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A Final StoryScience, Myth, and Beginnings$
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Nasser Zakariya

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226476124

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226500737.001.0001

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Political Cosmologies

Political Cosmologies

(p.341) Chapter Eleven Political Cosmologies
A Final Story

Nasser Zakariya

University of Chicago Press

The resonance of the scientific epic as a historical synthetic genre made itself felt in the overt ways the epic represented and framed the activity of NASA. Also looming large in the early 1990s was the extensive debate over and eventual cancellation of the Superconducting Supercollider (SSC) project, a project the foundationalist conceit of which Weinberg fiercely and publicly defended. The contrast between a core, self-defining NASA narrative, inclusive in its historical emphasis on origins, and Weinberg’s account, divisive despite efforts to placate the wider community, appears with particular clarity in framework of the emerging NASA Origins Project, itself also distinguished from SETI’s apparently speculative emphasis on intelligent life elsewhere. The analysis of the political discourse and scientific narratives at play in these varied but related projects also helps illustrate the distinction between accounts defended as final theories and those related as final stories, and the extent to which the latter could increasingly and explicitly be portrayed as politically evocative universal histories.

Keywords:   foundationalism, evolutionary epic, origins, exotica, NASA Origins, SSC, SETI, Stephen Weinberg, P. W. Anderson

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