Thursday, July 07, 2005

25 Big Questions in Science


Part of the cover of the 125th anniversary issue of the Science magazine.

The Science magazine published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science marked the 125th anniversary on July 1, 2005. The issue to celebrate this occasion includes the special section entitled "What don't we know?" [1]. The section lists and explains 25 big questions facing science over the next quarter-century and 100 smaller ones (the total number of questions equals the number related to the anniversary). For those who are interested in the future of science, I cite the list of the big questions here.
  1. What Is the Universe Made Of?
  2. What is the Biological Basis of Consciousness?
  3. Why Do Humans Have So Few Genes?
  4. To What Extent Are Genetic Variation and Personal Health Linked?
  5. Can the Laws of Physics Be Unified?
  6. How Much Can Human Life Span Be Extended?
  7. What Controls Organ Regeneration?
  8. How Can a Skin Cell Become a Nerve Cell?
  9. How Does a Single Somatic Cell Become a Whole Plant?
  10. How Does Earth's Interior Work?
  11. Are We Alone in the Universe?
  12. How and Where Did Life on Earth Arise?
  13. What Determines Species Diversity?
  14. What Genetic Changes Made Us Uniquely Human?
  15. How Are Memories Stored and Retrieved?
  16. How Did Cooperative Behavior Evolve?
  17. How Will Big Pictures Emerge from a Sea of Biological Data?
  18. How Far Can We Push Chemical Self-Assembly?
  19. What Are the Limits of Conventional Computing?
  20. Can We Selectively Shut Off Immune Responses?
  21. Do Deeper Principles Underlie Quantum Uncertainty and Nonlocality?
  22. Is an Effective HIV Vaccine Feasible?
  23. How Hot Will the Greenhouse World Be?
  24. What Can Replace Cheap Oil -- and When?
  25. Will Malthus Continue to Be Wrong?
Which questions are you most interested in? I am interested in questions 1, 5 and 21 as a physicist; in 2 and 6 as a human being; and in 10, 11, 23 and 25 as a being living on the earth. I would also like to introduce to you the 100 smaller questions in subsequent blogs, if possible.
  1. "What don't we know?" Science Vol. 309, p. 75 (2005).

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