people believe in this time, others believe in our second time: body time. Body time is, in a way, relative time. For example, if I am reading a super interesting book, say, Einstein’s Dreams, for 2 hours, and if someone else (sorry, Mommy) is just sitting there doing nothing but feeling

bored, body time will pass much faster for me than for the other person.

In conclusion, I rate Einstein’s Dreams 5/5 stars because of how the advanced time travel concepts are embedded into everyday stories that are easy to understand for the average reader.

If you either have a comment or a different opinion on any one of the short stories, please let me know in the comments!

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