John Brockman has done it again. Well, Edge.org has done it again, with Brockman at the helm. For those unfamiliar, Edge.org, which has been called the smartest website on the internet, undertakes to bring the brilliance of our era, in science, literature, philosophy and art, under a single umbrella for the purposes of providing insight into some of the issues we face as a people.
Specifically, Brockman publishes a book, on a semi-annual basis, which is essentially a compilation of many short essays by the finest minds on the front lines of progress in our culture, answering a single question. This year’s question (2012): What is your favourite deep, elegant or beautiful explanation?
The book, titled This Explains Everything, is a wonderful tour through the foundational principles of many scientific and philosophic disciplines. Some of the names involved are Freeman Dyson, V.S. Ramachandran, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Alan Alda, and Michael Shermer, among many more. The answers given run the gamut between the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection to the unification of electricity and magnetism, and from the concept of apparent motion (in motion pictures) to Metabolic Syndrome (cell toxicity).
It is a wonderful collection of insights by the leading minds in every field, and provides the perfect starting point for further study of concepts and theories you may not even have known existed. It can be tedious at times, as some of the respondents aren’t exactly natural science writers, and some of the answers are more technical than others. Even if you only skimmed through, giving attention to only those answers that interest you, you will learn something, I guarantee it.
Another excellent effort by Edge.org and John Brockman.