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

Moderated by Steve Paulson
Executive Producer, To the Best of Our Knowledge

Marcelo Gleiser, PhD
Dartmouth College

Tania Lombrozo, PhD
Princeton University

Gavin Francis, MD

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.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Reception to Follow
The New York Academy of Sciences
7 World Trade Center, 250 Greenwich Street, 40th Floor
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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.