New Civilization News: Questions and Answers    
 Questions and Answers
picture 15 Dec 2005 @ 03:32, by Jose Overalles

In Douglas Adam's book, HitchHiker's guide to the Galaxy, he relates the story of a race of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings who built a computer named Deep Thought to calculate the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. When the answer was revealed as 42, they were forced to build a more powerful computer to work out what the Ultimate Question actually was.

To get the right answers, you've got to ask the right questions. Through out history, some scientists have thought that all of the important questions had been answered.

"Sometimes I really regret that I did not live in those times when there was still so much that was new; to be sure enough much is yet unknown, but I do not think that it will be possible to discover anything easily nowadays that would lead us to revise our entire outlook as radically as was possible in the days when telescopes and microscopes were still new."
- Heinrich Hertz as a physics student 1875
"We are probably nearing the limit of all we can know about astronomy."
- Simon Newcomb, early American astronomer 1888
"The more important fundamental laws and facts of physical science have all been discovered, and these are now so firmly established that the possibility of their ever being supplanted in consequence of new discoveries is exceedingly remote.... Our future discoveries must be looked for in the sixth place of decimals."
- Albert. A. Michelson, speech at the dedication of Ryerson Physics Lab, U. of Chicago 1894
"There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement"
- Lord Kelvin
"So many centuries after the Creation, it is unlikely that anyone could find hitherto unknown lands of any value."
- Spanish Royal Commission, rejecting Christopher Columbus' proposal to sail west.

And so goes the zero sum, logic. We see the same logic today in some circles still. Malthusians abound. I've read the thoughts of a few around these parts recently. We've used up the earth! The end is near! Well, it's enough to make a person wave their hands in the air and resign. Just give up. I'd like to think that ideas, and solutions are infinite, and there will always be solutions. As long as we ask the right questions. And that's the nub of it eh? To ask the right questions?

"To celebrate the 125th anniversary of its founding by Thomas Edison, the journal Science asked more than 100 of the world's top scientists what they thought were the 25 most important scientific questions likely to be answered in the next 25 years.

The 25 big questions range from what is consciousness (the mysterious interplay of brain cells and neurotransmitters that conjures up awareness and the ability to ask questions) to what is the universe made of. "

Some of the questions include,

-Can the laws of physics be unified?

-How much can the human life span be extended?

-How does Earth's interior work?

-Are we alone in the universe?

You can read about some of the others here:
World's Scientists Predict What's Next in Coming 25 Years

Maybe we shouldn't just be asking the scientists though. I'd like to hear what our religious and spiritual gurus think are some big questions to be answered. That would be interesting. If they don't think they've got all the answers, that is.

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