Einstein's Dreams | Study Guide

Alan Lightman

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Einstein's Dreams Study Guide." Course Hero. 30 Mar. 2017. Web. 17 Nov. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Einsteins-Dreams/>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2017, March 30). Einstein's Dreams Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved November 17, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Einsteins-Dreams/

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)



Course Hero. "Einstein's Dreams Study Guide." March 30, 2017. Accessed November 17, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Einsteins-Dreams/.


Course Hero, "Einstein's Dreams Study Guide," March 30, 2017, accessed November 17, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Einsteins-Dreams/.

Einstein's Dreams | 19 April 1905 | Summary



Snow is falling while a man in a long leather coat stands on his balcony overlooking the street below, contemplating whether he should go visit a woman. He decides against it, since she is manipulative and judgmental. A few years later he meets another, nicer woman, and she comes to live with him. Their life together is peaceful and loving.

In an alternate world the man decides to go see the first woman. She persuades him to leave his job and move close to her. Their life together is volatile and tempestuous, and he feels anguished yet happy. In yet a third world the man also decides to go and see the first woman. They have a polite meeting and then he leaves, feeling empty. He returns home and stands on his balcony, gazing down at the street below.

These three outcomes all happen simultaneously; in this world time has three dimensions, as space does. Just as objects can move in three different directions, so can people's futures. Each future moves in a different direction of time and then splits into three more possible futures—leading to an infinite number of futures.


This dream world continues to explore the concept of free will. Here there are infinite outcomes for each action, based on the theory time has three dimensions. Lightman also introduces the paradox of how humanity responds to the knowledge of limitless free will. Some believe choice is inherently meaningless; others give each choice great weight and consideration because each consequence is real. Individuals experience time differently based on their unique nature and personal history.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Einstein's Dreams? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!