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Editorial Reviews

Narrators Kirsten Potter and Erik Davies deliver a lively, vibrant reading in this rich, varied, and consistently engaging volume. What's Next: Dispatches On the Future of Science is a collection of essays by a few of the world's most brilliant young scientists on the issues and questions that matter most to them — and to the coming generation. Editor Max Brockman asked these scientists to discuss their work for the general public, and the 18 essays that result are an engrossing peek into some of the most compelling — and consequential — scientific questions of our time. Each scientist takes us to the heart of their research, in fields ranging from neuroscience to theoretical physics to paleoanthropology. In an essay by Katerina Havarti, we learn about the paths to extinction of our own hominid ancestors, and consider the possibility of extinction in our own species. Sean Carroll takes us into the depths of space-time, where it seems we know ever less than was previously thought about the nature of the universe. David M. Eagleman zooms in to the human mind to puzzle out the mysteries in our perception of time. Despite the broad scope of topics, the essays are held together by their common interest in the most fundamental questions of humankind — questions about where we came from, who we are, and where we're going.
In their reading, both Davies and Potter demonstrate a firm grasp on their scientific subject matter, whether they are delving into mirror neurons and the morality of the human mind, as in an essay by Christian Keysers, or leading us on an exploration of the way language shapes our thinking with an essay by Lera Boroditsky. Davies' voice is smooth and controlled — even soothing — but never soporific, and his pacing and tone are sensitive to the complexity and nuance of his subject matter. Potter reads with a voice that is at once melodious and polished, and her experience and talent in fiction narration is evident in her ability to bring the authors' voices to life.
With its solid narration and keen insights on the big scientific questions of our time, What's Next is a captivating listen from beginning to end. —Emily Elert
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Publisher's Summary

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.In 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.
©2009 Max Brockman; (P)2009 Random House
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Roy on 07-15-09

Worth the Time

Max Brockman has done a great service by producing "What's Next?" The book is a series of brief "papers" on various science topics each making current research questions and science issues available to the general public. The first by Laurence Smith, "Will We Decamp for the Northern Rim?," places what we know about aspects of global warming into persepective. Katerina Harvati in "Extinction and the Evolution of Humankind" addresses this environmental issue and its implications. Another by Nick Bostrom, "How to Enhance Human Beings," considers brain enhancement. Steven Alexander brings us up to date with "Just What is Dark Entergy?"

There are a number of papers related to the latest research in pscyhological science and neuroplasticity. Deena Weisberg speaks to the importance of imagination. Engleman approaches our perception of time and how it is changing.

This is a wonderful compilation of fine science writing with something for everyone. The topics have public policy implications, raise philosophical and ethical concerns, and generally informs anyone taking the time to listen.

Well written and well read.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Kenton on 07-21-09


I love to hear it straight from the mouth of those doing the work, and this book delivers exactly that.

I also found it interesting to see the effect the internet has had on this generation of scientists, especially in the psychology fields - they're all focused on distributed network theories. Very interesting.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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