How will your field change in the next 50 years? Editor John Brockman posed the question to 25 experts in specialties ranging from psychology and medicine to artificial intelligence, chemistry, biology, and astrophysics. The essays, as diverse as they are compelling, propose the possibilities of swapping minds and tapping into the history of the universe. This is a treat for anyone wishing to keep up with the latest trends in science.
Agent Brockman has collected 25 of his writers to discuss the future of science in their respective fields of study. Several of these writers surpass ordinary trend spotting to entertain some rather pulse-quickening ideas completely beyond the kin of the so-called dominant paradigm. And some are of a magnitude to radically advance the nature of humans' interaction with each other, the planet and beyond. The neurologist Robert Sapolsky, for example, posits that sadness will take its place alongside AIDS and Alzheimer's as the most notorious medical disasters of the next half-century. Brockman, who is also an author-editor (The Third Culture; The Greatest Inventions of the Past 2,000 Years, etc.), divides his collection into two parts: the future in theory and the future in practice. Theoretical topics include cosmology, what it means to be alive, the nature of consciousness and the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence. Mars exploration, DNA sequencing, neuroscience, child rearing and the like are addressed in the practical half. These essays can be quite technical, intended as they are to make the latest scientific information available for cross-disciplinary research. The intellectual adventures collected here point to a future that is dazzlingly bright, at least to the eyes of these unorthodox thinkers. The general public, for whom these essays are also written, should be similarly bedazzled. (May 21) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
How will the world change over the next 50 years as a result of scientific research and discovery? Providing a forum in which more profound meanings for the future of humankind and science are theorized, Brockman, a noted literary agent specializing in science writers, compiled this collection of essays by leading scientists from various disciplines. One piece by Marc D. Hauser, a cognitive neuroscientist and author of Wild Minds: What Animals Really Think, demonstrates science's present and future ability to alter brain tissue across species and manipulate genetic material, but asks, Should we? Robert M. Sapolsky (biological sciences and neurology, Stanford Univ.) illustrates how societal forces, such as divorce rates, transient lifestyles, and a technology that raises expectations, will continue to contribute to one of our most serious epidemics, depression. Brockman's intriguing view that popularized scientific writing, benefiting both scientists and lay people, has created a new "public culture" is well demonstrated in this work. Recommended for academic and large public libraries. Loree Davis, Broward Cty. Lib., Fort Lauderdale, FL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Enterprising editor/literary agent/Web-site meister Brockman (The Greatest Inventions of the Past 2,000 Years, 2000, etc.) is at it again, cajoling his buddies to speculate on what brave new world lies half a century ahead. In Part I, theoreticians ponder whether we will ever understand the Big Bang, learn the origin of time, or arrive at a quantum theory of gravity. Maybe yes, but we may still be in the dark about why elementary particles have the masses they do or whether we are alone in the universe (or multiverse). A mathematician sees hope for computer-aided proofs to resolve celebrated problems. A biologist conjectures that all the stuff we call emergent properties (like consciousness and feelings) are really not emergent but present in matter; he opts for a new science of qualities. Others also call for new paradigms that would enable us to read the minds of animals, understand how brains learn, see psychology mature toward the study of love, aesthetic judgment, and moral development. Maybe we will even create life. Amidst the optimism comes an essay speculating that stress and depression will increase and another that suggests we may be bystanders in awe of ever-smarter computers. In Part II, "In Practice," Richard Dawkins suggests we could eliminate our species-ism by letting a surrogate mom birth a latter-day Lucy. Other practitioners envision the merger of flesh and machines, virtual schools where kids will experience reality, and information-beam fantasies limited only by complexity "ceilings." Medical speculations include the idea that discoveries of genetic variants that increase susceptibility will revolutionize treatment of mental illness. At the same time, there will benew interest in studying wellness and what protects people from adversity. A final essay suggests that in 50 years we may discover that chronic diseases from cancer to schizophrenia are infectious in origin. An ample anthology whose chief virtue lies in each presenter's snapshot history of a field: where we are, how we got there, where we might be headed