This book was published in 2002. It is a collection of essays on the future of various scientific disciplines, and how advances in these disciplines might shape the world of tomorrow.
I think, however, that the title needs to be revised. Given that this book first appeared in 2002, which is almost ancient by modern scientific standards, the title ought to be changed to "The Next Forty-One Years... and Counting." This title would also better reflect the fact that any collection of essays, like this one, is never going to be much more than a sandcastle, threatened by the constant tide of new discoveries.
So what did I learn from this book? Answer: not much. Very few of the essays go into any kind of detail, and those that do are either indecipherable or incredibly contentious. I'm not really sure what the editor of this book, a Mr. John Brockman, was thinking. Perhaps he thought that quantity would make up for quality. Or perhaps he thought the handful of better-known authors represented here would make up for all the lesser-known, far less insightful authors that penned the majority of this volume.
Or, put another way, what I learned from this book was:
- Psychology is stupid. It is not a science, and it is not likely to become scientific anytime in the near future. Psychologists, almost as a rule, pick what they like from Science, much as one would pick from a buffet table, taking what they like and leaving anything potentially contradictory.
- Professors of mathematics, no matter how hard they try to put things in "plain language," will almost always fail to do so.
- The Human Genome Project is going to crack everything wide open, even though no one seems to know exactly how or when.
- Physicists might just discover the Answer to Everything any day now, or they might not.
- Authors as accessible as Paul Davies are wasted on books like this. It would be better to read other books, possibly written solely by Paul Davies, instead.