18 February 2021, The Tablet

Straddling the two cultures

Straddling the two cultures

Carlo Rovelli
Photo: pa/IPA MilestoneMedia, Alberto Terenghi


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Sixty years ago, the chemist and ­novelist C.P. Snow famously argued that the intellectual life of Western society had become divided into “two cultures”: the sciences and the humanities. This was a tragedy for our chances of solving our common problems. The world needs more people ­willing and able to straddle the divide.

Few do it well. The late American evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould was one, and his many essays reward rereading. Iain McGilchrist, author of the brilliant The Master and His Emissary, is another. Carlo Rovelli, an Italian theoretical physicist and author of several (very) popular science books, aspires to join them.

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