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‘Einstein’s Dreams’ Author Alan Lightman to Present Lecture

Theoretical physicist and author of the award-winning novel “Einstein’s Dreams,” Alan Lightman, will speak at Pennsylvania College of Technology at 7 p.m. Oct. 28 as part of its Centennial Colloquia Series.

Lightman is one of the first professors to receive a dual faculty appointment in science and humanities at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

An international bestseller, “Einstein’s Dreams” is one of the most widely read books on university campuses. Lightman’s most recent book of essays, “The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew,” features work focused on modern physics and philosophy.

At Penn College, Lightman will introduce a presentation developed specifically for the college’s Centennial Colloquia Series. Titled “Our Home in the Material Universe,” the talk will examine the significance, potential and limitations of major scientific and technological discoveries.

Alan Lightman
Alan Lightman

Lightman will discuss that, while the advances of science and technology have yielded many benefits, less beneficial has been the separation from a direct and immediate experience with the world around us. Consider, for example, the use of iPhones while walking through a nature preserve or the many layers of virtual reality on the Internet.

Lightman will also examine our ambivalent attitude toward an increasingly orderly and lawful cosmos. On one hand, we appreciate order, predictability and control over nature. On the other, we ourselves do not want to be predictable, constrained by the same laws that govern atoms and molecules, reduced to equations.

Lightman suggests that a positive response to these developments is to live more proactively in this scientific and technological age, to use technology more thoughtfully and selectively, and to recognize and honor our own humanity.

The lecture, to be held in the Klump Academic Center Auditorium, is free and open to the public. In the spirit of all colloquia, a question/answer period will follow the presentation; the conversation can also continue during the reception that will follow.

Lightman began his career on the faculty at Harvard University and went on to serve as a research scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. At MIT, he was appointed professor of science and writing and senior lecturer in physics. He helped to create a communication requirement at MIT and founded the institute’s graduate program in science writing.

A fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Lightman is the author of six novels – including “Einstein’s Dreams,” which has been translated into 30 languages – as well as nonfiction essays, articles and poetry published in scientific and popular periodicals. He is an editor of essay collections and a soon-to-be memoirist with the upcoming publication of “Screening Room: Family Pictures,” to be released in early 2015.

Penn College presents the Centennial Colloquia Series in celebration of 100 years of education on its campus. The series features presentations by nationally known authors and Penn College faculty that will challenge our thinking about the impact of technology on the past, present and future.

The year’s final colloquium will be presented by Craig A. Miller, a Penn College assistant professor of history and political science, on Nov. 18.

For more about the college, which is celebrating its Centennial throughout 2014, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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