What Remains to Be Discovered?

By John Maddox


The origin of life. The beginning and end of the universe. The workings of the brain.

These are the big questions, the ones scientists and nonscientists alike love to ponder and that give deeper meaning to our quest for knowledge. John Maddox, former longtime editor of Nature, has endevored to outline our progress, and, more importantly, our goals in these and other fields of study.

What Remains to Be Discovered details the past, present, and possible future of science in three sections: “Matter,” “Life,” and “Our World.” The author’s broad, multidisciplinary grasp of science is apparent as he guides us effortlessly through the work of scientists from ancient times to the present. Having first shown us an up-to-date map of scientific knowledge, he then emphasises the large blank spaces still remaining and suggests where explorers might best continue their efforts.

From natural selection to the luminiferous ether, each question answered has provoked many, often more difficult, challenges for a new generation of researchers. Maddox hints at what our future textbooks will say, but is also careful to remind us that the history of science is full of surprises. We’ll do well to remember that as we enter the 21st century.

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