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John Burton Sanderson (JBS) Haldane was one of the twentieth century's most remarkable and versatile thinkers. He made foundational contributions to genetics and evolutionary biology and also found time to contribute to biochemistry, cosmology and statistics. Haldane was also one of his generation's foremost popularizers of science and as this book demonstrates, had a penetrating and witty style reminiscent of Bertrand Russell in his own time and Stephen Jay Gould in ours.
In the slim "Daedalus or Science and the Future", Haldane brings his biting wit, immense understanding of science and exceptional predictive prowess to bear on the state of science in 1924. The title of the book is a metaphor for the scientist and refers to Daedalus, the most inventive of the Greek protagonists. I know of no other book from that period that offers such a perceptive ringside seat to potential events in the future. It is fascinating to hear Haldane projecting twenty, fifty and even a hundred and fifty years ahead. In his lecture he holds forth on a variety of subjects, including capitalism, eugenics, technological progress, human population, chemistry, physics, social progress, the status of women and most prominently the future of biology and medicine. For someone like me from 2011 reading his musings from 1924, the predictions sound remarkably prescient and accurate.
For instance Haldane predicts that solar energy would play an important role in energy policy and also stated the problems with its storage. He mentions the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen made possible through this energy source. He predicts the dwindling of fossil fuels and muses on other possible sources of energy, most notably wind energy.Read more ›
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