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Future Science: Essays from the cutting edge [Kindle Edition]

Max Brockman
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The next wave of science writing is here. Editor Max Brockman has talent-spotted 19 young scientists, working on leading-edge research across a wide range of fields. Nearly half of them are women, and all of them are great communicators: their passion and excitement makes this collection a wonderfully invigorating read.

We hear from an astrobiologist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena about the possibilities for life elsewhere in the solar system (and the universe); from the director of Yale's Comparative Cognition Laboratory about why we keep making the same mistakes; from a Cambridge lab about DNA synthesis; from the Tanzanian savannah about what lies behind attractiveness; we hear about how to breed plants to withstand disease, about ways to extract significance from the Interne's enormous
datasets, about oceanography, neuroscience, microbiology, and evolutionary psychology.

Product Description


Punchy, provocative and packed with fascinating insights (BBC Focus magazine )

marvellous (Independent on Sunday )

irrestibile (Sunday Times )

About the Author

Max Brockman is the vice president of Brockman, Inc. a literary agency, and the editor of

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 414 KB
  • Print Length: 274 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307741915
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (13 Oct. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00681842Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #538,730 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What Makes Us Tick? 23 Jun. 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The title of this book should have been 'What Makes Us Tick?' The proportion of articles on the Behavioural Sciences is excessive (12 of the 18 contributions) - quite a few pure scientists hardly regard the Behavioural Sciences as more than a series of statistical gymnastics marinated in a soup of a priori judgements.
The quality and level of the articles is very uneven and the claim of the editor to allow the contributors 'to speak for themselves' suggests editorial laziness rather than liberalism.
Many of the contributors though presenting us with fascinating facts fail to move from the specific to the general. That is what distinguishes the interesting article from the inspired, the prosaic from the `Cutting edge'. OK, the authors may, for perfectly legitimate reasons, hesitate to draw wide-ranging conclusions; that is perfectly understandable if the readers are your professional peers and you are publishing in a learned journal. But how much more interesting it would have been for the sort of person at which this book is presumably aimed if more wide-ranging conclusions could have been made . If the authors were reluctant or unable to do so, Brockman could have added a summary paragraph himself.
The properly-scientific articles - The Coming Age of Ocean Exploration, Molecular Cut and Paste for example, do at least the fulfill the title and sub title's description, and are fascinating. But they sit uncomfortably among all the social stuff.
Felix Warneken's article `Children's Helping Hands' can only reinforce most people's conception of scientists as coming from Planet Zog. Has he no children himself? Has he no friends with children?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Really accessible and interesting. 14 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Alright, "accessible" is pushing it: while the essays on serpentising vents and the communicability of environmental-stress-caused mutations was easy enough for the lay-person to understand, it took an entire Sunday for myself and my other half to even try to get our head around the physics of the continually expanding universe. Good book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Quite good 20 Mar. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I feel that this book did not startle me quite as much as I would have expected from such a fascinating theme.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding 17 Jan. 2012
I read a lot and this is easily my top 10 for science. Last night I missed my stop on the train because I was so engrossed by this. Seriously, I traveled 2 extra stops. Each Essay is simple and well explained enough for the lay person but absolutely fascinating. I would rate this up with Feynman's works on Physics or Jared Diamond's Guns Germs and Steel. Seriously, CANNOT PRAISE ENOUGH.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading, and not above the head of a lay-person 23 Aug. 2011
By David Dubbert - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you're not already aware, this is a set of essays by young-ish scientists at the forefronts of their fields. In general, these essays are very accessible. The only one I really had to work to understand was Anthony Aguirre's essay about infinity. I personally found the essays about the mind and reasoning to be of particular interest. Fiery Cushman's discussion of moral luck and philosophy as a science broadened my conception of both topics. In addition, I've always kind of thought of the self and the mind as being somewhat separate from the body, and Liane Young's essay "How We Read People's Moral Minds" made me directly confront and deal with that belief. There are many other fascinating essays relevant to your everyday life, and I recommend this book for the generally and broadly inquisitive reader.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This fabulous Edge symposium, like the best in science, is modest and daring 26 Aug. 2011
By Didaskalex - Published on
"We'd certainly be better off if everyone sampled the fabulous Edge symposium, which, like the best in science, is modest and daring all at once." -- David Brooks, NY Times

Academia, with its somewhat slow coping structure and fixed traditions, resisted needs for a review of the outdated programs that could redefine a description of effective science and arts education curricula, worthy of the 21st century. Harvard Dean Summers has lately called for a more interdisciplinary approach to learning, that looks at the foundational objectives of a number of curriculum areas, in order to dissolve the boundaries of areas of study and encourage learning across the curriculum. Although he could not sell his pursued agenda, he has been vindicated recently by Cornell's Martin Bernal in the 'Black Athena debate'. While Academia, may appear a strange place whenever looked at from outside, the outsiders are blocked from looking in on the research being done by this next generation of scientists, some of whom will go on to become leading actors and communicators of science.

