Speaking about optimism, I saw today that The Edge Annual Question — 2007 is
WHAT ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC ABOUT? WHY?
"The 160 responses to this year's Edge Question span topics such as string theory, intelligence, population growth, cancer, climate and much much more. Contributing their optimistic visions are a who's who of interesting and important world-class thinkers."
It is definitely worth having a look! You'll find a lot of familiar names on the list.
E.g. Leon Ledermann is optimistic about science education: 'a war we must declare and win: The War on Ignorance.'
Paul Davies is convinced that 'Some time before the end of the century there will be a human colony on Mars.'
David Deutsch tells us that 'failure is opportunity.'
Alexander Vilenkin uses the opportunity to advertise the multiverse: 'In my view, it is science [...]'
Lee Smolin is optimistic that 'new experiments [...] are likely to transform our knowledge of fundamental physics'
Lisa Randall is also 'optimistic that we'll learn something truly new and exciting about the fundamental nature of matter'. I give her the optimist award for the best writing, and the sentence 'I'm anticipating that society will increasingly recognize and understand the value of knowledge. People will want to make their own critical judgments, know more facts, and stop deferring to questionable authorities or visual media for their education. '
John Horgan is optimistic not about The End of Science, but the End of War: 'In fact civilization, far from creating the problem of warfare, is apparently helping us to solve it.' (See also The End of Physics?)
Frank Wilczek thinks that there will be no End of Physics, because he is optimistic 'that physics will not achieve a Theory of Everything'.
Leonard Susskind states that some humans have successfully rewired their brains 'beyond the things that natural selection could have wired it for' and is optimistic 'that we may be able to go beyond our Darwinian roots in other ways.'
Carlo Rovelli is optimistic that 'scientific thinking is growing in depth' and writes 'The number of people that have realized how much nonsensical is there in religion continues to increase, and no doubt this will help decrease belligerency and intolerance.'
And the nicest piece I find that by Brian Greene who writes so well I just can't delete a single syllable:
"As I help raise my two year old son, I witness a basic truth familiar to parents through the ages and across the continents — we begin life as uninhibited explorers with a boundless fascination for the ever-growing world to which we have access. And what I find amazing is that if that fascination is fed, and if it's challenged, and if it's nurtured, it can grow to an intellect capable of grappling with such marvels as the quantum nature of reality, the energy locked inside the atom, the curved spacetime of the cosmos, the elementary constituents of matter, the genetic code underlying life, the neural circuitry responsible for consciousness, and perhaps even the very origin of the universe.
While we evolved to survive, once we have the luxury of taking such survival for granted, the ability of our species to unravel mysteries grand and deep is awe inspiring. I'm optimistic that the world will increasingly value the power of such rational thought and will increasingly rely on its insights in making the most critical decisions."
And I? I am optimistic that we will accept the challenge of the world changing rapidly, and take it into account in political, sociological and scientific decisions to be made. I am optimistic that 'modern' civilizations recall that science is about the understanding of nature, and not in the first line about being internationally competitive. I am optimistic that I will write a couple of good papers this year, that I'll have fun with my blog, and that theoretical physics will see a lot of young optimists who'll learn how to sail despite some past storms in teacups.
TAGS: PHYSICS, SCIENCE, OPTIMISM