I didn't know what exactly to expect when I made this purchase, but I am glad I did anyway. Adam Bly, founder and editor-in-chief of Seed Magazine, which I had never heard of, has put together a really fantastic book. The only thing I knew going in was that there were some really big-name intellectuals in this book; I had to know what they said. So, here is a breakdown of each chapter and subject:
1) Evolutionary Philosophy: Edward O. Wilson (Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge) and Daniel Dennett (Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon). 2) The Problems of Consciousness: Rebecca Goldstein (The Mind-Body Problem (Contemporary American Fiction)) and Steven Pinker (The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature). 3) Time: Alan Lightman and Richard Colton. 4) On Design: Drew Endy and Stefan Sagmeister. 5) Objectivity and the Image: Joan Fontcuberta and Ariel Ruiz i Altaba. 6) Climate Politcs: Laurie David and Stephen Schneider. 7) War and Deceit: Noam Chomsky (The Chomsky Reader) and Robert Trivers (Natural Selection and Social Theory: Selected Papers of Robert Trivers (Evolution and Cognition Series)). 8) On Dreams: Michel Gondry and Robert Stickgold. 9) The Truth of Fiction: Janna Levin and Jonathan Lethem. 10) On Music: Daniel Levitin and David Byrne. 11) On Shape: Lisa Randall and Chuck Hoberman. 12) On Artifacts: Michael Shanks and Lynn Hershman Leeson. 13) Who Makes Science?: Lawrence Krauss and Natalie Jeremijenko. 14) What is Human?: Will Self and Spencer Wells. 15) Fractal Architecture: Benoit Mandelbrot and Paola Antonelli. 16) Morality: Marc Hauser and Errol Morris. 17) Free Will: Tom Wolfe (The Bonfire of the Vanities) and Michael Gazzaniga (Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique). 18) Evolution, Creativity, and Future Life: Jill Tarter and Will Wright. 19) Complex Networks, Feedback Loops, and the Cities of the Future: Carlo Ratti and Steven Strogatz. 20) Social Networks: Albert-Laszlo Barabasi (Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means) and James Fowler (Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives). 21) The Physics of Infinity: Paul Steinhardt and Peter Galison. 22) Smarter Infrastructure: Thomas E. Lovejoy and Mitchell Joachim.
The greatest strength of this book is the diversity of subject matter; I was never once bored. Also, I really enjoyed the topics discussed, the brief yet authentic nature of each "conversation," and the black-and-white photograph of each contributor. This is a truly first-rate book; I highly recommend it.
I wanted to quickly add a brief quote from Adam Bly, which I deeply identified with: "For the benefit of humanity, we need most of the seven billion people on this planet to embrace science as the way forward - we need them to use vaccines, fund stem cell labs, and support carbon taxes, not march against them. The trouble with (commonly practiced organized) religion is not God. It is that it offers truth without a way of questioning it. Worse, it punishes you for questioning it. We simply cannot move forward in these times with this dogma."