5 thoughts on “The Age of Wonder

  1. There’s nothing like reading a book about really smart and energetic people back in ye olden days to make you feel like a lazy piece of crap. I’m sitting here in front of a magic box where I could type in the words ‘Hubble telescope’ in an image search and instantly see pictures of distant planets and galaxies but it seems like too much effort. William Herschel had to invent his own telescopes just to get a decent view of the moon. I’m sure Sir William would like nothing better than to crawl out

  2. Updated – July 31, 2013 – added a link at bottom

    Whereas Newton, Hooke, Locke and Descartes were pop stars of the first scientific revolution in the 17th century, Richard Holmes looks at what Coleridge called a “second scientific revolution,” the era of scientific breakthrough between Captain Cook’s first circumnavigation in 1768 and Darwin’s journey on the Beagle in 1831. He does this by a sort of relay, beginning with Joseph Banks, a botanist on Cooks’ ship, Endeavor, connecting him to William

  3. I think the time has come for me to admit that I am either not going to finish this, or at least that I will finish it in very slow chunks over a much longer period than I had planned.

    Holmes’ book purports to put forth a unifying thesis about how science influenced the Romantic generation. All the new discoveries in science are meant to have communicated to this generation endless new possibilities, which goes a long way to explaining the reputation this bunch has gone down with for credulity, e

  4. I was a little upset at this book for having to end. Holmes writes with a palpable compassion for his subjects. The book’s major players are so fully animated that I couldn’t help but feel a sadness at parting with these historical figures, most of whom I had never heard of before and all of whom, of course, had been dead for more than a century before I was born. I think that the way Holmes structured the book, with the same kind of intricate plot architecture as a good 19th century novel, real

  5. AWE: “an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like.”

    I would like to put in an official plea to wrest the word AWE back from the frantically freaked-out readers of teen romance who squawk “epic awesomeness”, sorry, that should be “EPIC AWESOMENESS” and then a spasm with the shift-1 key, because words just cannot express the eloquence they feel at an author’s ability to re-hash perennial adolescent angst at

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