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Why do civilizations rise and fall? What are the origins and purpose of art? How does technology shape society? Did culture direct human evolution? Is the Internet an agent of democracy or dictatorships? An immensely powerful but little-understood force that impacts society, art, politics, and even human biological development, culture is the very stage on which human experience plays out. But what is it, exactly? What are its rules and origins? In this fascinating volume, John Brockman, editor and publisher of Edge, presents short, accessible explorations of culture's essential aspects, by today's most influential scientists and thinkers. Contributors and topics include Jared Diamond on why societies collapse and how we can make better decisions to protect our own future Denis Dutton on the origins of art Daniel C. Dennett on the evolution of cultures Jaron Lanier on the ominous impact of the Internet Nicholas Christakis on the structure and rules of social networks, both "real" and online Clay Shirky and Evgeny Morozov on the new political reality of the digital era Brian Eno on what cultures value Stewart Brand on the responsibilities of human power Douglas Rushkoff on the next Renaissance W. Daniel Hillis on the Net as a global "knowledge web"
A fascinating collection of essays from twenty-seven of the world's most interesting scientists about the moments and events in their childhoods that set them on the paths that would define their lives. What makes a child decide to become a scientist? *For Robert Sapolsky--Stanford professor of biology--it was an argument with a rabbi over a passage in the Bible. *Physicist Lee Smolin traces his inspiration to the volume of Einstein's work he picked up as a diversion from heartbreak. *Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist and the author of Flow, found his calling through Descartes. *Mary Catherine Bateson--author of Composing a Life--discovered that she wanted to be an anthropologist while studying Hebrew. *Janna Levin--author of How the Universe Got Its Spots--felt impelled by the work of Carl Sagan to know more. Murray Gell-Mann, Nicholas Humphrey, Freeman Dyson, Daniel C. Dennett, Lynn Margulis, V. S. Ramachandran, Howard Gardner, Richard Dawkins, and more than a dozen others tell their own entertaining and often inspiring stories of the deciding moment. Illuminating memoir meets superb science writing in essays that invite us to consider what it is--and isn't--that sets the scientific mind apart and into action.
Evolutionary science lies at the heart of a modern understanding of the natural world. Darwin's theory has withstood 150 years of scientific scrutiny, and today it not only explains the origin and design of living things, but highlights the importance of a scientific understanding in our culture and in our lives. Recently the movement known as "Intelligent Design" has attracted the attention of journalists, educators, and legislators. The scientific community is puzzled and saddened by this trend-not only because it distorts modern biology, but also because it diverts people from the truly fascinating ideas emerging from the real science of evolution. Here, join fifteen of our preeminent thinkers whose clear, accessible, and passionate essays reveal the fact and power of Darwin's theory, and the beauty of the scientific quest to understand our world.
How is the internet changing the way you think? That is one of the dominant questions of our time, one which affects almost every aspect of our life and future. And it's exactly what John Brockman, publisher of Edge.org, posed to more than 150 of the world's most influential minds. Brilliant, farsighted, and fascinating, Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think? is an essential guide to the Net-based world.
