The Age of Wonder

The Age of Wonder

How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science

Book - 2009
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A riveting history of the men and women whose discoveries and inventions at the end of the eighteenth century gave birth to the Romantic Age of Science.

When young Joseph Banks stepped onto a Tahitian beach in 1769, he hoped to discover Paradise. Inspired by the scientific ferment sweeping through Britain, the botanist had sailed with Captain Cook on his first Endeavour voyage in search of new worlds. Other voyages of discovery--astronomical, chemical, poetical, philosophical--swiftly follow in Richard Holmes's original evocation of what truly emerges as an Age of Wonder.

Brilliantly conceived as a relay of scientific stories, The Age of Wonder investigates the earliest ideas of deep time and space, and the explorers of "dynamic science," of an infinite, mysterious Nature waiting to be discovered. Three lives dominate the book: William Herschel and his sister Caroline, whose dedication to the study of the stars forever changed the public conception of the solar system, the Milky Way, and the meaning of the universe; and Humphry Davy, who, with only a grammar school education stunned the scientific community with his near-suicidal gas experiments that led to the invention of the miners' lamp and established British chemistry as the leading professional science in Europe. This age of exploration extended to great writers and poets as well as scientists, all creators relishing in moments of high exhilaration, boundary-pushing and discovery.

Holmes's extraordinary evocation of this age of wonder shows how great ideas and experiments--both successes and failures--were born of singular and often lonely dedication, and how religious faith and scientific truth collide. He has written a book breathtaking in its originality, its storytelling energy, and its intellectual significance.
Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, [2009]
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9780375422225
Branch Call Number: 509.41 H738ag 2009
Characteristics: xxi, 552 p., [23] p. of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 25 cm


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Nicr Nov 18, 2018

Circumnavigation of the globe, the sighting of Uranus, balloon flight, James Banks in Tahiti, William Herschel in deep space, Mungo Park in Africa, Humphry Davy in his lab conducting wild experiments with Coleridge, Southey and co.--this is the Age of Wonder. Terrific exploration of the daring scientific pursuit in the late 18th and early 19th centuries that inspired the Romantics.

SFPL_danielay Jun 30, 2016

"Age of Wonder" is the perfect title for this book about science during the Romantic period. Being a scientist during that time must have been truly an exhilarating experience despite all the hardships and the excitement of discovery is palpable in Holmes' account.

debwalker Dec 09, 2010

Selected by Richard Harvell for NPR as a Book to Rekindle Your Sense of Wonder.

Aug 10, 2010

A wonderful book on the history of science centred around the Romantic period. I enjoyed the interposed examples of poetry from same period, and at last understood some of references in some of the poetry I studied in high school.

ser_library Jul 12, 2010

fascinating and readable with many anecdotes and just enough context

good portrayal of Caroline Herschel and a general 21st century feminist perspective on the age


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