Alan Lightman Speaks to Physics and English Students

From the Chronicle:

They seemed hesitant to talk at first, the English and physics students who gathered together for a shared class Wednesday morning. But it didn’t take long for guest lecturer Alan Lightman to kindle a conversation in the nervous silence.

“Books enlighten us about human nature, just like Einstein’s theory of relativity enlightens us about the universe,” he said.

Lightman is the author of the international best-seller “Einstein’s Dreams” and “The Diagnosis,” a National Book Award finalist. He also is a noted physicist.

Both Lightman and the students acknowledged that science and art, in this case literature, take two different approaches to studying the world. Physics is quantitative in its search for answers, while literature is more qualitative.

Still, they seemed to agree that each method has value.

“Both ways you can look at the world around you,” said [Physics major] Alex Handin ’10. “You can learn something about the world through physics, but you can also learn something about the world through literature.”