Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder

From the bestselling author of The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins' Unweaving the Rainbow explores the most important and compelling topics in modern science, and our appetite for wonder.

Keats accused Newton of destroying the poetry of the rainbow by explaining the origin of its colours, thus dispelling its mystery.

In this illuminating and provocative book, Richard Dawkins argues that Keats could not have been more mistaken and shows how an understanding of science in fact inspires the human imagination and enhances our wonder of the world.

'Beautifully written and full of interesting, original ideas. Essential reading' - The Times

'A brilliant assertion of the wonder and excitement of real, tough, grown-up science' - A.S. Byatt

'The way Dawkins writes about science is not just a brain-tonic. It is more like an extended stay on a brain health-farm ... you come out feeling lean, tuned and enormously more intelligent' - Sunday Times

'For Dawkins there is more poetry, not less, in the rainbow because of Newton ... warming to his theme, he weaves rainbows of wonder from other provinces of science and then unleashes his fury on those who accuse scientists like him of being unimaginative for not believing in horoscopes, telepathy, ghosts and gods' - Matt Ridley

'Brilliantly entertaining and stimulating' - Observer


Unweaving the Rainbow (subtitled "Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder") is a 1998 book by Richard Dawkins, discussing the relationship between science and the arts from the perspective of a scientist.

Dawkins addresses the misperception that science and art are at odds. Driven by the responses to his books The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker wherein readers resented his naturalistic world view, seeing it as depriving life of meaning, Dawkins felt the need to explain that, as a scientist, he saw the world as full of wonders and a source of pleasure. This pleasure was not in spite of, but rather because he does not assume as cause the inexplicable actions of a deity but rather the understandable laws of nature.

His starting point is John Keats' well-known, light-hearted accusation that Isaac Newton destroyed the poetry of the rainbow by 'reducing it to the prismatic colours.' (Incidentally, Newton did no such thing: it was Theodoric of Freiberg who discovered rainbows were prismatic. Newton's famous discovery with prisms was recombination of a spectrum back into white light.) The agenda of the book is to show the reader that science does not destroy, but rather discovers poetry in the patterns of nature. - Wikipedia


Other Books By Richard Dawkins