Today's most visionary thinkers reveal the cutting-edge scientific ideas and breakthroughs you must understand.
Scientific developments radically change and enlighten our understanding of the world -- whether it's advances in technology and medical research or the latest revelations of neuroscience, psychology, physics, economics, anthropology, climatology, or genetics. And yet amid the flood of information today, it's often difficult to recognize the truly revolutionary ideas that will have lasting impact. In the spirit of identifying the most significant new theories and discoveries, John Brockman, publisher of Edge.org ("The world's smartest website" -- The Guardian), asked 198 of the finest minds What do you consider the most interesting recent scientific news? What makes it important?
Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond on the best way to understand complex problems * author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics Carlo Rovelli on the mystery of black holes * Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker on the quantification of human progress * TED Talks curator Chris J. Anderson on the growth of the global brain * Harvard cosmologist Lisa Randall on the true measure of breakthrough discoveries * Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek on why the twenty-first century will be shaped by our mastery of the laws of matter * philosopher Rebecca Newberger Goldstein on the underestimation of female genius * music legend Peter Gabriel on tearing down the barriers between imagination and reality * Princeton physicist Freeman Dyson on the surprising ability of small (and cheap) upstarts to compete with billion-dollar projects. Plus Nobel laureate John C. Mather, Sun Microsystems cofounder Bill Joy, Wired founding editor Kevin Kelly, psychologist Alison Gopnik, Genome author Matt Ridley, Harvard geneticist George Church, Why Does the World Exist? author Jim Holt, anthropologist Helen Fisher, and more.
Brockman follows his critical collection This Idea Must Die with a collection of short essays by various writers that has a more positive outlook on recent scientific developments. Though chapters on climate change are predictably gloomy, rays of hope appear as futurist Bill Joy and artist James Croak each discuss improvement in batteries; engineer Carl Page outlines the potential of harnessing low energy nuclear reactions; and Leonard Susskind, Andrei Linde, and Stephon Alexander giddily share news from the edges of theoretical physics. The geneticists included relay their concerns with the ethics of gene editing and the debate over "designer children." In that vein, the biology-focused essays largely address "ethical, moral, and governance challenges." Computer scientist Marti Hearst lampoons the Big Data fad so prevalent in tech culture. To broaden perspectives, Brockman smartly includes psychologists, economists, sociologists, and linguists along with artists, poets, musicians, and philosophers. As welcome as the social sciences are in a volume such as this, many of the problems addressed demand political, not technological, solutions. Brockman's array of contributors and subject matter makes for an often lively collection, but with nearly 200 essays, the book could use an organizing principle.