Michael R. Lynn
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In many ways, popular science fit in quite well with the revolutionary spirit. Beginning in the 1730s and lasting well into the 1780s and 1790s, science formed a mainstay of French popular culture. The invention of ballooning in 1783 reinforced the belief that science could produce nearly miraculous discoveries. In addition to the controversy over divining rods, numerous other scientific debates filled the popular press and the cultural imagination of the French at this time. The revolutionary period saw an emphasis on the potential of science to serve the new, rational state; science education became a significant focus of political attention, as did the ability of savants to provide useful services to the nation. Many people appropriated science through public lecture courses and expressed considerable interest in scientific work through their membership in clubs and their participation in the funding of balloons and the debate over divining rods.

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