What Are You Optimistic About? and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

To view this video download Flash Player


Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering
More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Start reading What Are You Optimistic About? on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

What Are You Optimistic About?: Today's Leading Thinkers on Why Things Are Good and Getting Better [Paperback]

by John Brockman
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

List Price: $14.95
Price: $8.68 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
You Save: $6.27 (42%)
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Want it Monday, April 28? Choose Two-Day Shipping at checkout. Details
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition $8.00  
Paperback $8.68  
Sell Us Your Books
Get up to 80% back when you sell us your books, even if you didn't buy them at Amazon. Learn more

Book Description

October 30, 2007 0061436933 978-0061436932 0

The nightly news and conventional wisdom tell us that things are bad and getting worse. Yet despite dire predictions, scientists see many good things on the horizon. John Brockman, publisher of Edge (www.edge.org), the influential online salon, recently asked more than 150 high-powered scientific thinkers to answer a vital question for our frequently pessimistic times: "What are you optimistic about?"

Spanning a wide range of topics—from string theory to education, from population growth to medicine, and even from global warming to the end of world—What Are You Optimistic About? is an impressive array of what world-class minds (including Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, New York Times bestselling authors, and Harvard professors, among others) have weighed in to offer carefully considered optimistic visions of tomorrow. Their provocative and controversial ideas may rouse skepticism, but they might possibly change our perceptions of humanity's future.

Frequently Bought Together

What Are You Optimistic About?: Today's Leading Thinkers on Why Things Are Good and Getting Better + What Is Your Dangerous Idea?: Today's Leading Thinkers on the Unthinkable + What We Believe but Cannot Prove: Today's Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of Certainty
Price for all three: $30.88

Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The founder and publisher of the influential online science salon Edge.org, John Brockman is the editor of This Will Make You Smarter, This Will Change Everything, and other volumes. He is the CEO of the literary agency Brockman Inc. and lives in New York City.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 374 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (October 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061436933
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061436932
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening and Sometimes Brilliant February 9, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Here is the 2007 EDGE question, put by the editor to prominent scientists all over the world:

"As an activity, as a state of mind, science is fundamentally optimistic. Science figures out how things work and thus can make them work better. Much of the news is either good news or news that can be made good, thanks to ever deepening knowledge and ever more efficient and powerful tools and techniques. Science, on its frontiers, poses more and ever better questions, ever better put. What are you optimistic about? Why? Surprise us!"

I counted 153 essays. Naturally, with only a half-page to four pages each, they are not greatly detailed. Certain themes caught the attention of many contributors:

1. Organized violence is at an all time low. You wouldn't believe it by listening to the news, but the statistics are clear. In the future, live internet access to anywhere on earth by GPS will cause exploiters of all cloths to have to resort to "Are you going to believe us or your lying eyes."

2. We're on the threshold of an era of unbelievable abundance. We will be able to make a self-replicating machine that will absorb energy through solar cells, eat rocks, and be working for humanity by the millions. We will figure out ways to harness solar energy and not need to use energy sources that pollute the environment.

3. Research in physics has been dominated by string theory in recent years which so far is untestable. New technologies will produce astounding insights very soon. The LHC (proton-proton collider) will advance the Standard Model and will find the Higgs boson or perhaps something unexpected. The new LIGO detectors may find gravitational waves. Arrays of wide-field telescopes on earth are being programmed to rapidly scan the universe.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Big Waste of Time April 28, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I make it a rule to always read through a book entirely before reviewing it. It seems only fair but in this case I'm breaking my rule having only made it through about half of "What Are You Optimistic About". I'm breaking my rule because I may well never finish the book.

The cover lists the name of six contributors as well as "many others". Let me tell you, there are many many many others. There are in fact one hundred and fifty three contributors. With three hundred and sixty one pages in the book that leaves each contributor less than two and a half pages. Brian Greene, for instance, has a mere one hundred and seventy one WORDS. Jared Diamond has even less. Combined they take up just slightly more than one page and they constitute over 30% of the writers prominent enough to get their names on the cover. The point is that each writer is only afforded a scant amount of space and there's nowhere near enough time to write anything more than some brief musings.

My second problem is that many of the authors optimism is related to the decline of religion. The author groups like subjects together and the anti-religious sentiments come near the start of the book. You wont find too many people more critical of organized religion than myself but I always hope to see science take the high ground. I encourage science to defend itself against spurious attacks such as the ones leveled at evolution and climate change but I cringe when science returns fire. Daniel C Dennett writes, `I'm so optimistic that I expect to live to see the evaporation of the powerful mystique of religion' while Geoffrey Miller refers to the `Gutless' talking heads of the extreme religious right.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting information about "what's going on out there" September 26, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I purchased this book some time ago when my life seemed to be falling apart. I guess I hoped it would give me something to be optimistic about myself. Unfortunately that didn't happen; things just got worse, not only for me but for many people like me in the country and actually the world. At the time I had set the book aside after only reading a few chapters, but when I came across it again recently while thinning out my library, I decided to read it. I decided it might be fun to see if any of the author's imaginings had come true. While few of them seemed to have done so, I can see now that most of their optimisms had to do with things that would happen during the 21st century.

The book is actually a series of short essays, some only a paragraph in length, that bring together some of the thoughts on progress as conceived by various individuals successful in a wide range of intellectual endeavors, well known physicists, psychologists, medical researchers and so. While the reader will find that there is a degree of repetition--the same TOE and GUT on the Christmas list of two different physicists, for instance--there is still much that recommends the book in its very diversity of specialties. If you know something about theoretical physics, you may already know about the hopes of physicists for the future of their science, but most of us don't have a handle, even a tenuous one, on all of the scientific and technological fields out there. This book at least gives the reader a chance to find out something about what these bright people are doing and what they hope to achieve within the next century. It's more or less a sampler of what there is to know out there, and a marvellous guide to further topics for personal study.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars book
had to get this book for school. Have not started reading it yet. Had to buy 10 books for the class. Good price!
Published 3 months ago by William J. Schwartz
5.0 out of 5 stars Hopefull
I don't know how many people are familiar with the Edge [...] online publication where the world's leading scientists and thinkers tell us their thoughts on the the "question of... Read more
Published on July 21, 2011 by Maritsa
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific series
This is one of a series edited by John Brockman that consists of brief but fascinating essays by leading scientists and thinkers. Rich and pleasurable insights abound.
Published on April 7, 2010 by Steven A. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this series
Many of the essays in this collection are short 1-pagers. Nonetheless, reading through the book, one gets the sense that one is in the midst of great thinkers, peering over their... Read more
Published on January 7, 2010 by David Larson
3.0 out of 5 stars not as inspiring as I'd have liked
I found I didn't care what a lot of the authors thought. Seems I can't read my way into optmism. It's an inside job.
Published on March 28, 2009 by Abbe Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars OPTIMISTIC about optimism
This is an excellent text: brief statements by a variety of top flight scientists, giving me much more to be optimistic about!
Published on August 4, 2008 by Gene C. Bammel
4.0 out of 5 stars It is not always wise to be optimistic
The 2007 Edge Symposium contains one- hundred sixty answers to the questions, "What are you optimistic about? Read more
Published on November 3, 2007 by Shalom Freedman
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews


There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Look for Similar Items by Category