Who am "I"? How is happiness achieved? What is the key to memory? How do babies become adults? Is personality determined? What function do emotions serve? Are we hardwired to be moral? The mind is a riddle that has vexed philosophers, psychologists, biologists, and artists for thousands of years. In this invaluable volume, John Brockman, editor and publisher of Edge, gathers the world's most influential scientists and thinkers to present their deepest thoughts and cutting-edge theories in short, accessible essays about the essential aspects of human consciousness and the complex workings of the brain. Contributors and topics include Steven Pinker on how the human brain works Martin Seligman on happiness and what it means to live a good life Philip Zimbardo on the impact of environment on personality V. S. Ramachandran on the question of self-who "you" are Simon Baron-Cohen on the innate differences between boys and girls George Lakoff on the role of the body and brain on different types of reasoning Alison Gopnik on why human children are the best learning machines in the universe Jonathan Haidt on the connection between emotions, morality, and religious belief
In this fascinating volume, today's foremost scientists discuss their own versions and visions of Einstein: how he has influenced their worldviews, their ideas, their science, and their professional and personal lives. These twenty-four essays are a testament to the power of scientific legacy and are essential reading for scientist and layperson alike. Contributors include: * Roger Highfield on the Einstein myth * John Archibald Wheeler on his meetings with Einstein * Gino C. Segrè, Lee Smolin, and Anton Zeilinger on Einstein's difficulties with quantum theory * Leon M. Lederman on the special theory of relativity * Frank J. Tipler on why Einstein should be seen as a scientific reactionary rather than a scientific revolutionary
A brilliant ensemble of the world's most visionary scientists provides twenty-five original never-before-published essays about the advances in science and technology that we may see within our lifetimes. Theoretical physicist and bestselling author Paul Davies examines the likelihood that by the year 2050 we will be able to establish a continuing human presence on Mars. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi investigates the ramifications of engineering high-IQ, geneticially happy babies. Psychiatrist Nancy Etcoff explains current research into the creation of emotion-sensing jewelry that could gauge our moods and tell us when to take an anti-depressant pill. And evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins explores the probability that we will soon be able to obtain a genome printout that predicts our natural end for the same cost as a chest x-ray. (Will we want to read it? And will insurance companies and governments have access to it?) This fascinating and unprecedented book explores not only the practical possibilities of the near future, but also the social and political ramifications of the developments of the strange new world to come. Also includes original essays by: Lee Smolin Martin Rees Ian Stewart Brian Goodwin Marc D. Hauser Alison Gopnik Paul Bloom Geoffrey Miller Robert M. Sapolsky Steven Strogatz Stuart Kauffman John H. Holland Rodney Brooks Peter Atkins Roger C. Schank Jaron Lanier David Gelernter Joseph LeDoux Judith Rich Harris Samuel Barondes Paul W. Ewald From the Trade Paperback edition.
Unlock your mindFrom the bestselling authors of Thinking, Fast and Slow; The Black Swan; and Stumbling on Happiness comes a cutting-edge exploration of the mysteries of rational thought, decision-making, intuition, morality, willpower, problem-solving, prediction, forecasting, unconscious behavior, and beyond. Edited by John Brockman, publisher of Edge. org ("The world's smartest website"--The Guardian), Thinking presents original ideas by today's leading psychologists, neuroscientists, and philosophers who are radically expanding our understanding of human thought. Daniel Kahneman on the power (and pitfalls) of human intuition and "unconscious" thinking - Daniel Gilbert on desire, prediction, and why getting what we want doesn't always make us happy - Nassim Nicholas Taleb on the limitations of statistics in guiding decision-making - Vilayanur Ramachandran on the scientific underpinnings of human nature - Simon Baron-Cohen on the startling effects of testosterone on the brain - Daniel C. Dennett on decoding the architecture of the "normal" human mind - Sarah-Jayne Blakemore on mental disorders and the crucial developmental phase of adolescence - Jonathan Haidt, Sam Harris, and Roy Baumeister on the science of morality, ethics, and the emerging synthesis of evolutionary and biological thinking - Gerd Gigerenzer on rationality and what informs our choices
Drawn from the cutting-edge frontiers of science, This Explains Everything will revolutionize your understanding of the world.What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation? This is the question John Brockman, publisher of Edge.org ("The world's smartest website"--The Guardian), posed to the world's most influential minds. Flowing from the horizons of physics, economics, psychology, neuroscience, and more, This Explains Everything presents 150 of the most surprising and brilliant theories of the way of our minds, societies, and universe work.Jared Diamond on biological electricity * Nassim Nicholas Taleb on positive stress * Steven Pinker on the deep genetic roots of human conflict * Richard Dawkins on pattern recognition * Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek on simplicity * Lisa Randall on the Higgs mechanism * BRIAN Eno on the limits of intuition * Richard Thaler on the power of commitment * V. S. Ramachandran on the "neural code" of consciousness * Nobel Prize winner ERIC KANDEL on the power of psychotherapy * Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on "Lord Acton's Dictum" * Lawrence M. Krauss on the unification of electricity and magnetism * plus contributions by Martin J. Rees * Kevin Kelly * Clay Shirky * Daniel C. Dennett * Sherry Turkle * Philip Zimbardo * Lee Smolin * Rebecca Newberger Goldstein * Seth Lloyd * Stewart Brand * George Dyson * Matt Ridley
