The Third Culture: Scientists on the Edge

John Brockman, Author
John Brockman, Author Simon & Schuster $27 (413p) ISBN 978-0-684-80359-3
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-684-82344-7
Hardcover - 978-0-02-516391-1
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This set of conversational essays, distilled from interviews with 23 leading scientists, presents an engaging, unparalleled road map to the frontiers of research and speculation in evolutionary biology, genetics, artificial intelligence, psychology and physics. Biologist Stephen Jay Gould argues provocatively that evolution harbors no inevitable drive toward increasing complexity or progress. Astrophysicist Martin Rees ponders the possibility of multiple universes as well as ways to locate ``dark matter,'' the 90% of the universe that exerts gravitational force yet is invisible and unaccounted for. Psychologist Steven Pinker defines language as an instinctual, specialized skill that develops in the child spontaneously. Philosopher Daniel Dennett views consciousness as a ``virtual machine,'' an abstract thinking center, while, at the opposite pole, biologist Francisco Varela melds Buddhist philosophy and neuroscience in his theory of the mind as an ``emergent self'' shaped by interactions with its environment. Contributors include biologists Richard Dawkins and Lynn Margulis, physicists Roger Penrose and Murray Gell-Mann, cosmologists Paul Davies and Alan Guth. New York literary agent Brockman is editor of About Bateson and Doing Science. Newbridge's Library of Science, Astronomy Book Club and Natural Science Book Club and Reader's Subscription special selections. (May)
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