Take science in small bitesAlthough the 25 authors of these scientific predictions are allegedly skilled as “explainers”: that is, as scientists able to communicate cutting-edge ideas to the general public, the essays in this book run the gamut from intellectually entertaining to hopelessly obscure. The book is probably best attacked piecemeal; trying to peer into 25 compartments of the future at one sitting is an overwhelming task.
Brockman has divided the book into two sections: The first is a collection of articles about scientific theories, and what I consider the best essay in the whole volume comes first. Lee Smolin, a theoretical physicist, lays out the major questions in physics and gives a rationale for predicting which of those problems may have been solved by 2050.
Other essays in this section cover mathematics, psychology, neurobiology (in the form of a truly mind-bending essay by Marc. D. Hauser), and the ultimate question, in the form of an essay by Stuart Kauffman entitled simply “What Is Life?”
The remainder of the book is more nuts-and-bolts, hands-on preductions of advances in scientific disciplines such as psychiatry, computing and medicine.
The Next Fifty Years
Science in the First half of the Twenty-First Century
Edited by John Brockman
Vintage Books, New York
Kyobo Price: 20,370 won
by John Hoog