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The Enlightenment was a time where science shifted to specialization and organization and turned from a private elite study to public spectacle. An important aspect of the enlightenment was the dissemination of information, reformers such as Gerrard Winstantley believe science could be applied to everyday problems and pushed for science to be made available to all people.
Along with calls for educational equality came the need for credibility of information which led to public witnessing, first by elites but as discoveries were made interest and demand grew in the public. This gave way to a thriving science as entertainment business “by the 1730s almost every type of science was being popularized” (Bowles & Kaplan, 2012). This popularization of science led to new discoveries as it became an everyday everybody topic of conversation. Performance bridged “the gap between consumers and producers” (Morus, 2010). Entrepreneurs could cash in on the possibilities of marketable practical applications of scientific discovery and the idea of progress. “Science had become accessible, entertaining, and socially relevant” (Bowles & Kaplan, 2012).
In some ways, not much has changed since then, we are still looking to spread information and for science to fix our problems but now we seem more interested in the products of science rather than of science itself. Unfortunately, I believe we have lost ground in accessibility and science is still mainly in the hands of “those with means and leisure to think” (Bowles & Kaplan, 2012). I live close to Dallas and thought it would be cool to go the Perot museum this weekend until I looked at the prices. My son who will be graduating from high school this year would really like to go to UTD for a degree in engineering. He has been accepted but even with financial aid and participating in the work study program the costs are not covered. What is sad is I have checked the demographics of my area and know that we are doing better than average.
Bowles, M. & Kaplan, B. (2012). Science and culture throughout history. San Diego, California: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Morus, I. R. (2010, December). Worlds of wonder: Sensation and the Victorian scientific performance. Isis, 101(4), 806-816. doi: 10.1086/657479