Frankenstein anniversary gives pause for new insight [1]

[ Sat. May. 5. 2018 ]

Occupying different buildings on many campuses, it’s been said that the humanities and the sciences are two cultures realised in different worlds. Their divorce is pinpointed to an 1817 dinner party when literati dined with natural philosophers and the consumptive 20-year-old romantic poet John Keats asserted that Isaac Newton had plucked the rainbow’s romantic sublimity and reduced it to science’s mere order of prismatic colours.

However, in the past 20 years a thawing in the two-cultures cold war began with John Brockman’s call for scientists to create a third culture, one that engages popular audiences in scientific research using the elan associated with literary writers. Then Richard Dawkins ventured that a deity-less science has its own romantic sublimity, and the romantic biographer Richard Holmes designated a period (between the voyages of Captain Cook’s Endeavour and Charles Darwin’s Beagle) as that of ‘‘romantic science’’. . . .