Editor Max Brockman presents eighteen essays of some of the most promising and creative investigators and innovative writers in this collection of intellectual research that arouses great interest, in order to introduce most recent theses, concepts and scientific speculation. He believes this opacity, confined to academic journals, was the drive behind the first essay collection in this intellectual series, he edits. "Future Science" is presenting to American readers and science enthusiasts eighteen youthful scientists, most of whom are offering their writings to general readers for the first time. Featured in this collection are a virologist discussing his research in immunity; a computer scientist, analyzing massive data sets telling us what it reveals about individuals and society; a neuroscientist, exploring the physical effects of social rejection; and a physicist, giving the readers a virtual taste of infinity.

Going beyond biology's limits, or how laboratory advances, will change the way we think about the law. What consumes the best and brightest minds working in science today, engaged in the future prospects of science, seemed to be an ideal means and appropriate way for this group of scientists to communicate their ideas. The organization behind the work is the same, while the title of every new collection is different. Future Science features essays of scientists from a broad field of sciences, writing about what they're working on and what excites them the most. His new anthology, "Future Science: Essays from the Cutting Edge," is intended for the curious layperson, a provocative survey of the ever-expanding scientific frontier. This exciting collection of writings by younger scientists describes the very 'transparent boundaries' of our knowledge.

"Frequently, through my work as a literary agent, I've noticed that if you're an academic who writes about your work for a general audience, you're thought by some of your colleagues to be wasting your time and, ..., endangering your academic career." --Max Brockman

*** Here follows just a small sample from Future Science's essays:

"If humans are to succeed as a species, our collective shame over destroying other life-forms should grow in proportion to our understanding of their various ecological roles. Maybe the same attention to one another that promoted our own evolutionary success will keep us from failing the other species in life's fabric and, in the end, ourselves." -- Jennifer Jacquet, Is Shame Necessary?

"For much of human history, we have been explorers of other continents -- examiners of rocks and regions ripe for habitation, the culmination being the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration and the capstone being our flags and footprints on the surface of the Moon. But in the decades and centuries to come, exploration, both human and robotic, will increasingly focus on the ocean depths, of both our own ocean and the subsurface oceans believed to exist on at least five moons of the outer Solar System: Jupiter's Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto and Saturn's Titan and Enceladus. The total volume of liquid water on those worlds is estimated to be more than a hundred times the volume of liquid water on Earth." -- Kevin Hand, On the Coming Age of Ocean Exploration

"My virus will be self-replicating, but only in certain tissue-culture cells; it will cause any cell it infects to glow bright green and will serve as a research tool to help me answer questions concerning antiviral immunity. I have designed my virus out of parts--some standard and often used, some particular to this virus--using sequences that hail from bacteria, bacterio-phages, jellyfish, and the common cold virus. By simply putting these parts together, ... A combination of cheap DNA synthesis, freely accessible databases, and our ever expanding knowledge of protein science is conspiring to permit a revolution in creating powerful molecular tools." -- William McEwan, Molecular Cut and Paste
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stand Back, I'm Going To Review Science 16 Feb. 2012
By Greg Polansky - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Coming from a non-science background, but still being interested in the sciences, I wanted something that would be readable but not dumbed down. This book is it. If you click within the Amazon page, you will see the synopses for each essay. As with any edited collection, there are highs and lows. I'll focus on my highs. Kevin Hand's exploration of the waters of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn is a highlight of the collection. It's greatly informative about the possibilities for life on those moons. Similarly, Kleinberg's essay about data sets and what they mean for us as a species left me thinking about the ramifications for a few hours afterwards. Other standouts, for me, is Eisenberg's essay on Rejection, Cushman's essay on Luck and the Law, and the final essay by Chiao about human diversity. Chiao's essay is actually pretty damn wonderful with its final paragraphs that focus on cultural neuroscience.

Though I don't have a science background, I do read about certain fields, namely genetics, on a regular basis. I think that's what makes this collection good. You can find readable essays in a wide variety of fields. You can do as I did and read them all (in one day actually since it is roughly 250 pages on the Kindle) or you can pick and choose based on your interests. But I recommend reading them all.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great 'first annual' debut 3 Oct. 2011
By robert johnston - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a technologist in a niche, keeping up with the leading edge across many disciplines is impossible but I do try. Out of summary curiosity I bought this entry to the technology survey venue. Future Science hopes to continue as an annual tradition. I hope the editor is successful.

I read dozens of niche and near-niche research outputs per year. The task of picking the cream of the crop from the universe of dissertations and research is a formidable task. Here, you get an excellent set of a few pages more than the abstract and conclusion. The subject matter expert must work to frame their research in approachable, understandable and easily extrapolated `into the future' terms. Every entry succeeds in that mission.

The collection 5-star satisfied my appetite.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cutting Edge Research 13 Feb. 2012
By Lynn - Published on
Max Brockman in Future Science provides essays by a number of cutting edge researchers about their work. Some of the essays will thrill, some will raise questions, some will disturb and others will spur the reader to read even further. The essays are readily available to the general reader and actually read as though they were edited by a single person to the reader's benefit. In this volume Kevin Hand writes about ocean exploration, Felix Warneken the origin's of human altruism, William McEwan DNA, and Jon Kleinberg reveals what data sets can teach us about society and ourselves. Others follow a similar path and there is something for every taste.
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