From the Editor: 83.2 Inventing the Future

Melissa Stone | melissa.stone@yale.edu September 1, 2010

From the Editor: 83.2 Inventing the Future

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” – Alan Kay, President of the Viewpoints Research Institute, a non-profit organization devoted to improving powerful ideas education

Scientists spend their lives envisioning the future. They ask themselves what are the implications of their research and how will their findings better humanity. However, unless one possesses knowledge in divination, most members of the scientific community would argue that much of the future is unknown. Nevertheless, scientific research requires predicting the future by developing a working hypothesis–a projected explanation for a detectable result. How can science reconcile the difficulty in predicting the future and the necessity to do it?

Science invents the path to the future. A great scientist is proactive and develops the means to an end. And, researchers at Yale are doing precisely this.

Professors at Yale are participating in the PORTIA project in which they envision a society overloaded with electronic information and without a means to effectively store, handle, and protect it. Members of the PORTIA project are creating a future in which we know how to appropriately use masses of information. Furthermore, Yale Professor Yingqun Huang has identified key proteins in identifying ovarian cancer cells. Huang wishes to better understand these cells in hope of using directed gene therapy to treat those with ovarian cancer. Huang has identified her goal for the future and is inventing the path to achieve it.

In modern society, Americans are similarly inventing a future to meet their needs and desires. Avatar had its production delayed several years while its producers developed the technology necessary to fulfill the director’s vision for the film. Rebecca Skloot, author of “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Locks”, publicized the story of Henrietta Lacks to “inspire change”–creating a future in which we aspire to a higher degree of medical ethics.

The Yale Scientific also seeks to invent the future. Whether showing children the wonders of science through live demonstrations or explaining to teenagers how they can perform science research, we are helping to foster the next generation of bourgeoning scientists. Through our outreach, the Yale Scientific gives its hand in inventing the future.

The theme for this issue is “Inventing the Future”. Different from past issues, we are also premiering a series on the Life of Science at Yale  and a science cartoon. I hope that you enjoy this issue of the Yale Scientific and that you are inspired to invent a future of your own.