The Enigma of Life: Confronting Marvels at the Edges of Science

Panel Discussion February 5, 2020

Einstein famously claimed that “the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.” This statement suggests that no amount of scientific explanation will suffice to make sense of the bizarre situation of the human mind within the universe. So what is the actual role of awe and wonder within the framework of contemporary science? How, for instance, do awe and wonder inform scientists’ understanding of the phenomena they are researching? What aspects of contemporary science are more likely to elicit wonder, and why? Is science rechanneling our innate thirst for knowledge and understanding toward more concrete and palpable realities, or is it aggravating the tension between truth and meaning by revealing the scope of our ignorance when it comes to probing the ultimate nature of reality?

Physicist Marcelo Gleiser, experimental psychologist Tania Lombrozo, and physician Gavin Francis analyze the impact of awe and wonder on their own work and on the mindsets of their colleagues carrying out cutting-edge scientific research.


  • Steve Paulson Journalist and Executive Producer, TTBOOK
  • Marcelo Gleiser Professor of Physics & Astronomy, Dartmouth College
  • Tania Lombrozo Professor of Psychology, Princeton University
  • Gavin Francis Physician and Author


  • Wednesday, February 5, 2020
  • 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
  • The New York Academy of Sciences
    7 World Trade Center, 250 Greenwich Street, 40th Floor


This volume presents an exploration of the emotions of awe and wonder, from their role as an incentive or impediment to scientific progress, to the many ways in which they connect to aesthetic experience and ethical concerns.

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About This Series

This event is part of the series The Power of Wonder: Modern Marvels in the Age of Science which brings together leading scientists and thinkers to explore the broader implications of wonder, from its role in inspiring scientific breakthroughs to the many ways in which it connects to aesthetic experience, religious attitudes, and ethical concerns.



  • The Paradox of Knowledge Feb 05, 2020 03:15 8945
  • The Right Dose of Awe and Wonder Feb 05, 2020 04:20 1782
  • Translating Awe and Wonder into Behavior Feb 05, 2020 03:46 1233
  • How Is Wonder Different for Children than Adults? Feb 05, 2020 04:59 1338
  • Why Do We Have the Capacity for Wonder? Feb 05, 2020 02:06 867
  • The Ethical Dimensions of Awe Feb 05, 2020 03:44 934
  • The Moral Imperative of Scientists Feb 05, 2020 05:18 1073
  • The Use of Psychedelics in Psychiatry Feb 05, 2020 04:04 1776
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