Alan Lightman was born in Memphis, Tenn. in 1948. As a boy, he had what seemed like incompatible interests--writing poetry and building rockets. He eventually put his literary interests aside to concentrate on science. After completing an A.B. at Princeton University in 1970, a Ph.D. at the California Institute of Technology in 1974, and postdoctoral studies at Cornell University in 1976, Lightman moved directly into academia, teaching astronomy and physics at Harvard, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In the 1980s, however, Lightman found a way to combine his literary and scientific interests when he began to write essays about science. He explored astronomy, cosmology, particle physics, space exploration, and the life of a scientist, writing about these topics in a way that makes them understandable to the average reader. Many of his essays can be found in the collections Time Travel and Papa Joe's Pipe and A Modern-Day Yankee in a Connecticut Court and Other Essays on Science. Alan Lightman is also the author of "Ancient Light: Our Changing View of the Universe", which won the Boston Globe's 1991 Critics' Choice award for non-fiction; and co-author of "Origins: The Lives and Worlds of Modern Cosmologists", which received an award from the Association of American Publishers in 1990. In the 1990's, Lightman branched out into fiction, although still with a focus on science, with the novels "Einstein's Dreams" and "Good Benito."