Each year a forum for the world’s most brilliant minds asks one question. This year’s drew responses from such names as Richard Dawkins, Ian McEwan and Alan Alda. Here, edge.org founder John Brockman explains how the question came into being and we pick some of the best responses
via What scientific idea is ready for retirement? | Science | The Observer.
I found this article interesting, particularly the essays from Pepperberg, Dawkins, and especially Tegmark’s observations about the problem of measurement in physics. I have no idea if his solution is what’s needed, but it’s interesting, particularly in light of our conversations on Jim Baggott’s book about the problems in theoretical physics.
- The Edge’s Annual Question: The Way We Produce and Advance Science (blogs.scientificamerican.com)
- Out There: Over the Side With Old Scientific Tenets (nytimes.com)
- TOE movies: Wilczek, Tegmark, Strominger, Guth, … (motls.blogspot.com)
- Science can only falsify, not retire, ideas (motls.blogspot.com)
- The Global Mind That Came In From the Counterculture: John Brockman (3quarksdaily.com)
4 thoughts on “What scientific idea is ready for retirement? | Science | The Observer”
I didn’t really follow Tegmark, but Dawkins comments seemed particularly on the mark.
Agreed on Dawkins.
My impression was that Tegmark was saying that the concept of infinity, which is a metaphysical concept, has become a hindrance to mathematical and scientific reasoning. I don’t know mathematics well enough to have an opinion, but his sounded interesting.
Thanks again ‘SAP’! I’d read Dennis Overbye’s piece in the NYT on this a couple of days ago, noted it, and moved on. Your post led me to visit Edge.org yesterday where I proceeded to spend the rest of the day going through the list multiple times, reading over a dozen of the answers(probably closer to 2), and I still have a 1/2 dozen to read. Needless to say I found some interesting stuff.
Two I found especially of interest(among many) were Thomas Metzinger on ‘Cognitive Agency’ and Edward Slingerland on ‘Scientific Morality’. Slingerland came to my attention previously:
‘Smart atheist heads $3-million grant into religion and morality’
(again, don’t miss the good links in the article)
Thanks again … again!
Thanks! I spent my own hour or so paging through the Edge responses last night. Jonathan Haidt’s caution about using Occam’s razor too aggressively caught my eye.
Another was Freeman Dyson’s dismissal of the collapse of the wave function.
Baggott had mentioned in his book that there was no actual empirical evidence for the wave function collapse, which I thought sounded crazy on first reading, but having looked a bit over the last week, I’m starting to realize much of the cited evidence are thought experiments, which I hadn’t realized before.