test of a good scenario is not whether it portrays the future accurately but whether it provides a mechanism for learning and adapting.

THE NEXT SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION

Context

In the past few years we have discovered that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate and is probably flat rather than curved. We have found evidence of neutrinos with mass. We have completed the first draft of the human genome and started building the fastest computer to solve even more complex problems in biology. In physics, profound changes in our understanding are unfolding at the very large scale of the universe and at the very small scale inside subatomic particles. One of the most challenging problems in physics today is the apparent incompatibility between general relativity, which describes the nature of the large-scale universe very well, and quantum mechanics, which is useful at the very small scale. Like physics, chemistry is benefiting from new computational methods and the ability to manipulate matter at the very small scale. We can simulate chemical reactions and structures that enable us to try many more alternatives in virtual labs than we could ever do in the real world. Research proceeds faster and better. We have new tools to see and manipulate individual molecules. In biology the revolutionary dynamics are similar, with the added dimension of the decoding of the human genome. Advances over the past few decades in genetics and molecular biology have enormously expanded our understanding and control of biological systems. Once biology was mainly an empirical science. We could only observe what is. Unlike physics, we could not reliably predict and control the behavior of systems. Increasingly biology is becoming a quantitative science like physics, with higher levels of ability to predict and control.

We imagine that the new ideas and discoveries in physics, biology, chemistry, and mathematics are leading to a revolutionary “moment” where we will reconceptualize and reperceive reality. We have been here before. One of the consequences of the revolution in physics at the beginning of the 20th century was that reality got weird. In the 19th century, physics made the world more comprehensible. It was assumed that the real world was like a vast clock mechanism. If we identified all its pieces and figured out how they worked, we would understand the



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