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From the PublisherTo understand what sets humans apart from other creatures, look at their dreams. So argues evolutionary psychologist Nicholas Humphrey as he probes the distinctive cognitive balance that humans maintain through nightly adventures in dreamland. But other scientists approach the puzzles of human life from different perspectives, now rapidly expanding in genetics, neurophysiology, biochemistry, and quantum physics. What curious nonspecialist, then, could resist a volume bringing together all of these perspectives? Originating in 36 interviews conducted by Spanish television personality Eduardo Punset, the conversations collected here provide a capacious survey of cutting-edge science. Judicious editing helps readers recognize the themes linking these wide-ranging reflections. Again and again it is the paradox of human identity that commands attention. Naturalist Jane Goodall, for instance, ponders the disturbing similarities between aggressive chimpanzees and war-prone humans. Meanwhile, biochemist Sydney Brenner muses on how humans have converted cultural evolution into the new engine driving species change. And physicist Eugene Chudnovsky contemplates a future in which human inventiveness may create half-human, half-computer cyborgs. Rich food for speculation!
—Bryce Christensen, Booklist, 08/07
"Science and technology affect every facet of our lives, yet the content of science often seems remote and arcane. In first-hand, candid interviews, Mind, Life, and Universe not only explores the cutting-edge content of science, but it also reminds us, as beautifully as any book I know, that the pursuit of science is an intensely human endeavor."
—Robert Hazen, Carnegie Institution and George Mason University
"In this smorgasbord of science, Eduardo Punset (the Bill Moyers of Spanish TV) lets us sample the central ideas of dozens of prominent scientists he has interviewed over the years. The payoff from such a buffet is being introduced to new fascinating minds . . . dishes that make me want to taste more."
—Charles Lineweaver, Planetary Science Institute, Australian National University
"A marvelous collection of fascinating interviews, Mind, Life, and Universe is a splendid introduction to the thoughts of some of the greatest and most interesting scientific minds in the world today."
—James W. Walker, Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
"It is wonderful to hear these scientists respond in their own voice to such interesting questions. A book full of nuggets of wisdom."
—David Baltimore, Nobel Laureate in Physiology and Medicine (1975) and President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
"What a delight it is to eavesdrop on conversations with so many agile, inventive, piquantly original minds. That the interviewers are farsighted and wide-ranging themselves enriches the dialogues.
A profound and timely book."
—Diane Ackerman, author of The Zookeeper's Wife
"This book gives a fascinating overview of current research on life and its origins, man, and the cosmos from many different levels of perspective—the 'cosmic zoom' or 'powers of ten' shifting of perspective made famous by Philip Morrison. I learned much that was new to me. Just as important, I unlearned much that is widely believed but not true. Very stimulating; its conversational prose is so readable!"
—James Strick, Department of Earth and Environment, and Chair of the Program in Science, Technology and Society, Franklin and Marshall College