“Science” is a historically variable, connotationally rich, and contested term. No single institution, individual, or group of individuals can claim definitional authority over its meaning. The use of “science” carries weight and credibility in society, at least in many sectors. Yet while “science” is a contested term over which no one can claim definitional authority, science is defined and carried out in practice around the world daily. It is defined in dictionaries and mission statements by scientific organizations, in education guidelines and high school curricula, in media coverage and science fiction novels, and in popular science books.
In this dissertation, Daniel Helsing analyzes the construction of the universe, science, and humankind in contemporary mainstream Anglo-American popularizations of physics and astronomy. He shows that popularizers use literary techniques and rhetorical strategies to construct and explain science, to represent the universe and humankind’s place in the universe, and to evoke aesthetic and emotional responses in their readers.