A brilliant ensemble of the world’s most visionary scientists provides twenty-five original never-before-published essays about the advances in science and technology that we may see within our lifetimes.
Theoretical physicist and bestselling author Paul Davies examines the likelihood that by the year 2050 we will be able to establish a continuing human presence on Mars. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi investigates the ramifications of engineering high-IQ, geneticially happy babies. Psychiatrist Nancy Etcoff explains current research into the creation of emotion-sensing jewelry that could gauge our moods and tell us when to take an anti-depressant pill. And evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins explores the probability that we will soon be able to obtain a genome printout that predicts our natural end for the same cost as a chest x-ray. (Will we want to read it? And will insurance companies and governments have access to it?) This fascinating and unprecedented book explores not only the practical possibilities of the near future, but also the social and political ramifications of the developments of the strange new world to come.
Also includes original essays by:
Marc D. Hauser
Robert M. Sapolsky
John H. Holland
Roger C. Schank
Judith Rich Harris
Paul W. Ewald
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: The Next Fifty Years|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
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|Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group|
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The Next Fifty Years
The Future of the Nature
of the Universe
We are asked to predict the state of our science fifty years from today. Fifty years is a long time, given the pace at which physics and cosmology have progressed over the last several hundred years. But perhaps it is not too long a time to make predictions that will not seem entirely stupid by then. If you look back over the history of science, you will see that often the important questions people were asking had been answered fifty years later. And yet the progress of science has usually been slow enough that people speak roughly the same language as their colleagues working in the same field fifty years earlier.
Let's look back fifty years, then, and note what the big questions were. My own list would include:
1)What is the nature of the strong force that holds atomic nuclei together?
2)What is the nature of the weak force responsible for radioactive decay?
3)Is the Steady State model of the universe right, or might there have been a Big Bang, as speculated by Gamow and other fringe figures?
4)Do protons and neutrons have any internal structure?
5)Why do the proton and neutron have slightly different masses, while the electron is much lighter than either? Why is the neutrino massless? What is the muon and who ordered it?
6)What is the relationship between general relativity and quantum theory?
7)What is the right way to understand the quantum theory?
I think we can confidently assert that now we know the answers to the first four questions. We are still working on the last three. But the first have not been forgotten; indeed, the ...