Reviews elsewhere on the web:
New York Times
Stephen M. Barr
Richard Seltzer

John Maddox

What Remains to be Discovered

The progress of science in the 20th was impressive, but there are still plenty of gaps which need to be resolved. In What Remains to Be Discovered: Mapping the Secrets of the Universe, the Origins of Life, and the Future of the Human Race John Maddox discusses what some of these gaps are.

The book is in three parts, starting with the physical sciences. Maddox looks at cosmology, particle physics and the promises of a Theory of Everything. The second part deals with life sciences. Here the question of the origin of life on earth is still open, and we have much to do in working out the workings of the cell. Maddox also discusses the mapping of genomes and the theory of evolution. The final part includes a look at what we know about the workings of the brain, and the new fields, such as chaos theory that fast computers are opening up. The final chapter examines some of the threats to humanity which we need to find a way to deal with. Being hit by an asteroid is an obvious example, but Maddox is also worried about genomic instability. Some inherited diseases get worse with each generation, and he thinks the same sort of thing may be happening to humanity as a whole.

My opinion is that this is a strange sort of book, or at least that it doesn't match what you would expect from the title. If you're looking for speculation about what is likely to happen in the next century then you're likely to be disappointed. Maddox has a tendency to be more dogmatic than speculative, and the gaps in our knowledge seem to be failures rather than opportunities. But if you ignore the title, then you might find the book useful as a readable summary of some of the important areas of twentieth century science.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 448 pages  
ISBN: 0684863006
Salesrank: 3765798
Weight:1.28 lbs
Published: 1999 Free Press
Amazon price $7.46
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 448 pages  
ISBN: 0684863006
Salesrank: 721366
Weight:1.28 lbs
Published: 1999 Free Press
Amazon price £20.99
Marketplace:New from £14.57:Used from £0.01
Buy from Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.ca info
Paperback 448 pages  
ISBN: 0684863006
Salesrank: 2619787
Weight:1.28 lbs
Published: 1999 Free Press
Amazon price CDN$ 31.00
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 24.50:Used from CDN$ 1.62
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Product Description
What wonders of science will the 21st century bring? John Maddox takes up this challenge by describing precisely what remains to be discovered. Building on twenty-three years' experience at the helm of the world's preeminent science magazine, Nature, Maddox identifies new areas of discovery in physics, biology, health, intelligence, and global catastrophe. As Maddox shows, the rate of scientific discovery will continue to accelerate, hurtling us toward ever more exciting discoveries in the next century.