Will climate change force a massive human migration to the Northern Rim?
How does our sense of morality arise from the structure of the brain?
What does the latest research in language acquisition tells us about the role of culture in the way we think?
What does current neurological research tell us about the nature of time?
This wide-ranging collection of never-before-published essays offers the very latest insights into the daunting scientific questions of our time. Its contributors—some of the most brilliant young scientists working today—provide not only an introduction to their cutting-edge research, but discuss the social, ethical, and philosophical ramifications of their work. With essays covering fields as diverse as astrophysics, paleoanthropology, climatology, and neuroscience, What's Next? is a lucid and informed guide to the new frontiers of science.
Editor Brockman, an agent at a "literary and software agency," approached some of the world's rising science stars in a disciplines to explain how they're "tackling some of science's toughest questions and raising new ones." The 18 new essays that resulted evoke a fantastic cross-section of societal concerns, focusing largely on issues of ethics and the human mind. German neuroscientist Christian Keysers explains how mirror neurons, located in the brain's center of voluntary action and body-control, allow us to have vicarious experiences and use them to choose "good and not evil" when dealing with others. Psychologist Jason Mitchell expands this idea to "social thought," in which humans achieve sophisticated coordination with the actions of others in order to, for instance, "design, construct, and operate an airplane." Biologist Vanessa Woods and anthropologist Brian Hare team up to explain how dogs evolved an ability to read human minds superior to even our closest primate relatives. Other articles cover quantum field theory, climate change, the ecological niche of viruses, social insects and interdisciplinary science. This absorbing collection makes easy-to-read but thought-provoking material for even casual science buffs.
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