Einstein's Dreams | Study Guide

Alan Lightman

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Course Hero. "Einstein's Dreams Study Guide." March 30, 2017. Accessed November 15, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Einsteins-Dreams/.


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Einstein's Dreams | 3 June 1905 | Summary



In this world people live only for one day. The rhythms of their bodies speed up, compressing their life. Or, possibly Earth's rotation slows down so much that one day spans an entire human lifetime. Either way people only live to see one sunrise and one sunset. This also means people born in one season never witness a different season. People also spend half of their lives in the darkness of night and half in the light of day. Time is precious in this world, and so people hurry in order to not waste it.


This dream world shows the effect of time's structure on individual lives. It hardly matters whether people only live for one day because their bodies age quickly or if one day is so slow it spans what would feel like decades in a world with "normal" time. People's lives are fundamentally shaped by knowing only one season, one sunrise, and one sunset, their lives a stark contrast of lightness and darkness. Expanding on the motif of consequences, Lightman attempts to show how this time structure encourages people to see time as a precious commodity that shouldn't be wasted. They make decisions quickly so they can live to see the effects.

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