Edge in the News

Smithsonian [9.30.97]

Brockman, a writer and literary agent himself, believes that the best scientific work ranks as high as any other endeavor in the great achievements of the human mind.

Science: Log On with the Lab Coats: Real scientist talk shop after hours
The Web Magazine [9.30.97]

Imagine being transported back in time to 19th-century London, to the Anchor Tavern. The Royal Society, a gathering of "science enthusiasts," is meeting there, over a sumptuous spread of cod's head, mutton, pigeon pie, plum pudding, butter, and cheese, washed down with bumpers of dark porter. You listen and perhaps even participate in discussions with some of the leading minds of the day, debating cutting-edge topics like Charles Darwin's theories of natural selection, Lord Kelvin's research into thermoelectricity, and Charles Lyell's views on uniformitarianism.

Today, "big science" generally takes place in cloistered sanctums that are off-limits to noninitiates. At a site called Edge, however, something of the spirit of the Royal Society (though, sadly, without the victuals and drink) is being revived.

There you can eavesdrop on a shifting cast of science luminaries, including evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, MIT mathematician Marvin Minsky, Nobel-winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann, philosopher Daniel Dennett, and psychologist Steven Pinker. The style is decidedly "after hours," as these brainy folk improvise new ideas like jazz musicians testing their chops, competing, collaborating, and sometimes pontificating within the site's freewheeling text-only forums. Every day, Edge offers an intellectual jam on topics like the origin of racism and the place of emotions in cognitive science.

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"Responses to this year's question are deliciously creative... the variety astonishes. Edge continues to launch intellectual skyrockets of stunning brilliance. Nobody in the world is doing what Edge is doing." 

Eurozine [12.31.69]

L'Espill calls for the "Third Culture"

Humanities and the third culture
Francisco Fernández Buey

The contents of Catalan journal L'Espill, a new Eurozine partner, fulfil philosopher Fernández Buey's wish for a crossover between the sciences and the humanities – the project known as the "Third Culture". "Humanists need scientific culture to overcome reactionary attitudes based exclusively on literary tradition," writes Buey. "Nor is there any doubt that scientists need a humanist training [...] in order to overcome the old scientism that still tends to consider human progress as a simple derivative of scientific-technical progress."

..."If we want to do anything serious in favour of a rational and reasoned resolution of some of the great controversial socio-cultural and ethical-political issues in societies such as ours, in which the techno-scientific complex has got an essential weight, there is no doubt that humanists will need scientific culture to overcome reactive attitudes which are based exclusively on literary traditions. And we should add, as some of the great contemporary scientists used to do, that there is neither any doubt that scientists and technologists will need humanistic training (that is to say, historical-philosophical, methodological, literary, historical-artistic, and so on) in order to overcome the old scientism and its positivist roots, which still tends to consider human progress as a simple derivation of the scientific-technical progress. This is the real reason by which, in the last decades, and from different perspectives, sensitive scientists and engaged humanists are giving so much importance to the investigation of what could be a third culture."


Berliner Zeiting — Magazin [12.31.69]

It was the humanities scholars who prepared the ground for the advance of science in the public mind. In the seventies, when public intellectuals were still following the stars of enlightenment, emancipation and social justice, Jean-Francois Lyotard came along and gave them a dire message: one cannot believe in these stories any longer. The philosopher named the new phase "postmodernism". But no society can live without a meaningful interpretation of their lives. This is where the third culture of engineers, physicists and evolution biologists comes in — as presented on edge.org — showing the public how our world and its interpretation is being changed by their work.