Monday, 13 December 2010

Wellcome Collection Blog Part 2

Part 2 of my guest blog post on science-inspired fiction is now up on the Wellcome Collection blog, where I talk about examples of SciLit that I like, what works for me and what doesn't. A taster:

The first fiction inspired by science that I came across, and still my favourite, is Einstein’s Dreams, by MIT physicist Alan Lightman. Published in 1994, this could be described loosely as a novel-in-stories, an imagining of what Einstein might have been dreaming about as he was formulating his theory of relativity. Each chapter or story conjures up a different theory of time – it moves slower at higher altitudes, disorder decreases with time instead of increasing, it works in a groundhog-day fashion where people are doomed to repeat the same day again and again. Einstein’s Dreams is not only thought-provoking but beautifully written:
“In this world it is instantly obvious that something is odd. No houses can be seen in the valleys or plains. Everyone lives in the mountains. At some time in the past, scientists discovered that time flows more slowly the farther from the centre of the earth. The effect is minuscule, but it can be measured with extremely sensitive instruments. Once the phenomenon was known, a few people, anxious to stay young, moved to the mountains…Height has become status. When a person from his kitchen window must look up to see a neighbour, he believes that neighbour will not become as stiff in the joints as soon as he, will not lose his hair…”

Read the rest here.