Convergence : The Idea at the Heart of Science
Overview - A brilliant history of science over the past 150 years that offers a powerful new argument--that the many disparate scientific branches are converging on the same truths. Convergence is a history of modern science with an original and significant twist. Read more...
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More About Convergence by Peter Watson
A brilliant history of science over the past 150 years that offers a powerful new argument--that the many disparate scientific branches are converging on the same truths. Convergence
is a history of modern science with an original and significant twist. Various scientific disciplines, despite their very different beginnings, have been coming together over the past 150 years, converging and coalescing. Intimate connections have been discovered between physics and chemistry, psychology and biology, genetics and linguistics. In this groundbreaking book, Peter Watson identifies one extraordinary master narrative, capturing how the sciences are slowly resolving into one overwhelming, interlocking story about the universe.
Watson begins his narrative in the 1850s, the decade when, he argues, the convergence of the sciences began. The idea of the conservation of energy was introduced in this decade, as was Darwin's theory of evolution--both of which rocketed the sciences forward and revealed unimagined interconnections and overlaps between disciplines. The story then proceeds from each major breakthrough and major scientist to the next, leaping between fields and linking them together. Decade after decade, the story captures every major scientific advance en route to the present, proceeding like a cosmic detective story, or the world's most massive code-breaking effort.
Watson's is a thrilling new approach to the history of science, revealing how each piece falls into place, and how each uncovers an "emerging order." Convergence is, as Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg has put it, "The deepest thing about the universe." And Watson's comprehensive and eye-opening book argues that all our scientific efforts are indeed approaching unity. Told through the eyes of the scientists themselves, charting each discovery and breakthrough, it is a gripping way to learn what we now know about the universe and where our inquiries are heading.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
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In this massive tour de force, British intellectual historian Watson (The Age of Atheists) traces the rise of modern science from 1850 to the 21st century. He aims to demonstrate that what began as disparate studies started to converge on one overwhelming interlocking coherent story: the history of the universe. Watson asserts that this deep coherence is at the very root of reality and calls the unity it reflects the final mystery. While demonstrating the power of scientific reductionism, Watson is careful to recognize that emergence, the natural ordering of a complex system that yields patterns not present in its constituent parts, also plays an important role in how the universe is structured. Watson begins his journey by looking at the physicists of the 19th century who tied mathematics and physics together to create the idea of thermodynamics. He then explores the paradigm-breaking work of Charles Darwin. Watson does this well, though he doesnt offer much new information. Then he delves into quantum mechanics and molecular biology, explaining their antecedents and demonstrating how advances in one field yielded breakthroughs in another. Bringing in ideas from geology, mythology, psychology, economics, and more to investigate the origins of civilization, Watson persuasively presents a deep and challenging idea. Agent: Robin Straus, Robin Straus Agency. (Mar.)