Thursday, March 4, 2010

How wrong about the future can you be?

Distinguished scientists trying to predict the future direction of a field of study is a dangerous (but fascinating) exercise. I have on my desk four such articles. I hope to comment on each in turn, but it is interesting to compare them since they are all very different, have had different impacts, and in hindsight some were pre-scient and others off track. Here they are in chronological order:

Niels Bohr, Light and Life, given at the International Congress of Light Therapy in 1932, and published in two parts in Nature in 1933 (Part 1 and Part 2).

Given as an "after-dinner" speech at a quantum chemistry conference in 1959.

Brian Pippard, The Cat and the Cream, 1961
A conference banquet speech at a conference held at IBMs new lab at Yorktown Heights, and later published in Physics Today.

Serge Haroche and Jean-Michel Raimond, Quantum Computing: Dream or Nightmare? Physics Today, 1996.

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