2007 : WHAT ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC ABOUT?

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Physicist, Harvard University; Author, Warped Passages; Knocking On Heaven's Door
Physicist, Harvard University; Author, Warped Passages

People Will Increasingly Value Truth (Over Truthiness)

Optimism is an "ism" like any other. People reading these pages should recognize the responses as the hopeful beliefs that they are. With this caveat, I'm optimistic that people will increasingly value truth (over truthiness). After recent digressions into beliefs and images dominating current thought, I'm anticipating that society will increasingly recognize and understand the value of knowledge. People will want to make their own critical judgments, know more facts, and stop deferring to questionable authorities or visual media for their education. I don't necessarily think everyone will do so. But I'm optimistic that the ones who do won't remain a silent minority.

Part of my optimism stems from my experiences talking and writing about the future of particle physics to the public and the surge of interest I've found when people realize how much they can learn and understand. All of us in the particle physics community are eagerly awaiting the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a proton-proton collider being built in Switzerland that will turn on in 2007 and begin its real operation in 2008. I'm optimistic (with calculations that support my optimism) that this machine will tell us about the nature of mass and explain to us the weakness of gravity relative to the other known elementary particle forces. I'm optimistic that we'll learn something truly new and exciting about the fundamental nature of matter and our world-maybe something as exciting as extra dimensions of spaceā€”or perhaps something no one has even thought about yet. Whatever the results will be, the LHC gives reason to be optimistic.