The Glass Is Half Full for Some Scientists

[ Tue. Jan. 2. 2007 ]

• WWW.EDGE.ORG Jan. 1

Each year the Edge, a Web site that aims to bridge the gap between scientists and other thinkers, asks a question of major figures associated with the science world. This year's query: "What are you optimistic about? Why?"

Some respondents, such as biologist and entrepreneur J. Craig Venter, said he was hopeful science's empirical, evidence-based methods would be extended "to all aspects of modern society."

But some scientists clearly were hoping to limit expectations. Robert Trivers, a Rutgers University biologist, says the good news is "there is presently no chance that we could extinguish all of life -- the bacterial 'slimosphere' alone extends some 10 miles into the earth -- and as yet we can only make life truly miserable for the vast majority of people, not extinguish human life entirely."