October 20, 1998
What wonders of science will the 21st century bring? Is all we know about gravity, DNA, and artificial intelligence only a hint of what we have not even begun to understand? Now John Maddox picks up the challenge of describing precisely what remains to be discovered. Building on 23 years’ experience at the helm of the world’s preeminent science magazine, Nature, Maddox identifies new areas of discovery in physics, biology, health, intelligence, and global catastrophe. Moreover, he reveals that the rate of scientific discovery is accelerating at a dizzying pace. Consider:
- In 1900 no one knew E=MC2, but by 1950 a bomb built from that equation changed the world forever. In 1998 Maddox shows that we are on the verge of going beyond Einstein – and if we do, the consequences by 2050 will be even more awesome than those of Einstein’s little equation.
- In 1990 we had no biological explanation of how inheritance worked, but by 1957 Crick and Watson had defined the double helix showing how evolution is carried on through genes. In 1998 Maddox demonstrates that we are on the verge of a whole new age of genetic manipulation: we are going to be building sheep and people and maybe even dinosaurs.
- In 1900 we were incapable of avoiding global threats, but we have since learned to quell epidemics, track meteors, and respect the vital importance of the ozone layer. In 1998 Maddox identifies the greatest calamities facing humankind: global warming, human genetic instability, and collision with an object from outer space – and then shows how science can save us from them.
As the editor of Nature, Maddox talked to scientists all over the world every day about their private doubts, hopes, and dreams. Here in this definitive book you will find the questions that the best scientists around the world are asking themselves today. How old is the universe? How did life begin, and did this happen only once? Why do cells divide? What is gravity made of? Is there a looming crisis in the integrity of our gene pool?
Maddox’s reputation as a stubbornly independent thinker will only be enhanced with this audacious book. Among numerous controversial ideas, he proposes that we must learn how life started and how it works so we can manipulate it in order to survive, that mapping the genomes of isolated tribal peoples is the key to understanding human evolution, and the charting our galaxy will revolutionize subatomic physics and cosmology.
As Maddox shows, the next century will continue the modern era’s accelerating trend toward ever more dramatic discoveries in science. They will come from the analysis of scientific data and technology we have now, and not from the often to fertile imaginations of theoreticians. Far from a compendium of wishful thinking, What Remains To Be Discovered is a spirited celebration of the quickening river of discovery that has brought us to the modern world and that will surely transport us to the world of the future.
Sir John Maddox, Editor Emeritus of Nature, was knighted for services to science in 1994 and made a Fellow of the American Academy of Sciences in 1996. He lives in London and Wales.