From the bestselling editor of This Explains Everything, 206 of the world's most brilliant minds tackle Edge.org's 2017 question: What scientific term or concept ought to be more widely known?
As science informs public policy, decision making, and so many aspects of our everyday lives, a scientifically literate society is crucial. In that spirit, Edge.org publisher John Brockman asked 206 the world's best minds the 2017 Edge Question: What scientific term or concept ought to be more widely known?
-author of The God Delusion RICHARD DAWKINS on using animals' "Genetic Book of the Dead" to reconstruct ecological history
-theoretical physicist and author of A Universe from Nothing Lawrence Krauss on "uncertainty" and resisting our temptation to assign meaning to random events
-MacArthur Fellow REBECCA NEWBERGER GOLDSTEIN on "scientific realism," the idea that scientific theories explain phenomena beyond what we can see and touch
-behavioral economist RICHARD THALER on the "premortem," which can help root out potential hazards before making a major business decision
-Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel JARED DIAMOND on a basic precept too often missing from scientific discourse: "common sense"
-author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics CARLO ROVELLI on "relative information," which governs the physical world around us
-author of The Shallows NICHOLAS CARR on "mysterianism," the idea that humans' mastery and understanding of the world around us is illusory
-theoretical cosmologist JANNA LEVIN on the "principle of least action," which allows us to express many of the most complex ideas in a single sentence
-cognitive scientist and author of The Language Instinct STEVEN PINKER on "The Second Law of Thermodynamics"
-author of Emotional Intelligence DANIEL GOLEMAN on "empathic concern," a scientific basis for compassion
-theoretical physicist and Time 100 influencer LISA RANDALL on "effective theories," which reflect what we observe in the world around us
-founding executive editor of Wired KEVIN KELLY on "premature optimization," or why success so often begets failure
-biogerontologist AUBREY DE GREY on why "maladaptive traits" have been conserved evolutionarily
-musician and producer BRIAN ENO on "confirmation bias" in the internet age
-Man Booker-winning author of Atonement IAN MCEWAN on the "Navier-Stokes Equations," which govern everything from weather prediction to aircraft design, to blood flow
-plus pieces from FRANK WILCZEK, RORY SUTHERLAND, NINA JABLONSKI, MARTIN REES, ALISON GOPNIK, and many, many others.