Alan Lightman, a physicist, teaches at MIT. His latest book is The Diagnosis. (May 2002)


Megaton Man

Memoirs: A Twentieth-Century Journey in Science and Politics

by Edward Teller, with Judith L. Shoolery
In late 1951, on an overnight train from Chicago to Washington, Edward Teller dreamed that he was alone, in a battlefield trench like the ones that had so terrified him as a child in Hungary during the war. The nine men attacking his position exceeded by one the eight bullets …

The Contradictory Genius

Albert Einstein: A Biography

by Albrecht Fölsing, translated by Ewald Osers
Until the age of seven or eight, whenever the young Albert Einstein was asked a question, he would slowly formulate an answer, mutter it tentatively to himself, and finally repeat aloud his considered response. This laborious method of speaking gave the impression that he needed to say everything twice. His …

The One and Only

Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman

by James Gleick
Richard Feynman was the Michael Jordan of physics. His intellectual leaps, seemingly weightless, defied explanation. One of his teammates on the high school math team in Far Rockaway, Long Island, recalls that Feynman “would get this unstudied insight while the problem was still being read out, and his opponents, before …

Inside the Box

The Mind's Sky: Human Intelligence in a Cosmic Context

by Timothy Ferris
Ten years ago I visited a friend on Cape Cod and took my one-year-old daughter to the beach. She had never seen the ocean. We got out of the car about a hundred yards from the water. Holding her in one arm, I pointed to the ocean. My daughter’s eyes …