Science in 2006, Revisited
From grid computing to genomics, the science fiction of 1986 is fast becoming science fact. There remains equal reward in the signal and in the noise
Seventeen years ago Sigma Xi celebrated its centenary and reflected
on a century of science and engineering research. I had the honor
and good fortune to serve as the Society's president and to
participate in a discussion of how American Scientist might
celebrate this auspicious occasion. Someone suggested that we
prepare papers predicting the future course of science.
"Nonsense," said a very level-headed board member.
"Nobody can predict the course of science. Everyone will
criticize any prediction we make. Besides, that's what makes science
"Scientists can't predict the future of science," I said,
"but science fiction writers do it every day, and often with
surprising perspicacity." So I volunteered to write a piece of
science fiction with the dateline of 2006, 20 years into the future,
imagining how two decades of change and growth in science might look
from that vantage point.