Astrophysicist and Author
Alan Lightman is a writer, astrophysicist, and educator. He currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as an author of fiction and nonfiction books; he is also an adjunct professor of humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Graduating from Princeton University in New Jersey and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Lightman has had two parallel careers: As a theoretical physicist, he has held positions at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York; Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and contributed to the modern understanding of the astrophysical significance of high-temperature states of matter. At the same time, he built a career as an essayist and writer of nonfiction and fiction books. The latter includes his highly successful novels, Einstein’s Dreams, which was translated into 30 languages and has been the basis for more than two dozen plays, dance productions, and musical compositions, and The Diagnosis, a finalist for the 2000 National Book Award for fiction. As the first professor at MIT to receive a joint appointment in science and the humanities, he co-founded that institution’s graduate program in science writing.
The recipient of numerous honors and awards, Lightman is also the founding director of the Harpswell Foundation, whose mission is to provide educational opportunities for disadvantaged children and young people.