I met him through Alan Lightman, who had emailed me that he was coming to New York to give a lecture, and I wanted to have dinner with him and two guests – his daughter and a man named Dan.
I immediately felt this righteous radiance, a kind of modest warmth, but also a very lively spirit. He was such a lovely person, so subtle and generous, an embodiment of what a great editor does: get out of the way and take away the debris that writers have put on their own path.
He was very interested in the interface between the writer and the scholar. He understood in a unique way how the entire story is some kind of narrative superimposed on reality – an invention and interpretation. Science is a man-driven search for the truth. Not social constructivist; There is an elementary truth. But the search can affect itself because we only have the tools of human consciousness to work with. Whatever the prostheses are – telescopes, microscopes – it's still a human mind doing the processing and analysis, filtering everything through his life, his love, the dans he's lost, everything.
The history of science is ultimately the history of human experience. Dan saw that there was something to be seen that contradicted the robot model of objectivity. All of the books he has made have one invigorating question in common: “What is it all? What is that all? "
Alan Lightman is a physicist and author at M.I.T. He has published a dozen books with Dan Frank, starting in 1986 with "A modern yankee in a Connecticut court. and other essays on science. ”
On March 30, 1983, I received a letter from an editor I had never heard of to get in touch if there was ever a book I wanted to write: “I've read your column, The Physical Element, me For over a year I have been particularly impressed by the ease and grace with which you explain complex ideas. "
That was a great encouragement. Before the Internet, Dan always sent me a letter before anything else; not a call, but a letter. I have kept this letter and all the letters I have ever received from him.