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The Scientific Sublime: Popular Science Unravels the Mysteries of the Universe

Scientific Sublime: Popular Science Unravels the Mysteries of the Universe

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Publication Date: July 2nd, 2018
Oxford University Press, USA
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The sublime evokes our awe, our terror, and our wonder. Applied first in ancient Greece to the heights of literary expression, in the 18th-century the sublime was extended to nature and to the sciences, enterprises that viewed the natural world as a manifestation of God's goodness, power, and wisdom.

In The Scientific Sublime, Alan Gross reveals the modern-day sublime in popular science. He shows how the great popular scientists of our time--Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, Steven Weinberg, Brian Greene, Lisa Randall, Rachel Carson, Stephen Jay Gould, Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins, and E. O. Wilson--evoke the sublime in response to fundamental questions: How did the universe begin? How did life? How did language? These authors maintain a tradition initiated by Joseph Addison, Edmund Burke, Immanuel Kant, and Adam Smith, towering 18th-century figures who adapted the literary sublime first to nature, then to science--though with one crucial difference: religion has been replaced wholly by science.

In a final chapter, Gross explores science's attack on religion, an assault that attempts to sweep permanently under the rug two questions science cannot answer: What is the meaning of life? What is the meaning of the good life?

About the Author

Alan G. Gross is a Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and a National Communication Association Distinguished Scholar. His specialty is scientific communication. He is the author of The Rhetoric of Science and co-author of Communicating Science, The Scientific Literature, The Craft of Scientific Communication, Science from Sight to Insight, and The Internet Revolution in the Sciences and Humanities.