First a bit of background. The Edge Foundation, Inc. (www.edge.org) is an organization of science and technology intellectuals created in 1988 as an outgrowth of The Reality Club. Its motto is
‘To arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves.’
The Edge website is where scientists and others are invited to contribute their thoughts in a manner readily accessible to non-specialist readers. In doing so, leading thinkers are able to communicate directly with each other and the public without the intervention of middlemen such as journalists and journal editors … in other words, the target audience is you.
Each year they pose a question and then publish the thoughts of various thinkers in response to it.
This year, the question they have posed is … “WHAT SCIENTIFIC CONCEPT WOULD IMPROVE EVERYBODY’S COGNITIVE TOOLKIT?”
then they proceed to define what they are asking …
The term ‘scientific”is to be understood in a broad sense as the most reliable way of gaining knowledge about anything, whether it be the human spirit, the role of great people in history, or the structure of DNA. A “scientific concept” may come from philosophy, logic, economics, jurisprudence, or other analytic enterprises, as long as it is a rigorous conceptual tool that may be summed up succinctly (or “in a phrase”) but has broad application to understanding the world.
In response they have had over 163 replies from some of the leading thinkers of our age including, well known folks such as Richard Dawkins, V.S. Ramachandran, J. Craig Venter, Martin Rees, Carl Zimmer, Sam Harris, P.Z. Myers, Sue Blackmore, Lawrence Krauss, Daniel Dennett, Michael Shermer, Aubrey De Grey, Steven Pinker, George Dyson, Bruce Hood, and many many more.
You will want to read this … no really, you will, trust me. So, to start reading, you can begin here.
I recommend treating it like a fine wine … do not guzzle in one sitting, instead sit back, relax and sup slowly in small doses as you bask in the stream of new ideas.