Holmes highlights the intersections of science and art during the eighteenth century and imparts to his reader the sense of wonder with which he wrote the book.
For me, this quote sums it up:
"Science, like poetry, was not merely 'progressive'. It directed a particular kind of moral energy and imaginative longing into the future. It enshrined the implicit belief that mankind could achieve a better, happier, world. This is what Davy believed too, and 'Hope' became one of his watchwords."