Life of the Mind: Chronicling Where History Meets Science
Behind the Research: Historian Michael Gordin
In high school, Professor Michael Gordin was determined to become a physicist, with history as something he read about in his “fun time.” That is, until he entered Harvard and discovered that practicing physicists don’t spend their time debating “the more philosophical questions” and 19th-century theories but rather “are solving problems and moving the field forward,” he says with a laugh. “That was a big revelation for me.”
Fortunately, Gordin stumbled upon the history of science, which allowed him to talk about those philosophical and historical questions that he was interested in while also exploring the effects of science on politics, culture, and broader life.
“I’m just fascinated by how ideas can reshape how people think about themselves.”