We live in a splintered world, a world where the value of expertise and trustworthy information is being challenged in unprecedented ways.
People are confused about essential issues, many of them related to science and its impact in our lives. When you get to a website, algorithms decide what you must buy and watch next, with the scary result that groups are becoming increasingly more polarized, enveloped in a cocoon of media-fabricated values. The result is a generalized lack of empathy, of tolerance, and of openness toward different opinions.
In particular, some of the biggest questions of our time, those related to technology and its applications, are exploited and distorted by interest groups: Should we eat GMO foods? Is global warming really due to human interference? Are vaccines good or bad for you?
What’s the value of basic research? Should we pursue genetic engineering projects that can create new forms of life? Should we modify the human genome?
How can we guarantee the survival of our species in an age of thinking machines? Are we creating our own doom? And, if so, how can we stop it? Are there questions beyond the reach of science? If so, what are they and how should they be approached?
We are very thankful for having had the space at NPR to write our blog on science and culture for almost nine years. With our co-bloggers, 13.7 created a community of like-minded people, interested in the constructive engagement of ideas on all issues related to science, technology, and their impact on culture and society. Unfortunately, there was a recent change of direction at NPR and we needed a new home.
This is where our friends at ORBITER came in, opening new doors for our work to continue. With renewed enthusiasm, we will expand our efforts to create a unique platform where science and culture interact, bringing some of today’s most pressing issues to the forefront. In the spirit of our work at 13.7, we will focus on the big questions, aiming to bring a fresh and informed viewpoint to our readers.
Keeping up with the ongoing progress in cosmological research and new information that the age of the universe is closer to 13.8 billion years, we now call our digital space 13.8: Science, Culture, and Meaning. We hope you will join us, becoming an active partner in the spread of a balanced outlook on science, technology, and their role in our lives.
Marcelo Gleiser is a theoretical physicist and writer, the Appleton professor of natural philosophy, and of physics and astronomy at Dartmouth College. He is the author of five books, translated into 15 languages, as well as hundreds of essays. Adam Frank is a computational astrophysicist and the author of four books including the upcoming Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth.