“Many Mysteries Remain”

The excellent Ross Anderson, formerly Deputy Editor at Aeon, is now a Senior Editor at the Atlantic, in charge of the new stand-alone Science section. Definitely worth bookmarking. From his introductory letter:

We live in an age that may come to be regarded as a second enlightenment, a time when science supplies us with discovery after discovery, each more wondrous than the last. Scientists have measured the temperature of the Big Bang’s afterglow out to ten decimal places. They have mapped a decent chunk of the observable universe, in detail so granular, it astonishes. They are predicting events that will take place one trillion years from now.

Scientists are slinging drones out to Pluto, to image its icy peaks. They are bringing distant earths into focus. They are beginning to understand how this Earth’s physical, biological, ecological, technological, and cultural systems interact, across vast time scales, and with important consequences for our future. They are sequencing and reshuffling genomes. They are starting to get a grip on the brain, the most complicated phenomenon in the known universe.

And yet, many mysteries remain. What does it mean that human beings emerged only a geological moment ago, lone survivors among a larger family of hominins? Charles Darwin may have explained the origin of species, but what about the origin of life? Or the nature of quantum reality, which appears to be indeterminate, in some deep sense? What does that mean? And how has this tiny, teeming world given rise to consciousness, a phenomenon that seems to belong to its own metaphysical category? Will we ever be able to reverse engineer consciousness? Or in this, as with so many other questions, are we now reaching the limits of science? How are we making sense of all these questions, each one of us, in our distinctive human cultures?•