More than 150 years ago, The Atlantic published a book review by Asa Gray, a Harvard professor and botanist. Most book reviews are quickly forgotten, but history has taken note of this one. At the time, Gray was among America’s most esteemed scientists and his review, which took as its subject Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, was the first full-throated defense of Darwinism to appear in the upper echelons of American letters.
As should be clear, The Atlantic has been covering science—and covering it well—for some time now. But until today, we have hosted most of our science coverage here at TheAtlantic.com in our Technology and Health sections. From today on, Science will have its own section.
We live in an age that may come to be regarded as a second enlightenment, a time when science supplies us with discovery after discovery, each more wondrous than the last. Scientists have measured the temperature of the Big Bang's afterglow out to ten decimal places. They have mapped a decent chunk of the observable universe, in detail so granular, it astonishes. They are predicting events that will take place one trillion years from now.
Scientists are slinging drones out to Pluto, to image its icy peaks. They are bringing distant earths into focus. They are beginning to understand how this Earth's physical, biological, ecological, technological, and cultural systems interact, across vast time scales, and with important consequences for our future. They are sequencing and reshuffling genomes. They are starting to get a grip on the brain, the most complicated phenomenon in the known universe.