A Touch of Awe: Crafting Meaning from the Wonder of the Cosmos

Panel Discussion February 7, 2018

The discoveries of modern science tell an epic story of the universe through its fourteen-billion-year history. Though modern humans are relative newcomers to this story, having only appeared some 200,000 years ago, what meaning can we glean from the history of the cosmos? From the birth of galaxies to the self-organizing dynamics of our planet to the ongoing expansion of the universe, the more we discover about the evolution of the cosmos, the more acutely we realize the enormity of what remains to be known. Remarkably, over the past 100 years we have learned more about life in our universe than the entire history of humanity put together. Just this year astrophysicists at the University of Nottingham confirmed that there at least two trillion galaxies in the cosmos, ten times more than had previously been thought. And with over 90% of these galaxies yet to be studied, astrobiologists are hunting with renewed vigor for the existence of intelligent life on other planets. What guidance or wisdom can the study of cosmology and astrophysics offer us in our search for meaning and purpose? Theoretical physicists Paul Davies and Ard Louis, and astrophysicist Lucianne Walkowicz tackle the “big questions” of existence, sharing their perceptions based on years of gazing upward and beyond our own intimate planet.


  • Steve Paulson Journalist and Executive Producer, TTBOOK
  • Paul Davies Physicist, Cosmologist, and Astrobiologist, Arizona State University
  • Ard Louis Physicist Professor of Theoretical Physics, University of Oxford
  • Lucianne Walkowicz Astronomer, Adler Planetarium in Chicago


  • Wednesday, February 7, 2018
  • 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
  • The New York Academy of Sciences
    7 World Trade Center, 250 Greenwich Street, 40th Floor


This volume brings together leading scientists and scholars to explore the meaning and purpose of our existence through an array of interdisciplinary perspectives.

Read more

About This Series

This event is part of The Will to Meaning: Seeking the “Why” of Our Existence series, which brings together leading scientists and scholars to explore the question of the meaning and purpose of our existence through an array of interdisciplinary perspectives ranging from neuroscience and positive psychology to evolutionary biology and astrophysics.



  • Physicists Discuss What Motivates and Inspires Them Feb 07, 2018 06:38 3557
  • Theoretical Physicists Discuss the Multiverse Feb 07, 2018 04:04 1406
  • Is There Life Elsewhere in the Universe? Feb 07, 2018 10:06 2016
  • Space Exploration: Humans vs Robots Feb 07, 2018 07:08 1021
  • Is There a Point to the Universe? Feb 07, 2018 06:27 1211
  • Can Science Give us a Sense of Purpose? Feb 07, 2018 04:38 635
Video Title To Be Dynamically Inserted Here 05:48 1345