15 top science & tech leaders offer surprising predictions for 2018
The past year has been a momentous one for science and technology. From the detection of #gravitationalwaves (predicted almost a century ago by Einstein) to the rise of virtual currencies like #Bitcoin to the creation of genetically modified human embryos, 2017 was marked by all sorts of remarkable discoveries and innovations. What will 2018 bring? No one knows for sure. But as we did for 2017, we asked top scientists and thought leaders in innovation what they expect to see in the new year. Here, lightly edited, are their predictions. SEAN CARROLL: UNDERSTANDING QUANTUM SPACETIME Sean Carroll Bill Youngblood Dr. Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. His most recent book is “The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself.” I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that we’ll see dramatic advances in understanding the quantum nature of spacetime itself. I won’t make any large bets on this possibility, since theoretical research is notoriously gradual and unpredictable. But the ingredients are in place for moving our understanding substantially forward. Quantum mechanics is the wonderfully successful theory of how the world behaves at the microscopic level, while on large scales space and time are wedded together in Einstein’s famous general theory of relativity. Reconciling how both of these ideas can be true at the same time has been a longstanding puzzle for theoretical physicists. Recently, we have been bringing new tools to bear: information theory, the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, and an improved understanding of black-hole entropy. The time is right to finally figure out the quantum ingredients out of which space and time are made.