Wednesday, November 12, 2003

On a Lighter Note ...

Science Times turns 25! The first issue appeared on November 14, 1978. In this celebratory issue, the NY times poses "25 of the most provocative questions facing science".

The Times is quick to point out that, as always, the answers are subject to change.

1) Does Science Matter? (new questions, new problems but, in a word, yes)

2) Is War Our Biological Destiny (or was Plato correct that only the dead have seen the end of War - it at least appears that we haven't)

3) Will Humans ever visit Mars? (more likely questions are when, how, who first & for how much?)

4) How Does the Brain work (the next frontier; at this juncture the more we learn the less we understand)

5) What is Gravity, Really? (revisiting this law - new theories)

6) Will We Ever Find Atlantis? (fantasy that lives on because its existence can't be disproved? -hmm)

7) What Should We Eat? (less than we do currently)

8) When Will the Next Ice Age Begin? (don't worry; not in our lifetime - ~80,000 years to go)

9) What Happened Before the Big Bang? (string theory v. loop quantum gravity)

10) Could We Live Forever? (life-expectancies of 130 by 2050? Define "live")

11) Are Men Necessary? (sexual dimorphism confers advantage - we're stuck)

12) Are Women Necessary? (eggs in lab from female or male - will females be irrelevant?)

13) What Is The Next Plague? (natural or bioterrorism?)

14) Can Robots Become Conscious? (first we need to figure out what consciousness is)

15) Why Do We Sleep? (Do we need REM stage for brain development)

16) Are Animals Smarter Than We Think? (some maybe yes, some maybe no)

17) Can Science Prove The Existence of God? (or disprove for that matter)

18) Is Evolution Truly Random? (tell-tale experiment not possible)

19) How Did Life Begin? (what came first - RNA or DNA)

20) Can Drugs Make Us Happier? Smarter? (define 'happy', 'smart')

21) Should We Improve Our Genome? (sex as recreation, science for reproduction- ethics?)

22) How Much Nature Is Enough? (loss inevitable, what's acceptable)

23) What Is the Most Important Problem in Math Today? (Riemann hypothesis - formula to find prime numbers)

24) Where Are Those Aliens? (absence of evidence is not evidence of absence - hey isn't that the George W Bush miserable failure line for WMDs)

25) Do Paranormal Phenomena Exist? (not so you'd notice)


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