Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What Is Reality?

(Click through to the journal to read the individual essays.)

"In a special collection of articles published beginning 1 July 2005, Science Magazine and its online companion sites celebrate the journal's 125th anniversary with a look forward -- at the most compelling puzzles and questions facing scientists today. A special, free news feature in Science explores 125 big questions that face scientific inquiry over the next quarter-century...


The Top 25 Essays by our news staff on 25 big questions facing science over the next quarter-century.

> What Is the Universe Made Of?
> What is the Biological Basis of Consciousness?
> Why Do Humans Have So Few Genes?
> To What Extent Are Genetic Variation and Personal Health Linked?
> Can the Laws of Physics Be Unified?
> How Much Can Human Life Span Be Extended?
> What Controls Organ Regeneration?
> How Can a Skin Cell Become a Nerve Cell?
> How Does a Single Somatic Cell Become a Whole Plant?
> How Does Earth's Interior Work?
> Are We Alone in the Universe?
> How and Where Did Life on Earth Arise?
> What Determines Species Diversity?
> What Genetic Changes Made Us Uniquely Human?
> How Are Memories Stored and Retrieved?
> How Did Cooperative Behavior Evolve?
> How Will Big Pictures Emerge from a Sea of Biological Data?

'Biology is rich in descriptive data--and getting richer all the time. Large-scale methods of probing samples, such as DNA sequencing, microarrays, and automated gene-function studies, are filling new databases to the brim. Many subfields from biomechanics to ecology have gone digital, and as a result, observations are more precise and more plentiful. A central question now confronting virtually all fields of biology is whether scientists can deduce from this torrent of molecular data how systems and whole organisms work. All this information needs to be sifted, organized, compiled, and--most importantly--connected in a way that enables researchers to make predictions based on general principles...'

> How Far Can We Push Chemical Self-Assembly?
> What Are the Limits of Conventional Computing?
> Can We Selectively Shut Off Immune Responses?
> Do Deeper Principles Underlie Quantum Uncertainty and Nonlocality?

' "Quantum mechanics is very impressive," Albert Einstein wrote in 1926. "But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing." As quantum theory matured over the years, that voice has gotten quieter--but it has not been silenced. There is a relentless murmur of confusion underneath the chorus of praise for quantum theory...'

> Is an Effective HIV Vaccine Feasible?
> How Hot Will the Greenhouse World Be?
> What Can Replace Cheap Oil -- and When?
> Will Malthus Continue to Be Wrong?"


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