- Series: Edge Question Series
- Paperback: 528 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial (February 11, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 006229623X
- ISBN-13: 978-0062296238
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 54 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #456,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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What Should We Be Worried About?: Real Scenarios That Keep Scientists Up at Night (Edge Question Series)
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*Starred Review* Each year, Edge founder Brockman and “Edge stalwarts” mark the anniversary of the speculative online science salon by posing a far-reaching question as the catalyst for a multidisciplinary essay collection. Brockman introduces this year’s substantial and engrossing anthology, What Should We Be Worried About?, by noting, “Nothing can stop us from worrying, but science can teach us how to worry better, and when to stop worrying.” The array of subjects 150 leading thinkers and scientists identify as worrisome is vast and varied, while the outlooks expressed in their pithy thought-pieces are provocative and enlightening. Psychologist Steven Pinker identifies hidden threats to peace. Cosmologist and astrophysicist Martin Rees shares his concern about climate change. Philosopher Daniel C. Dennett and science historian George Dyson ponder the risky vulnerability of the Internet. Biologist Seiran Sumner shudders over the dangers of synthetic biology. Neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore considers “how our rapidly changing world is shaping the developing teenage brain.” Theoretical physicist Lisa Randall is one of many who fret that there won’t be future funding for major long-term research projects. Water resources, viruses, low science literacy, and our failure to achieve global cooperation are all addressed with striking clarity. By taking this bold approach to significant quandaries, Brockman and the Edge contributors offer fresh and invaluable perspectives on crucial aspects of our lives. --Donna Seaman
“Compelling. . . . Brockman offers an impressive array of ideas from a diverse group that’s sure to make readers think.” (Publishers Weekly)
“From a cohort of highly influential people ... you will be surprised, you will learn a lot, and indeed, you will have a higher quality of things to worry about.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Edge.org has become an epicenter of bleeding-edge insight across science, technology and beyond, hosting conversations with some of our era’s greatest thinkers” (Atlantic.com)
“Substantial and engrossing. . . . Brockman and the Edge contributors offer fresh and invaluable perspectives on crucial aspects of our lives.” (Booklist (starred review))
“Reads like an atlas of fear.” (New York Times)
“This collection helps us see the myriad possible concerns laid out before us, articulating the various elements of fear that we need to fear.” (Washington Post)
“An interesting collection of food for thought.” (Iron Mountain Daily News)
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Reading these essays--in bits and pieces now and then--is getting to be a delightful habit. Whenever I have five or ten minutes to kill, I know I can turn to my digital downloaded Edge book. I always keep it loaded (on the device, rather than in the Cloud) for quick access usually using my phone rather than my Kindle device. That way, I know I will never be caught without something brilliant and fascinating to entertain me.
I particularly enjoyed this Edge question: “What should we be worried about?” John Brockman asked the brilliant members of Edge to “Tell us something that worries you (for scientific reasons), but doesn't seem to be on the popular radar yet—and why it should be. Or tell us something that you have stopped worrying about, even if others do, and why it should be taken off the radar.” For me that sounded irresistible. It was the right question to hold my interest.
I’d say about 50% of the essays were delightfully thought-provoking. I can finish one in a few minutes and then sit and think about it…or use it as a conversation piece with the next clever person with whom I find myself conversing. Another 25% of the essays are merely pleasurable, but contain nothing remarkably new or noteworthy. Even so, I enjoy revisiting these ideas as presented by the brilliant minds of Edge…unquestionably some of the brightest and most original minds on the planet. Some of the writings are exceptionally creative; others are witty and clever. And then, of course, there is the 25% that for one reason or another don’t appeal to me at all. I’ve learned to identify those essays quickly and skip them.
In short: these essays are intellectual candy for any inquiring mind.
Pick up if you are looking for a challenging read that will demand mental effort and great dinner party conversation.