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The enigma of life: confronting marvels at the edges of science.

Authors
  • Paulson, Steve1
  • Gleiser, Marcelo2
  • Lombrozo, Tania3
  • Francis, Gavin4
  • 1 Wisconsin Public Radio, Madison, Wisconsin.
  • 2 Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire.
  • 3 Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey. , (Jersey)
  • 4 Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom. , (United Kingdom)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Publisher
Wiley (Blackwell Publishing)
Publication Date
Oct 01, 2021
Volume
1501
Issue
1
Pages
48–66
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1111/nyas.14409
PMID: 32544267
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Einstein famously claimed that "the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible." This statement suggests that no amount of scientific explanation will suffice to make sense of the bizarre situation of the human mind within the universe. So what are the actual roles of awe and wonder within the framework of contemporary science? How, for instance, do awe and wonder inform scientists' understanding of the phenomena they are researching? What aspects of contemporary science are more likely to elicit wonder, and why? Is science rechanneling our innate thirst for knowledge and understanding toward more concrete and palpable realities, or is it aggravating the tension between truth and meaning by revealing the scope of our ignorance when it comes to probing the ultimate nature of reality? Physicist Marcelo Gleiser, experimental psychologist Tania Lombrozo, and physician Gavin Francis analyze the impact of awe and wonder on their own work and on the mindsets of their colleagues carrying out leading-edge scientific research. © 2020 New York Academy of Sciences.

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