The Sun, the Genome, and the Internet: Tools of Scientific Revolutions

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Overview

In this visionary look into the future, Freeman Dyson argues that technological changes fundamentally alter our ethical and social arrangements and that three rapidly advancing new technologies—solar energy, genetic engineering, and world-wide communication—together have the potential to create a more equal distribution of the world's wealth.

Dyson begins by rejecting the idea that scientific revolutions are primarily concept driven. He shows rather that new tools are more often...

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Overview

In this visionary look into the future, Freeman Dyson argues that technological changes fundamentally alter our ethical and social arrangements and that three rapidly advancing new technologies—solar energy, genetic engineering, and world-wide communication—together have the potential to create a more equal distribution of the world's wealth.

Dyson begins by rejecting the idea that scientific revolutions are primarily concept driven. He shows rather that new tools are more often the sparks that ignite scientific discovery. Such tool-driven revolutions have profound social consequences—the invention of the telescope turning the Medieval world view upside down, the widespread use of household appliances in the 1950s replacing servants, to cite just two examples. In looking ahead, Dyson suggests that solar energy, genetics, and the Internet will have similarly transformative effects, with the potential to produce a more just and equitable society. Solar power could bring electricity to even the poorest, most remote areas of third world nations, allowing everyone access to the vast stores of information on the Internet and effectively ending the cultural isolation of the poorest countries. Similarly, breakthroughs in genetics may well enable us to give our children healthier lives and grow more efficient crops, thus restoring the economic and human vitality of village cultures devalued and dislocated by the global market.

Written with passionate conviction about the ethical uses of science, The Sun, the Genome, and the Internet is both a brilliant reinterpretation of the scientific process and a challenge to use new technologies to close, rather than widen, the gap between rich and poor.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Writing with great passion and compassion of his view of solar energy, genetics, and the Internet, Dyson shows how each fits into an ethical science of the 21st century. Anyone who believes that science and a happier, more equitable world are incompatible must read this book." —John L. Casti, Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, NM, author of The Cambridge Quintet and Paradigms Lost

"There could be no better guide to what the new century and millennium may hold than Freeman Dyson, who bring a rare lucidity and humanity, along with wide-ranging scientific and historical intelligence, to everything he writes. In The Sun, the Genome, and the Internet Dyson considers the potential impact of new scientific and technological advances on individual lives and on society in general; it is a most engaging and important book, as accessible as it is profound."—Oliver Sacks, M.D.

"Freeman Dyson, a legendary figure in the sciences, has given us a thoughtful and thought-provoking glimpse into the 21st century. In his lyrical and erudite style, he paints a vivid portrait of the technologies which will touch our lives in the next century. The Sun, the Genome, and the Internet is a must-read for anyone who wants a sneak preview into the future. Only Dyson could weave together this rich tapestry, blending ethics, ideology, science, and technology into a coherent vision of the future. —Michio Kaku, author of Hyperspace and Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century, and Professor of Theoretical Physics, City University of New York

"This slim volume grew out of a series of lectures at the New York Public Library, a format that has served Dyson will appeal to a general audience not yet exposed to the newest research in neuroscience. Public libraries will be well served by this book." —Laurie Bartolini, MacMurray Coll. Lib., Springfield, Il.

"In a discussion of the search for primitive life in the universe, he takes the reader from contemplating the possibility of freeze-dried fish floating in the ring of space debris around Jupiter to skunk cabbage in New Jersey—in the turn of a page.... He writes with detailed, admirable conviction."—The New York Times Book Review

New York Times Book Review
In a discussion of the search for primitive life in the universe, he takes the reader from contemplating the possibility of freeze-dried fish floating in the ring of space debris around Jupiter to skunk cabbage in New Jersey—in the turn of a page.... He writes with detailed, admirable conviction.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Freeman Dyson is Professor Emeritus of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University. He is the author of Disturbing the Universe, Infinite in All Directions, Weapons and Hope, and many other books. He is a recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award and The Phi Beta Kappa Award in science, among many other honors. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

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Table of Contents

Introduction
1. Scientific Revolution
2. Technology and Social Justice
3. The High Road
Epilogue
References

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2001

    Another Asimov?

    I am an avid Asimov fan and picked up this book (shamefully) not knowing the author. I could no put it down until I was done reading it. I am off looking for other titles by this author. Great book - excellent reading.

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