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Interrogating and Shaping the World Through Science

A Conversation withAinissa Ramirez[6.25.20] What I noticed over the years is that people were starting to see science as entertainment and not as a tool or a lens to understand the world. The thing that scientists do is ask great questions. We need people who can interrogate and probe the world so they can develop their muscle of being critical thinkers....

Computation All the Way Down

A Conversation withStephen Wolfram[6.19.20] We're now in this situation where people just assume that science can compute everything, that if we have all the right input data and we have the right models, science will figure it out. If we learn that our universe is fundamentally computational, that throws us right into the idea that computation is...

How Humans Make the Earth Their Home

A Conversation withLaurence C. Smith[6.12.20] Beginning in 2012, and for many summers ever since, my team and I have been helicoptering onto the Greenland ice sheet, in this fantastical melt zone. We use helicopters to string cableways over the top of rushing super glacial rivers so that we can hang this river discharge measurement technology called...

Best-Case and Worst-Case Scenarios

Life In the Time of COVID: An Edge SymposiumByJared Diamond[5.7.20][ED. NOTE: This is the first in a series of reflections by Edgies on the new world in which we are all living.] My best-case scenario for what's going on now is—assuming that within the next half year, we do deal successfully with the COVID crisis—that it will become a model for people...

We Have the Power to Destroy Ourselves Without the Wisdom to Ensure That We Don't

A Conversation withToby Ord[4.6.20] I've been thinking about just how bright our future could be, how science knows almost no limits to what we could achieve, to the durations that we could last, to the portion of the cosmos that we could discover and explore, and to the heights of quality in each of our lives or the types of achievements we could...

Remembering Freeman Dyson

Freeman Dyson[3.19.20]Photo credit: Ann Yow "A unique intellect—and a great and kind man." —Martin Rees NEW!! THE REALITY CLUB: John Brockman, Esther Dyson, Martin Rees, David Kaiser, George Dyson, Jennifer Jacquet, Max Tegmark, Rich Muller, Susan Schneider, Gino Segre, Frank Tipler, Danny Hillis, Brian Keating, Lee Smolin, John Brockman DAWKINS...

Freeman Dyson: 1923 - 2020

Freeman Dyson[2.28.20] Photo: Freeman Dyson, August 1939, compliments of George Dyson Freeman Dyson (1923 - 2020) ED. NOTE: On February 3, 2019, Freeman Dyson wrote to me in response to my interest in commissioning him to write a new essay for Edge: From: dyson@ias.edu Dear John, Thank you for your message of January 2 announcing your new agenda...

Realism Is False

A Conversation withDonald D. Hoffman[1.27.20] . . . I want to propose that realism is false, and what we're seeing is more like a user interface or a virtual reality headset. Think about a virtual reality game of tennis. You're playing VR tennis with a friend, you both have your headset and body suits on, you see your friend's avatar on a tennis court and...

Reuben Hersh: 1927-2020

Reuben Hersh[1.21.20] REUBEN HERSH, (1927-2020), was professor emeritus at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. He was the recipient (with Martin Davis) of the Chauvenet Prize and (with Edgar Lorch) the Ford Prize. Hersh was the co-author (with Philip J. Davis) of The Mathematical Experience and Descartes' Dream, which won the National Book...

The Causal Theory of Views

A Conversation withLee Smolin[12.19.19] An event has a view of the world. First, let me tell you what I mean by a view. A view is the information that that event has about how it fits into the rest of the world. That includes who its parents were (by which I mean the events in its past that gave rise to it) and how much energy and momentum was propagated...

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