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Made You Think

May 15, 2024

"The tragedy of this world is that no one is happy, whether stuck in a time of pain or of joy. The tragedy of this world is that everyone is alone. For a life in the past cannot be shared with the present. Each person who gets stuck in time gets stuck alone.”

Welcome back to another episode of Made You Think! In this episode, we explore the concept of time through the lens of one of the most imaginative books of our time, Einstein's Dreams. The novel portrays Albert Einstein as a young scientist grappling with his dreams as he works on his theory of relativity. This episode promises to spark deep reflection, ignite your curiosity, and challenge your perception of time.

We cover a wide range of topics including:

  • The hidden costs of immortality
  • Contemplating a world where every day is a fresh start
  • Why it’s easy to forget to appreciate the things you have
  • How death ultimately gives our life meaning
  • Our most obnoxious literary opinions

And much more. Please enjoy, and make sure to follow NatNeil, and Adil on Twitter and share your thoughts on the episode.

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(0:00) In today’s episode, we're covering Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman. Adil shares his experience going through the book for the 3rd time, noting its unique approach devoid of traditional characters yet filled with intense emotional resonance across the theme of 'time'.

(2:43) The stories challenge the way we think about time, with each chapter introducing a unique time variable that initially appears distinct on the surface. However, beneath the surface, these chapters resonate with aspects of our own reality. We list off a few chapters that were top of mind for us.

(6:10) Death is what gives life meaning. We explore this concept by diving into one of the short stories where nobody dies. If you know that time is infinite, how would you spend that time? 

(8:45) Which chapter(s) of Einstein's Dreams did we connect with the most? 

(11:16) We discuss the concept of sleep training, contemplating the ideal scenario where babies would sleep according to their natural rhythms. However, balancing the baby's freedom to sleep spontaneously with the demands of a structured work and life schedule can be a struggle.

(12:32) Nat, Neil, and Adil ponder the scenario if everyone were to just live one day. You wouldn't know seasons, and all you'll ever know is what the current day brings.

(16:08) Connections between Einstein’s Dreams and a previous read on the podcast, The Fourth Turning

(17:51) Despite not having main characters (aside from Einstein and Besso), this book still manages to drive a lot of emotions. We admire Lightman's ability to write in a soft, empathetic way, while painting the picture for readers very effectively. 

(19:59) Were these short stories from the book thoughts that Einstein may have had in real life as he worked towards his theories on time and relativity?

(23:45) We touch on a story from the book where every day is truly a fresh start, and there is no knowledge of the past or future. 

(26:45) Doing everything as if it’s for the first time will give you excitement, but it’s also meaningful to act as if you’re doing something for the very last time. 

(28:25) Einstein's theory of general relativity, and how at the time of this theory, it was still unknown in the world of physics that the world is constantly expanding rather than fixed.

(30:27) Though it may not be the longest book, it still hits hard. Nat, Neil, and Adil share their appreciation for Einstein's Dreams being impactful despite the length. It's one of those books that can make you feel a different way each time you read it.

(36:47) Shoutout to Jack for the book recommendation on Musashi! If you have any book recommendations that you’d like us to pick up for the show, you can submit them to us here

(38:55) You can get away with a lot in books, but what about a 35,000 word speech? We talk about John Galt's mighty speech in Atlas Shrugged. So long as you give the readers a reason to finish the book and recommend it to others, you can really do what you want within the pages. 

(44:17) That concludes this thought-provoking episode! Next up, we're tackling Martin Gilbert's The First World War. Make sure to give our new Instagram page a follow and shoot us a book recommendation. If you have any recs, please send them our way!

If you enjoyed this episode, let us know by leaving a review on iTunes and tell a friend. As always, let us know if you have any book recommendations! You can say hi to us on Twitter @TheRealNeilS@adilmajid@nateliason and share your thoughts on this episode.

You can now support Made You Think using the Value-for-Value feature of Podcasting 2.0. This means you can directly tip the co-hosts in BTC with minimal transaction fees. To get started, simply download a podcast app (like Fountain or Breez) that supports Value-for-Value and send some BTC to your in-app wallet. You can then use that to support shows who have opted-in, including Made You Think! We’ll be going with this direct support model moving forward, rather than ads.

Thanks for listening. See you next time!