Reporting from the cutting edge of scientific discovery, today's visionary thinkers target the greatest roadblocks to innovation.Few truly new ideas are developed without first abandoning old ones. In the past, discoveries often had to wait for the rise of the next generation to see questions in a new light and let go of old truisms. Today, in a world that is defined by a rapid rate of change, staying on the cutting edge has as much to do with shedding outdated notions as adopting new ones. In this spirit, John Brockman, publisher of the online salon Edge.org ("the world's smartest website"--The Guardian), asked 175 of the world's most influential scientists, economists, artists, and philosophers: What scientific idea is ready for retirement?Jared Diamond explores the diverse ways that new ideas emerge * Nassim Nicholas Taleb takes down the standard deviation * Richard Thaler and novelist Ian McEwan reveal the usefulness of "bad" ideas * Steven Pinker dismantles the working theory of human behavior * Richard Dawkins renounces essentialism * Sherry Turkle reevaluates our expectations of artificial intelligence * Physicist Andrei Linde suggests that our universe and its laws may not be as unique as we think * Martin Rees explains why scientific understanding is a limitless goal * Alan Guth rethinks the origins of the universe * Sam Harris argues that our definition of science is too narrow * Nobel Prize winner Frank Wilczek disputes the division between mind and matter * Lawrence Krauss challenges the notion that the laws of physics were preordained * plus contributions from Daniel Goleman, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Nicholas Carr, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, Matt Ridley, Stewart Brand, Sean Carroll, Daniel C. Dennett, Helen Fisher, Douglas Rushkoff, Lee Smolin, Kevin Kelly, Freeman Dyson, and others.
Featuring a foreword by David Brooks, This Will Make You Smarter presents brilliant-but accessible-ideas to expand every mind. What scientific concept would improve everybody's cognitive toolkit? This is the question John Brockman, publisher of Edge.org, posed to the world's most influential thinkers. Their visionary answers flow from the frontiers of psychology, philosophy, economics, physics, sociology, and more. Surprising and enlightening, these insights will revolutionize the way you think about yourself and the world. Daniel Kahneman on the "focusing illusion" Jonah Lehrer on controlling attention Richard Dawkins on experimentation Aubrey De Grey on conquering our fear of the unknown Martin Seligman on the ingredients of well-being Nicholas Carr on managing "cognitive load" Steven Pinker on win-win negotiating Daniel C. Dennett on benefiting from cycles Jaron Lanier on resisting delusion Frank Wilczek on the brain's hidden layers Clay Shirky on the "80/20 rule" Daniel Goleman on understanding our connection to the natural world V. S. Ramachandran on paradigm shifts Matt Ridley on tapping collective intelligence John McWhorter on path dependence Lisa Randall on effective theorizing Brian Eno on "ecological vision" Richard Thaler on rooting out false concepts J. Craig Venter on the multiple possible origins of life Helen Fisher on temperament Sam Harris on the flow of thought Lawrence Krauss on living with uncertainty
Explore the universe with today's greatest physicists.In the wake of one of the most groundbreaking scientific breakthroughs in modern times, the March 2014 discovery of gravitational ripples from the Big Bang--an apparent confirmation of Alan Guth and Andrei Linde's theory of cosmic inflation--John Brockman of Edge.org has gathered together some of the world's best minds to explain the universe as we currently know it. The contributors--many pioneering theoretical physicists and cosmologists, including Guth and Linde--provide an extraordinary picture of cosmology as it has developed over the past three decades. Alan Guth and Andrei Linde explain the Inflationary Universe theory. Lee Smolin discusses the nature of time. Lisa Randall and Neil Turok elaborate on the theory of branes, two-dimensional structures arising from string theory--whose existence is central to the cyclic universe. Seth Lloyd investigates how the universe behaves like a self-programming computer. Lawrence Krauss provides fresh insight into gravity, dark matter, and the energy of empty space. Brian Greene and Einstein biographer Walter Isaacson speculate on how Albert Einstein might view the theoretical physics of the twenty-first century. The late Benoit Mandelbrot looks back on a long career devoted to fractal geometry. Plus Nobel Prize winner Frank Wilczek, Astronomer Royal MaRtin Rees, Caltech physicist Sean Carroll, Stanford's Leonard Susskind, Oxford's David Deutsch, Cornell's Steven Strogatz, Albert Einstein Professor in Science at Princeton Paul Steinhardt, and more!
