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Let’s Play Predict the Future: Where Is Science Going Over the Next 30 Years?

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As part of DISCOVER's 30th anniversary celebration, the magazine invited 11 eminent scientists to look forward and share their predictions and hopes for the next three decades. But we also want to turn this over to Science Not Fiction's readers: How do you think science will improve the world by 2040? Below are short excerpts of the guest scientists' responses, with links to the full versions: Ken Caldeira: "...If you could directly produce chemical fuel from sunlight and do it affordably, that could really be a game changer..." Jack Horner: "...If we want to see an animal like a velociraptor, we will be able to create one by genetic engineering. It might even be possible to make something that looks like a T. rex...” Oliver Sacks: "...We thought that every part of the brain was predetermined genetically, and that was that. Now we know that enormous changes of function are possible...” Sylvia Earle: "...We’ve explored only about 5 percent of the ocean. For us to have better maps of the moon, Mars, and Jupiter than of our own ocean floor is baffling...” Rodney Brooks: "...The arguments we have about drugs and sports are minuscule compared with what’s coming, such as ‘What is the definition of human?’ We have the Paralympics now, but we’ll have the Augmented Olympics in the future..." Debra Fischer: "...Every year since 1995, we have discovered more extrasolar planets than the year before. A parallel thing could happen with extraterrestrial life: After we find one example, we’ll hone our strategies to be smarter and more efficient..." Tachi Yamada: "...I don’t believe just because you’re poor, you shouldn’t have access to lifesaving technology..." Neil Turok: "...The science has reached the point where questions that used to be just philosophy could be observationally testable in 10 or 20 years...” Ian Wilmut: "...We should be able to control degenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and heart disease..." Sherry Turkle: "...Sometimes a citizenry should not ‘be good.’ You have to leave room for real dissent...” Brian Greene: "...We may establish that there is not a unique universe—that ours is just one of many in a grand multiverse. That would be one of the most profound revolutions in thinking we have ever sustained...”

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