Date of Award
People today live in a world dominated by technology. All of the conveniences and technologies people enjoy and utilize today, however, would not exist without the foundation of empirical science laid during the Enlightenment. This thesis looks at the Enlightenment both as a philosophical movement and as the setting of the Scientific Revolution. The leaders of the Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution began the tradition of utilizing reason in research, founded empirical science, and developed the scientific method. This thesis traces the development of science during the Enlightenment and seeks to prove that Enlightenment science set the stage for the science of today and that the ultimate goals of scientists in the Enlightenment and today are the same. I want to show that the end goals of science are and always have been to understand and control the natural world and to use that knowledge to improve peoples lives. I used nanotechnology as the example of the cutting-edge science of today because it, like Enlightenment science, has the potential to revolutionize society and how people view their world. I also conducted my own research on the nanomolecular building block corannulene under the direction of Dr. Nathan Hammer. We developed our own undergraduate Physical Chemistry laboratory exercise. This laboratory exercise utilizes modern analytical and computational chemistry methods for collecting and analyzing data and serves as an example of more basic nano-level research that is being done today. In researching this thesis, I looked at the work of many historians of the Enlightenment as secondary sources, and I read the personal papers, letters, and publications of Enlightenment philosophers and scientists as primary sources. While developing my corannulene laboratory exercise, I consulted numerous peer-reviewed scientific journals to learn about what research had previously been done with nanomolecular building blocks. By looking generally at current nanotechnology research and its potential to change society and specifically at nanomolecular building blocks, this thesis shows that the same tenets of the scientific method and empirical science that began during the Enlightenment are still guiding the science of today, and that the same goals of understanding the world and using science to benefit humanity are still present.
Frey, Elizabeth Ramsey, "Enlightenment Science and Nano-Science: Creating Order out of Magic" (2013). Honors Theses. 284.