Unpacking Wonder: From Curiosity to Comprehension

Panel Discussion October 10, 2019

From the macrocosm of the universe to the microcosm of the human body, our discoveries about ourselves and the natural world continue to spark our experience of awe and wonder. But how exactly does science define and explain the experience of awe and wonder? What has the historical and cultural impact of this emotion been in the development of science and reason? What can be learned from those who have explored the shifting frontier between nature and the supernatural? And does the experience of awe and wonder suggest that the quest for scientific truth and the metaphysical yearning for a deeper understanding of reality share a common root?

Social psychologist Michelle “Lani” Shiota, writer Caspar Henderson, and astrophysicist Alex Filippenko unpack the emerging science behind the emotion of awe and wonder, and its function in our ongoing quest for understanding and knowledge.


  • Steve Paulson Journalist and Executive Producer, TTBOOK
  • Alex Filippenko Distinguished Professor in the Physical Sciences, UC Berkeley
  • Michelle “Lani” Shiota Associate Professor of Social Psychology, Arizona State University
  • Caspar Henderson Science Writer and Journalist


  • Thursday, October 10, 2019
  • 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.



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  • The Driving Force of Wonder Oct 10, 2019 04:31 514
  • The Scientific Study of Wonder Oct 10, 2019 02:39 891
  • The Difference Between Religion and Spirituality Oct 10, 2019 06:10 17393
  • "The Most Beautiful Emotion That We Can Experience" Oct 10, 2019 03:35 1127
  • Does Science Spoil the Experience of Wonder? Oct 10, 2019 02:43 510
  • Ways of Knowing Oct 10, 2019 01:36 2632
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