One of our greatest scientific minds reflects on the role of science in the twenty-first century.
In this riveting, eye-opening new book, preeminent astrophysicist Martin Rees charts out the future of science, offering a compelling vision of how scientists and laypeople can work together to address the most urgent issues of our era—including climate change and energy concerns, population growth, and epidemiological threats.
Scientific research is crucial to a growing number of policy decisions, but in our public discussions, ideology and indignation all too often threaten to drown out research and evidence. To shape debates over health care, energy policy, space travel, and other vital issues, ordinary citizens must engage directly with research rather than relying on pundits’ and politicians’ interpretations. Otherwise, fringe opinions that have been discredited in the scientific community can take hold in the public imagination. At the same time, scientists must understand their roles as communicators and ambassadors as well as researchers.
Rees not only diagnoses this central problem but also explains how scientists and the general public can deploy a global, long-term perspective to address the new challenges we face. In the process, he reveals critical shortcomings in our current system—for example, the tendency to be overly anxious about minor hazards while underrating the risk of potential catastrophes. Offering a strikingly clear portrait of the future of science, Rees tackles such diverse topics as the human brain, the possibility that humans will colonize other planets, and the existence of extraterrestrial life in order to distinguish between what scientists can hope to discover and what will always lie beyond our grasp.
A fresh perspective on science’s significance and potential, From Here to Infinity will inspire and enlighten.