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The Accidental Universe: Book summary and reviews of The Accidental Universe by Alan Lightman

The Accidental Universe

The World You Thought You Knew

by Alan Lightman

The Accidental Universe by Alan Lightman X
The Accidental Universe by Alan Lightman
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Book Summary

From the acclaimed author of Einstein's Dreams and Mr g, a meditation on the unexpected ways in which recent scientific findings have shaped our understanding of ourselves and our place in the cosmos.

With all the passion, curiosity, and precise yet lyrical prose that have marked his previous books, Alan Lightman here explores the emotional and philosophical questions raised by discoveries in science, focusing most intently on the human condition and the needs of humankind. He looks at the difficult dialogue between science and religion; the conflict between our human desire for permanence and the impermanence of nature; the possibility that our universe is simply an accident; the manner in which modern technology has separated us from direct experience of the world; and our resistance to the view that our bodies and minds can be explained by scientific logic and laws. And behind all of these considerations is the suggestion - at once haunting and exhilarating - that what we see and understand of the world is only a tiny piece of the extraordinary, perhaps unfathomable whole.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. [Lightman] has composed a thoughtful, straightforward collection of essays that invite readers to think deeply about the world around them." - Publishers Weekly

"A scientific and philosophical gem." - Kirkus

"Theoretical physicist and novelist Lightman presents seven elegantly provocative 'universe' essays that elucidate complex scientific thought in the context of everyday experiences and concerns...Ranging from ancient intuitions and calculations to today's high-tech inquiries, Lightman celebrates our grand quest for knowledge and takes measures of the challenges our discoveries deliver." - Booklist

"A Walden for our digital, cosmological, and quantum age from a modern-day Thoreau." - Jon Kabat Zinn, professor of Medicine Emeritus and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts, author of Full Catastrophe Living

"Alan Lightman is one of the all-too-few scientists whose writings achieve genuine literary quality. Anyone, with or without a scientific background, will be stimulated and inspired by these essays." - Martin Rees, Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics, Cambridge University, and Astronomer Royal of England, author of Our Final Hour

This information about The Accidental Universe was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Alan Lightman

Alan Lightman, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences since 1996, is adjunct professor of humanities at MIT. He is the author of several books on science, including Ancient Light: Our Changing View of the Universe and Origins: The Lives and Worlds of Modern Cosmologists (with R. Brawer). His works of fiction include Einstein's Dreams, The Diagnosis, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and, most recently, Reunion.

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