Of Wonder and Terror

Art and science are two sides of the same coin.

Does science now provide our access to the sublime, or does art still have the power to make us feel awe?

This question is supposed to direct us to grand thoughts: the wonders and terrors of science versus visions of the sublime in poetry and visual culture. But that’s not how I see it. We need to tread carefully when we venture into lofty thoughts on the nature of science and the arts, all the more so if we decide to choose sides.

The grandeur of the terrain conceals rather tired debates involving more mundane matters: politics, money and sponsorship, as well as personal rivalries and resentments. Beyond binary conflict, not only does culture include science but, more significantly, science includes culture. To say this is to say very little, one might think, yet it remains deeply contentious, begetting endless battles.

The nature of the empirical research which gets done and the way it is broadcast and popularised, whether by scie

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