The nightly news and conventional wisdom tell us that things are bad and getting worse. Yet despite dire predictions, scientists see many good things on the horizon. John Brockman, publisher of Edge (www.edge.org), the influential online salon, recently asked more than 150 high-powered scientific thinkers to answer a vital question for our frequently pessimistic times: "What are you optimistic about?" Spanning a wide range of topics-from string theory to education, from population growth to medicine, and even from global warming to the end of world-What Are You Optimistic About? is an impressive array of what world-class minds (including Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, New York Times bestselling authors, and Harvard professors, among others) have weighed in to offer carefully considered optimistic visions of tomorrow. Their provocative and controversial ideas may rouse skepticism, but they might possibly change our perceptions of humanity's future.
Even geniuses change their minds sometimes. Edge (www.edge.org), the influential online intellectual salon, recently asked 150 high-powered thinkers to discuss their most telling missteps and reconsiderations: What have you changed your mind about? The answers were brilliant, eye-opening, fascinating, sometimes shocking, and certain to kick-start countless passionate debates. Read Steven Pinker on the future of human evolution; Richard Dawkins on the mysteries of courtship; Sam Harris on the indifference of Mother Nature ; Nassim Nicholas Taleb on the irrelevance of probability; Chris Anderson on the reality of global warming; Alan Alda on the existence of God; Lisa Randall on the secrets of the Sun; Ray Kurzweil on the possibility of extraterrestrial life; Brian Eno on what it means to be a "revolutionary"; Helen Fisher on love, fidelity, and the viability of marriage; Irene Pepperberg on learning from parrots... and many others.
From Copernicus to Darwin, to current-day thinkers, scientists have always promoted theories and unveiled discoveries that challenge everything society holds dear; ideas with both positive and dire consequences. Many thoughts that resonate today are dangerous not because they are assumed to be false, but because they might turn out to be true. What do the world's leading scientists and thinkers consider to be their most dangerous idea? Through the leading online forum Edge (www.edge.org), the call went out, and this compelling and easily digestible volume collects the answers. From using medication to permanently alter our personalities to contemplating a universe in which we are utterly alone, to the idea that the universe might be fundamentally inexplicable, What Is Your Dangerous Idea? takes an unflinching look at the daring, breathtaking, sometimes terrifying thoughts that could forever alter our world and the way we live in it.
More than one hundred of the world's leading thinkers write about things they believe in, despite the absence of concrete proof. Scientific theory, more often than not, is born of bold assumption, disparate bits of unconnected evidence, and educated leaps of faith. Some of the most potent beliefs among brilliant minds are based on supposition alone -- yet that is enough to push those minds toward making the theory viable. Eminent cultural impresario, editor, and publisher of Edge (www.edge.org), John Brockman asked a group of leading scientists and thinkers to answer the question: What do you believe to be true even though you cannot prove it? This book brings together the very best answers from the most distinguished contributors. Thought-provoking and hugely compelling, this collection of bite-size thought-experiments is a fascinating insight into the instinctive beliefs of some of the most brilliant minds today.
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