Convergence is a history of modern science with an original and significant twist. Various scientific disciplines, despite their very different beginnings, and disparate areas of interest have been coming together over the past 150 years, converging and coalescing, to identify one extraordinary master narrative, one overwhelming interlocking coherent story: the history of the universe.
Intimate connections between physics and chemistry have been revealed as have the links between quantum chemistry and molecular biology. Astronomy has been augmented by particle physics, psychology has been increasingly aligned with physics, with chemistry and even with economics. Genetics has been harmonised with linguistics, botany with archaeology, climatology with myth. This is a simple insight but one with profound consequences. Convergence is, as Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg has put it, ‘The deepest thing about the universe.’
This book does not, however, tell the story by beginning at the beginning and ending at the end. It is much more revealing, more convincing, and altogether more thrilling to tell the story as it emerged, as it began to fall into place, piece by piece, converging tentatively at first, but then with increasing speed, vigour and confidence. The overlaps and interdependence of the sciences, the emerging order that they are gradually uncovering, is without question the most enthralling aspect of twenty-first-century science.
Peter Watson is an intellectual historian, journalist, and the author of thirteen books, including Convergence; Ideas: A History; The Age of Atheists; The German Genius; The Medici Conspiracy; and The Great Divide. He has written for The Sunday Times, The New York Times, the Observer, and the Spectator. He lives in London.