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Alan Lightman

professor, humanities, MIT

Alan Lightman was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1948 as son of Richard Lightman, a movie theater owner, and Jeanne Garretson, a dancing teacher and volunteer Braille typist. From an early age, he was entranced by both science and the arts and while in high school, he began independent science projects and writing poetry. He won state-wide science fairs and was the state winner of the National Council of Teachers of English literary award. In 1966, he graduated from White Station High School in Memphis. Lightman received his AB degree in physics from Princeton University in 1970, Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude, and his PhD in theoretical physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1974. He has received three honorary degrees.