edge org

Logo from Edge.org

Edge.org is a website founded with the sole purpose of joining the greatest minds of this world together to make the extraordinary happen. To do this, a question is asked every year, about the world as we know it and how it can change, and everyone is free to answer it. Over 15 years of opinions, thoughts and ideas are stored in this site, the online version of the ‘Reality Club’, the famous group of intellectuals that came together to discuss the questions they couldn’t answer. Currently, and due to its popularity, many well-known scientists answer it every year to motivate everyone to think about the world around them.

This year’s question is:

 What scientific idea is ready for retirement?

 Many famous scientists have contributed to this project with their ideas, some examples being:

Richard Dawkins, biologist, professor at Oxford and author; who believes that essentialism is obsolete. This is a term used to describe the way humans think of everything belonging to a separate fraction, with nothing being able to exist in between. Like what happens when people argue about abortions, saying that at one point it isn’t human yet, but at another it is. It is supposed to be gradual, where it is a quarter human, then 3 quarters… where the distinguishable point in which an embryo becomes human can’t be discerned completely

Irene Pepperberg, author, researcher and lecturer at Harvard University; believes human superiority is not true. Although it is true that humans are special, other animals are too. Humans can’t detect very slight changes of temperature like some snakes, we can’t see ultraviolet light like bees, and we can’t migrate for hundreds of kilometers by using an ‘internal GPS’.

Azra Raza, professor in Medicine in Columbia University, New York; says that cancer research in mice is not useful. Cancer develops differently in mice than in humans, and adding human cancer cells to rats would involve injecting drugs to suppress an immunological response, which would affect the results. Altogether, results from such experiments don’t provide an accurate depiction of a drug’s usefulness.

To answer the question, in my opinion, the term reality is no longer practical. The definition of reality is “the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them”.

However, nowadays, with all these theories about alternate universes, or quantum physics, I feel like we no longer know what is real, what really happens, but rather what we think happens or what data use for our calculations.

The theory of multiverses and infinity, where every possible outcome to a situation happens but in another universe, is mindboggling, because even though to us there is only one reality, if this theory is correct, there is another one of us whose reality is different. So who is right? Are we both right? But how do we know the answer?

Another example of this situation is virtual reality, having a world online. You can play a game on the internet, build a house in it, etc. but once you go offline, is that house really there? It’s not physical, at least in the traditional way, but more like an idea stored in chips and computers.

And every time a new theory is thought of, when calculations go wrong or results given don’t agree with predictions, theoretical values can used, so we are not actually describing reality, but our reality where we idealize every quantity to get an understandable result.

With these manipulations of reality, we can’t really know what actually happens and what we hope/believe happens, so reality is no longer real.

If you want to share your opinion, go to www.edge.org and answer it yourself!


The Scientific Event of the Year: Debate: Darwin vs. God: Part 2

Dawkins and Williams after the debate

Dawkins and Williams after the debate

Yesterday, people from all around the world were able to watch one of the most important events of the year at Oxford University or by the Internet.

At Sheldonian Theatre, zoologist Richard Dawkins debated about the origin of human nature and the universe with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. The debate, considered as a battle between science and religion, was calm and polite, but with some sense of humour of the debaters.

Each debater respected and admired each other’s arguments, although after they had to argue it.

Anthony Kenny

The debate started with the philosopher Anthony Kenny asking for no applauses, and continued with the funny comment ‘I come representing ignorance’.

He actively collaborated in the debate, sometimes looking as a third debater. He gave the debate a relaxed but formal atmosphere, and asked new discussions to both debators.

Rowan Williams

One of the head of the Anglican Church’s arguments debated about conscience, and of the need of God to explain it. He also had to admit that the Bible didn’t explain scientifically the creation of the Universe, but he argued that the Bible’s authors just wrote what God told them to.

Richard Dawkins

The biologist occupied the major part of the debate, defending Darwin’s ideas about evolutionism and stating that humans are a product of only evolution, with no intervention by God.

He was sarcastic about the existence of God, but had to admit he can’t disprove the existence of God, and once, he even had to admit he did not disbelief in God totally, but thought the chances of it existing were very, very low.

If you weren’t able to see the debate, you can watch it again at http://fsmevents.com/sophiaeuropa/