Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 Edge Annual Question

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

2016's Edge Answers
For a number of years, John Brockman, publisher, literary agent and businessman has posed the membership of Edge an annual question. The idea is for scientists (mostly) to write short accessible essays for non-specialists.

If you have not heard of or seen the annual questions here are a few examples of past provocations.

2011. What Scientific Concept Would Improve Everybody's Cognitive Toolkit?
2012. What is Your Favorite, Deep, Elegant, or Beautiful Explanation?
2014. What Scientific Idea is Ready for Retirement?
2016.  What Do You Think the Most Interesting Recent [Scientific] News? What Makes it Important?

The 2017 annual question is "What Scientific Term or Concept Ought to be More Widely Known?"

There are 205 responses to be browsed and/or read and/or keep. I've been through the list once or twice and will continue for a few more days but I've read only a few. Here are some of my favorites.

Janna Levin, Barnard College, The Principle of Least Action
Steven Pinker, Harvard University, The Second Law of Thermodynamics
Frank Wilczek, MIT, Complementarity (see note below)
Lisa Randall, Harvard University, Effective Theory
Sabine Hossenfelder, Optimization
John Matthews, NASA's Goddard Space Center, The Big Bang
Keith Devlin, H-Star Institute, Number Sense
Richard Prum, Yale University, Phylogeny

You can browse past annual questions from 2005 and before that news from the Edge, here.

Note: It was Niels Bohr who conceived of the Principle of Complementarity (1934). Here is a favorite statement of Bohr's Principle of Complementarity, based on the so-called wave-particle duality for light:
"But what is light really? Is it a wave or a shower of photons? There seems no likelihood for forming a consistent description of the phenomena of light by a choice of only one of the two languages. It seems as though we must use sometimes the one theory and sometimes the other, while at times we may use either. We are faced with a new kind of difficulty. We have two contradictory pictures of reality; separately neither of them fully explains the phenomena of light, but together they do." — Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld, The Evolution of Physics, pg. 262-263.

No comments:

Post a Comment