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What's Next: Dispatches on the Future of Science | [Max Brockman]

What's Next: Dispatches on the Future of Science

This wide-ranging collection of never-before-published essays offers the very latest insights into the daunting scientific questions of our time. Its contributors - some of the most brilliant young scientists working today - provide not only an introduction to their cutting-edge research, but discuss the social, ethical, and philosophical ramifications of their work.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Narrators Kirsten Potter and Erik Davies deliver a lively, vibrant reading in this rich, varied, and consistently engaging volume. What's Next: Dispatches On the Future of Science is a collection of essays by a few of the world's most brilliant young scientists on the issues and questions that matter most to them — and to the coming generation. Editor Max Brockman asked these scientists to discuss their work for the general public, and the 18 essays that result are an engrossing peek into some of the most compelling — and consequential — scientific questions of our time. Each scientist takes us to the heart of their research, in fields ranging from neuroscience to theoretical physics to paleoanthropology. In an essay by Katerina Havarti, we learn about the paths to extinction of our own hominid ancestors, and consider the possibility of extinction in our own species. Sean Carroll takes us into the depths of space-time, where it seems we know ever less than was previously thought about the nature of the universe. David M. Eagleman zooms in to the human mind to puzzle out the mysteries in our perception of time. Despite the broad scope of topics, the essays are held together by their common interest in the most fundamental questions of humankind — questions about where we came from, who we are, and where we're going.

In their reading, both Davies and Potter demonstrate a firm grasp on their scientific subject matter, whether they are delving into mirror neurons and the morality of the human mind, as in an essay by Christian Keysers, or leading us on an exploration of the way language shapes our thinking with an essay by Lera Boroditsky. Davies' voice is smooth and controlled — even soothing — but never soporific, and his pacing and tone are sensitive to the complexity and nuance of his subject matter. Potter reads with a voice that is at once melodious and polished, and her experience and talent in fiction narration is evident in her ability to bring the authors' voices to life.

With its solid narration and keen insights on the big scientific questions of our time, What's Next is a captivating listen from beginning to end. —Emily Elert

Publisher's Summary

Will climate change force a massive human migration to the Northern Rim?

How does our sense of morality arise from the structure of the brain?

What does the latest research in language acquisition tells us about the role of culture in the way we think?

What does current neurological research tell us about the nature of time?

This wide-ranging collection of never-before-published essays offers the very latest insights into the daunting scientific questions of our time. Its contributors - some of the most brilliant young scientists working today - provide not only an introduction to their cutting-edge research, but discuss the social, ethical, and philosophical ramifications of their work.

In essays covering fields as diverse as astrophysics, paleoanthropology, climatology, and neuroscience, What's Next? is a lucid and informed guide to the new frontiers of science.

©2009 Max Brockman; (P)2009 Random House

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  •  
    Roy Beaumont, TX, United States 07-15-09
    Roy Beaumont, TX, United States 07-15-09 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Worth the Time"

    Max Brockman has done a great service by producing "What's Next?" The book is a series of brief "papers" on various science topics each making current research questions and science issues available to the general public. The first by Laurence Smith, "Will We Decamp for the Northern Rim?," places what we know about aspects of global warming into persepective. Katerina Harvati in "Extinction and the Evolution of Humankind" addresses this environmental issue and its implications. Another by Nick Bostrom, "How to Enhance Human Beings," considers brain enhancement. Steven Alexander brings us up to date with "Just What is Dark Entergy?"

    There are a number of papers related to the latest research in pscyhological science and neuroplasticity. Deena Weisberg speaks to the importance of imagination. Engleman approaches our perception of time and how it is changing.

    This is a wonderful compilation of fine science writing with something for everyone. The topics have public policy implications, raise philosophical and ethical concerns, and generally informs anyone taking the time to listen.

    Well written and well read.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frederic Simon HOD HASHARON, Israel 03-01-10
    Frederic Simon HOD HASHARON, Israel 03-01-10
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    "Truly inspiring!"

    I just loved this book!
    First, it's more about neuroscience than all of Science, but this field is discovering so many amazing things, that was the best choice.
    Knowing, not just guessing, how you're brain works and can trick you is mind boggling (pun intended).
    I truly learned something deep in here...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenton Highland Park, IL, United States 07-21-09
    Kenton Highland Park, IL, United States 07-21-09 Member Since 2007

    Middle-aged, married dad of two, living in Northern Burbs of Chicago. Hard Sci Fi addict, and lover of great storytelling. Almost all of my reading is now in audio format.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    26
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    "Fascinating"

    I love to hear it straight from the mouth of those doing the work, and this book delivers exactly that.

    I also found it interesting to see the effect the internet has had on this generation of scientists, especially in the psychology fields - they're all focused on distributed network theories. Very interesting.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenneth LEESBURG, VA, United States 11-15-10
    Kenneth LEESBURG, VA, United States 11-15-10 Member Since 2005

    Old & fat, but strong; American, Chinese, & Indian (sort of); Ph.D. in C.S.; strategy, economics & stability theory; trees & machining.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Selections that Seem Likely to be Important"

    The book contains about a dozen short essays by young (e.g., 30) very prominent scientists about their work.

    I read this kind of book about every 2 years; its part of trying to learn what I need to learn about. The trouble is that this type book tends to disappoint. Either they talk about things like jet packs, which were novel 40 years ago, but are hardly interesting today. Or they talk about things like living on Mars or Artificial Inelegance, which seem likely to remain beyond the state of the art for a while. In my opinion this book excels because of its ability to avoid both pitfalls. The choice of topics focuses on things like brain research that are pretty likely to increase in importance over the next 15 years, to a level of some prominence.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Randolph Lawrence, KS, USA 11-15-09
    Randolph Lawrence, KS, USA 11-15-09
    ratings
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    "Fascinating Research Summaries"

    I found this book fascinating and perfect for auto traveling. The short pieces highlight important new findings in a number of fields. I particularly enjoyed the sections on cognitive neuroscience. I will probably purchase the hard copy book also because it would be nice to have reference materials to continue my research on some of the areas noted in the recording.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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