Nineteen reasons why marriages succeed

Nineteen reasons why marriages succeed

[Neunzehn Gründe, warum Ehen glücken]
Manuela Lenzen [1.21.16]

From Gene-knives and autistic neurons: The Scholars Association "Edge Foundation" asked well-known researchers, what is revolutionizing the sciences.The result is a fascinating kaleidoscope of new knowledge and methods.

[click for German original]

The big bang may not have been such a huge thud, as we imagine. Drones revolutionize not only the war, but also the research on wild animals. Two-thirds of all cancers are due to random mutations. And three principles are sufficient to define rationality. All answers to the question placed before the scientists of the "Third Culture" of American literary agent John Brockman: "What is the most interesting scientific news? And what makes them so important?"

For almost twenty years Brockman puts on his online forum regularly such a question: "What do you think is right, even if you can not prove it?" (2005), "What do you ask yourself?" (1998), "What is the scientific idea is ready for retirement?" (2014). For "Third Culture" is one of Brockman researchers from natural sciences and humanities, discuss their findings in a larger, multi-disciplinary and social context.

In his this year's question Brockman got 198 very different answers. They range from knowledge about the importance of microbes in the digestive tract of new, resource-saving battery technologies and 3D printers in the medical technology to intelligently networked "green cities". The crisis of psychology, triggered by too many non-reproducible results, just missing a little like a study for vaccination against Ebola and one of the testing, "autistic neurons" to grow in the petri dish.

Manipulation of the species

Despite this bewildering variety stand out in the collection some not entirely surprising focus from where it currently seething particularly strong in the research: Once the Big Data and machine learning techniques Deep Learning secondly genetics, especially the CRISPR / Cas9 technology for cutting and recombining the human genome. "The possibilities of CRISPR / Cas9 are beyond our imagination, but some have already become reality," writes Randolph Nesse, director of the Center for Evolutionary Medicine and Arizona State University.

His favorite is a 2016 laboratory study, according to which a gene that makes them resistant to malaria, rapidly spreads in a population of mosquitoes. If the gene thus eliminate malaria, if you could free the population? Other genetic manipulation could exterminate entire species targeted, says Nesse and connects to the question of what would happen, for example, with an ecosystem without mosquitoes.

The Edinburgh philosopher Andy Clark is passionate about a 2015 published work on a "Inceptionism" called deep-learning method for automatic image recognition. Lets you eject the algorithm instead of the final interim results that were even trimmed to it, the Recognized overemphasize arise strange dream worlds: fantastic creatures inhabit a cloudy sky, pagodas grow appear as if by magic on the green meadows in front of an empty horizon, executors and sheep.The problem with the Deep-learning process is that we do not understand what the algorithm in learning actually drives, so Clark. In "Inceptionism" he provides a method to visualize precisely this layer by layer.

Insight into new realities

Others have the big picture. The most important news is that in society more and more set the realization that biological processes are thinking and feeling, so the psychologist Thalia Wheatley. Given the recognition that sexual orientation is not a matter of individual choice and free will belong just a label that we stuck to a biological process that we would not have understood a long time. Jonathan Haidt, a psychologist at New York University School of Business, a study selected, which indicates that American chefs would rather adjust a new employee to a different race, religion, or of the opposite sex as a trailer of another party. Well, that racism and sexism subside, the researchers but worrying for the future of democracy.

For the Mainzer philosopher Thomas Metzinger the main novelty is the proliferation of virtual reality in the mass market. In addition to various desirable and questionable applications from medicine to warfare the average consumer would recognize by playing with the new virtual reality goggles, what it had always been with his conscious experience at: you strip the steady production of possible worlds and possible Models of the ego.

Again and again raise researchers take new knowledge and insights into errors on the podium of the most important news. Thus, the cognitive scientist Gary Klein cites a study that appeared in the 2015 journal "Science". Since the work of neurophysiologist David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel was taken for granted that children who were born blind because of a lens clouding, would benefit only until the eighth year of an operation - to a group of Indian specialists and teens successfully operated. Even in the world of Big Data, we should expect that data may be wrong, concludes Klein.

Skeptical voices are not lacking. The question of a most interesting piece of news is, given the complexity of the world in any case does not make sense, criticized the geologist Jared Diamond, citing a recent study, enumerate nineteen independent factors for the success of a marriage in the marriage counselor. In fact, probably afford to than what is found on in the highly specialized academic landscape hardly more: an impressive kaleidoscope of questions and answers, problems and solutions is not exhaustive. [Continue reading on FAZ]

Read highlighted contributions from: Randolph NesseAndy ClarkThalia WheatleyThomas MetzingerGary KleinJared Diamond.