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Think Forum

The Fall 2023 Think Forum event featuring Alan Lightman took place on Thursday, October 20 at 6:00 p.m. at the Maltz Performing Arts Center.

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Photo of Alan Lightman with dark grey hair in a light blue shirt and navy blazer
Alan Lightman
The Physicist as Novelist

Both an eminent theoretical physicist and a celebrated novelist, Alan Lightman bridges the gap between the worlds of art, the humanities, and the science of understanding ourselves. A true renaissance man, Alan has made groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of black holes, published one of the most widely-used textbooks on Einstein, and has written for Harper’s, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and more. 

In this lecture, Alan Lightman draws on his unique personal experience as both a physicist and a novelist to discuss the similarities and differences in the way that the sciences and the arts approach the world, their different conceptions of truth, their different methodologies, and the similarities in their creative process. For example, all questions in science have definite answers, while questions in the arts (and often the humanities) do not have definite answers—and sometimes no answer at all.

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Lists of previous Think Forum speakers can be found on the Past Speakers page