Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Reinventing the Future
Good books bridge profound realities to lay minds. Great books do so in an interesting way. Reinventing the Future, by Thomas A. Bass, is one of those books that take the readers to cruise through the maze of scientific research while keeping their giddiness at bay.
Published first in 1994 by Addison-Wesley Company, Reinventing the Future is an academic read in a fairly simple form of interviews with eleven leading scientists of our time. These include: Sarah Hrdy, Luc Montagnier, James Black, Thomas Adeoye Lambo, Etienne-Emile Baulieu, Richard Dawkins, Farouk El-Baz, Bert Sakmann, Jonathan Mann, Norman Packard, and Mary-Claire King. Apart from being Nobel laureates, Bass finds their commonality in that they all see themselves as ‘outsiders and rebels’. The fact that each of these scientist’s work has invoked some controversy, academic or political, is a hook in reading this collection.
The topics addressed are varied, ranging from Dawkins’ socio-biological behavior of humans to Baulieu’s ‘abortion pill’-RU 486, and Packard’s ‘Chaos Cabal’ that tracks the degree of disorder and unpredictability in the universe.
Thomas A. Bass keeps a rather informal mode of questioning so that the personal inclinations behind academic achievements are revealed. In effect, these interviews are inspiring as much as they are informative. Certainly, it is challenging in the content and can prove somewhat disturbing in effect to the orthodox and the conventionalist. But it does open numerous pathways to question and reconsider our concepts of things we tend to take for granted.
Despite all its interesting style and informal easiness of conversation, Reinventing the Future is an academic read. It is a book for the serious mind, active at thinking and ready to question. It is a book to start entering with into the channels of scientific concepts and their implications. Some of the many questions, the book touches on, include:
What is the evolutionary side of sex and mating in primates? What story lies behind the discovery of HIV virus? Is the universe really so well ordered as we have believed it to be? How can the ancient air rapped in the pyramids of Egypt be used to correlate ancient and modern environments? Who controls life, man or gene? Are science and superstition compatible in some societies?
Reinventing the Future is for all those who are interested in mainstream science of our age and its relation to life. For college students and upwards, it is just what the doctor ordered.