Existence is defined by limits. The limits of survival, of communication, even of scientific thinking — these are the boundaries that shape human understanding of life. Our minds seem tailored toward the finite, yet ever more inclined toward the infinite. We seek not only to understand the unknown but to delve into it by expanding, improving, discovering, and inventing. Breaking through limits gives us purpose.
But limits are not conscious that we make them our adversaries. Disease, bacteria, and climate, to name a few of the forces we have oversimplified in the past as threats, are all natural occurrences that not only enable human life, but long predate it. The wars we wage against natural limits have often distorted them to reemerge in new and unexpected ways: migration-induced epidemics, antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, climates changing at unprecedented rates. Dangers arise when we treat science as a weapon. Yet science can also allow us to identify forces once labelled as “limits” and learn to coexist with them, compromise with them, and break through them in a manner that maintains balance.
Welcome to Issue 86.2 of the Yale Scientific. This issue will interpose “limits” — from the simple curiosity of why humans can’t fly, to the more pressing global issues of malnu- trition and climate change — with breakthroughs, such as potential treatments for HIV, cancer, and diabetes and new, more environmentally friendly methods of trash disposal. In the process of investigating these topics, the new 2013 masthead of the Yale Scientific has been striving to make breakthroughs of our own as a publication. To supplement our print issues, our editors are now regularly publishing exclusive online articles. Our business team has created a media kit for advertisers, among other initiatives, and our outreach team is reestablishing and expanding science mentorship programs for children and high school students. Our production team has also been hard at work, with plans to film a launch video for each issue and revamp our original artistic content, a change which can be seen in the diversity of artistic style in this issue.
Over its 119 years of publication, the Yale Scientific has investigated the human tendency to test and expand limits. Our December 1912 issue featured an article on the “Present Condition and Probable Lines of Development of the Wireless Telephone.” A century later, the cover of our issue featured water-based methods for electricity generation. In this issue, we hope to continue answering a question true to the enduring legacy of our magazine and to human curiosity itself: How is scientific research allowing us to identify and break through the limits of our ablity and understanding?