IN THE CENTER OF IMMENSITIES by Bernard Lovell
Kirkus Star

IN THE CENTER OF IMMENSITIES

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

As a coda to this dazzling summation of past achievements and current outlooks in astronomy and cosmology, British astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell discusses the interplay between science and the military in the conduct of space missions. The budgetary power of the military with its potential for strife and destruction goes hand in hand with the experimental ingenuity and technological skills also elicited which have so greatly accelerated knowledge of the universe. Lovell then extends this force-for-evil/force-for-good theme to the whole of scientific inquiry in the 20th century--in relation to political and environmental dilemmas and in relation to conflicts with religious orthodoxy. He concludes that the fear of science's achieving final, materialistic answers in the pursuit of understanding is without foundation. And in reviewing his highpowered discussion of the current state of astronomy, one sees his point. Following the Copernican revolution and subsequent dethronements of earth and sun as the center of the universe, we have arrived at a point where, to quote Wittgenstein, ""What we cannot speak about, we must pass over."" The ""unspeakable"" is the origin of the universe--and there present-day logic and calculations lead to the paradox of the fireball expansion of that which was infinitely dense and infinitely small. The history, the examples, the pinpointing of major figures and events (such as measurement of star distances or the recent discovery of 3 cm background radiation in the universe) are adroitly sketched. This is a tour de force by a man of intellect and compassion. The level of scientific sophistication is high, but not beyond those who:are philosophically disposed to ponder mid-20th century problems of scientific inquiry and moral purpose.

Pub Date: July 5th, 1978
Publisher: Harper & Row