Edge Question 02012

At the beginning of each year, John Brockman’s Edge poses a question to a long list (192 this year!) of thinkers and authors. The ensuing onslaught of insight is then published for us all to enjoy. This year he asks:

What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation?

Scientists’ greatest pleasure comes from theories that derive the solution to some deep puzzle from a small set of simple principles in a surprising way. These explanations are called “beautiful” or “elegant”. Historical examples are Kepler’s explanation of complex planetary motions as simple ellipses, Bohr’s explanation of the periodic table of the elements in terms of electron shells, and Watson and Crick’s double helix. Einstein famously said that he did not need experimental confirmation of his general theory of relativity because it “was so beautiful it had to be true.”

The full list is bound to include a few folks you’d like to hear from. Below is the subset of respondents that have crossed through the Long Now orbit:

Board Members:

SALT Speakers:

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

More from Long-term Thinking

What is the long now?

The Long Now Foundation is a nonprofit established in 01996 to foster long-term thinking. Our work encourages imagination at the timescale of civilization — the next and last 10,000 years — a timespan we call the long now.

Learn more

Join our newsletter for the latest in long-term thinking

Long Now's website is changing...