Edge Question 2009: “What game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live to see?”

This year’s Edge.org annual question is “WHAT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING? – What game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live to see?”

The worlds most brilliant minds are involved with Edge.org.

Just look at this selection of names, selected becuase I know them all to be masters in their fields, from the long list of those who contributed:

John D. Barrow,
Susan Blackmore,
M. Csikszentmihalyi (Flow), 
Richard Dawkins, 
Daniel C. Dennett, 
Freeman Dyson (and his son George Dyson)
Brian Eno,
Daniel Everett, 
Howard Gardner
Daniel Goleman
Jonathan Haidt
Sam Harris
Nicholas Humphrey
Eric Kandel
Stuart Kauffman
Kevin Kelly
Ian McEwan
Thomas Metzinger
Dean Ornish, M.D.
Steven Pinker
Howard Rheingold
Douglas Rushkoff
Robert Sapolsky
Martin Seligman
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
J. Craig Venter

As you can see there is a slight neuroscience, skeptic, evolutionary psychology, philosophy bias in this list but that is because those are my areas of interest.  Edge.org brings together the best minds in several fields. It is one of the densest concentrations of true brilliance on the internet.

The World Question Center 2009

Gloomy “The Long Emergency” author on 2009

James Howard Kunstler has posted a brilliant if gloomy set of predictions and analyses for 2009 and beyond. Kunstler is biting, brilliant and terrifying.

He asses the current state of affairs, the year ahead, the global energy situation, the “spectre” of inflation, geopolitical risks and even has a dig at  “crybabies” Hamas.

Here is the conclusion, but make sure you treat yourselves to the full article:

The big theme for 2009 economically will be contraction. The end of the cheap energy era will announce itself as the end of conventional “growth” and the shrinking back of activity, wealth, and populations. Contraction will come as a great shock to a world of conventionally programmed economists. They will toil and sweat to account for it, and they will probably be wrong. Unfortunately, this contraction will do its work in unpleasant ways, driving down standards of living, shearing away hopes and expectations for a particular life of comfort, and introducing disorder to so many of the systems we have depended on for so long. People will starve, lose their homes, lose incomes and status, and lose the security of living in peaceful societies. It will become clear that the Long Emergency is underway.

My hope for the year, at least for my own society, is that we will transition away from being a nation of complacent, distracted, over-fed clowns, to become a purposeful and responsible people willing to put their shoulders to the wheel to get some things done. My motto for the new year: “no more crybabies!”

Forecast for 2009 by Jim Kunstler

The psychology of Nostalgia

Thanks to Abelard for the heads up on this piece about Nostalgia. It turns out that far from being a disease afflicting sentimental fools, it may well be healthy:

Research suggests that nostalgia can promote psychological health. Inducing nostalgia in a group of study volunteers resulted in overall positive feelings in this group, including higher self-esteem and an increase in the feeling of being loved and protected by others. Recent work has also shown that nostalgia counteracts effects of loneliness, by increasing perceptions of social support. In addition, that same study found that loneliness can trigger nostalgia.

Another important function of nostalgia may be in providing a link between our past and present selves – that is, nostalgia may provide us with a positive view of the past and this could help to give us a greater sense of continuity and meaning to our lives. The researchers surmise that nostalgia may also acquire greater significance in old age – elderly adults are especially vulnerable to social isolation and nostalgia may help them overcome feelings of loneliness.

The authors note that ‘nostalgia is now emerging as a fundamental human strength.’ They conclude that ‘nostalgia is uniquely positioned to offer integrative insights across such areas of psychology as memory, emotion, the self and relationships. Nostalgia has a long past and an exciting future.’

Science Centric | News | More than just being a sentimental fool: The psychology of nostalgia