The End of Science: Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age

Front Cover
Broadway Books, 1997 - Science - 322 pages
31 Reviews
As a staff writer for Scientific American, John Horgan has a window on contemporary science unsurpassed in all the world. Who else routinely interviews the likes of Lynn Margulis, Roger Penrose, Francis Crick, Richard Dawkins, Freeman Dyson, Murray Gell-Mann, Stephen Jay Gould, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn, Chris Langton, Karl Popper, Steven Weinberg, and E. O. Wilson, with the freedom to probe their innermost thoughts? This is the secret fear that Horgan pursues throughout this remarkable book: Have the big questions all been answered? Has all the knowledge worth pursuing become known? Will there be a final "theory of everything" that signals the end? Is the age of great discoveries behind us? Is science today reduced to mere puzzle solving and adding details to existing theories? Scientists have always set themselves apart from other scholars in the belief that they do not construct the truth, they discover it. Their work is not interpretation but simple revelation of what exists in the empirical universe. But science itself keeps imposing limits on its own power. Special relativity prohibits the transmission of matter or information at speeds faster than that of light; quantum mechanics dictates uncertainty; and chaos theory confirms the impossibility of complete prediction. Meanwhile, the very idea of scientific rationality is under fire from Neo-Luddites, animal-rights activists, religious fundamentalists, and New Agers alike. As Horgan makes clear, perhaps the greatest threat to science may come from losing its special place in the hierarchy of disciplines, being reduced to something more akin to literary criticism as more and more theoreticians engage in the theory twiddling hecalls "ironic science." Still, while Horgan offers his critique, grounded in the thinking of the world's leading researchers, he offers homage, too. If science is ending, he maintains, it is only because it has done its work so well.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Review: The End of Science: Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age

User Review  - Morgan - Goodreads

The End of Science is about the end of new discoveries in scientific fields more than it's about the end of science as a method of discovery. It discusses many different reasons why scientific ... Read full review

Review: The End of Science: Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age

User Review  - Dan - Goodreads

Song and dance from start to finish. If Horgan were serious, then this book would evidence only a lack of imagination. But one or two passages, unless plagiarized, suggest that the author is ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

About the author (1997)

Horgan was senior writer at Scientific American from 1986 to 1997. He now writes freelance, and has received several awards for science journalism.

Bibliographic information