Thursday, April 28, 2011

Book Blog 3: 50 Years from Today

I've been slowly reading the book called 50 Years from Today. It is an interesting collection of short writings by 60 influential people in the world in 2008.

I like the book because it shows a glimpse into the minds of intellectual people when they think about what life in the near future might be like.

Many of the writers predict that technology will play a huge part in transforming many different areas of life including healthcare, transportation, international relations, and commerce.
Chapter 50 is Doug Osherhoff's.  He brings up the need to develop alternative energy sources.  Oil, he says is being used faster than new sources of it are found, and coal is dirty and harmful in the long-term.  He is concerned about global warming, and how the United States has not taken a leadership role in dealing with that issue.  Also, he is concerned with religious objections to promising scientific fields like stem-cell research.

In chapter 51, Lyman Page talks about the recent explosion of interest in cosmology.  In the past 15 years, he says, scientists have pinned down the age of the universe to 13.7 billion years old (with an error margin of 200 million years or so).  In the next 50 years, he predicts that we will have much more powerful telescopes that will enable us to better observe the trillions of other galaxies in the universe.

In chapter 52, Carol M. Browner, former administrator of the EPA, not surprisingly highlights the severity of the problem of climate change, and predicts we will have learned to respect the environment more.

Popular atheist writer and biologist Richard Dawkins says in chapter 53 that we will have killed the soul.  Humans will be known to be only material beings.  The idea that humans have a soul which is separate from the body is an idea, he says, that will have been disproved.  

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