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The 2017 Edge Annual Question: Which Scientific Term or Concept Ought To Be More Widely Known?

1 Jan 2017, 07:35 UTC
The 2017 Edge Annual Question: Which Scientific Term or Concept Ought To Be More Widely Known?
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My first thought when I heard the 2017 Edge Annual Question was “Wasn’t that last year's question?” It wasn’t. But it’s almost identical to the 2011 question, “What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit.” That’s ok, I guess, the internet has an estimated memory of 2 days, so after 5 years it’s reasonable to assume nobody will remember their improved toolkit.After that first thought, the reply that came to my mind was “Effective Field Theory,” immediately followed by “But Sean Carroll will cover that.” He didn’t, he went instead for “Bayes's Theorem.” Instead, Lisa Randall went for “Effective Theory.”I then considered, in that order, “Free Will,” “Emergence," and “Determinism,” only to discard them again because each of these would have required me to first explain effective field theory. You find “Emergence” explained by Garrett Lisi, and determinism and free will (or its absence, respectively), is taken on by Jerry A. Coyne, whom I don’t know, but I entirely agree with his essay. My argument would have been almost identical, you can read my blogpost about free will here.Next I reasoned that this question calls for a broader answer, so I thought of “uncertainty” and then science itself, but decided ...

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