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Science is Culture, conversations at the New Intersection of Science + Society

Science is Culture, conversations at the New Intersection of Science + Society
Adam Bly

Adam Bly
Alan Lightman
Albert László Barabási
Ariel Ruiz i Altaba
Benoit Mandelbrot
Carlo Ratti
Chuck Hoberman
Daniel C. Dennett
Daniel Levitin
David Byrne
Drew Endy
Edward O. Wilson
Errol Morris
James Fowler
Janna Levin
Jill Tarter
Joan Fontcuberta
Jonathan Lethem
Laurie David
Lawrence Krauss
Lisa Randall
Lynn Hershman Leeson
Marc Hauser
Michael Gazzaniga
Michael Shanks
Michel Gondry
Mitchell Joachim
Natalie Jeremijenko
Noam Chomsky
Paola Antonelli
Paul Steinhardt
Peter Galison
Rebecca Goldstein
Richard Colton
Robert Stickgold
Robert Trivers
Spencer Wells
Stefan Sagmeister
Stephen Schneider
Steven Pinker
Steven Strogatz
Thomas E. Lovejoy
Tom Wolfe
Will Self
Will Wright


We are on the cusp of a twenty-first-century scientific renaissance. Science is driving our culture and conversation unlike ever before, transforming the social, political, economic, aesthetic, and intellectual landscape of our time. Today, science is culture. As global issues – like energy and health – become increasingly interconnected, and as our curiosities – like how the mind works or why the universe is expanding – become more complex, we need a new way of looking at the world that blurs the lines between the sciences and the arts and humanities. In this spirit, the award-winning science magazine Seed has paired scientists with nonscientists to explore ideas of common interest to us all. This book is the result of these illuminating Seed Salon conversations, edited and with an introduction by Seed founder and editor in chief Adam Bly.

Introduction: Adam Bly

Evolutionary Philosophy: Edward O. Wilson and Daniel C. Dennett

The Problems of Consciousness: Rebecca Goldstein and Steven Pinker

Time: Alan Lightman and Richard Colton

On Design: Drew Endy and Stefan Sagmeister

Objectivity and the Image: Joan Fontcuberta and Ariel Ruiz i Altaba

Climate Politics: Laurie David and Stephen Schneider

War and Deceit: Noam Chomsky and Robert Trivers

On Dreams: Michel Gondry and Robert Stickgold 117

The Truth of Fiction: Janna Levin and Jonathan Lethem

Daniel Levitin and David Byrne

On Shape: Lisa Randall and Chuck Hoberman

On Artifacts: Michael Shanks and Lynn Hershman Leeson

Who Makes Science?: Lawrence Krauss and Natalie Jeremijenko

What Is Human?: Will Self and Spencer Wells Fractal Architecture: Benoit Mandelbrot and Paola Antonelli

Morality: Marc Hauser and Errol Morris

Free Will: Tom Wolfe and Michael Gazzaniga

Evolution, Creativity, and Future Life: Jill Tarter and Will Wright

Complex Networks, Feedback Loops, and the Cities of the Future: Carlo Ratti and Steven Strogatz

Social Networks: Albert László Barabási and James Fowler

The Physics of Infinity: Paul Steinhardt and Peter Galison

Smarter Infrastructure: Thomas E. Lovejoy and Mitchell Joachim

Harper Perennial


Adam Bly

Scientist and entrepreneur, born in Montreal, Canada, in 1981, Adam Bly initiated his career at 16 as the youngest researcher at the National Research Council of Canada. Out of the lab, without completing a university education, he founded Seed magazine and served as its Editor in Chief. Under his leadership, the magazine earned critical acclaim for modernising scientific publishing and for bridging long-standing divides between science and society – from art and design to politics and religion. He led data at Spotify until 2017, following their acquisition of Seed Scientific in 2015, the data science company he founded.


Together with Paola Antonelli, he co-founded a monthly gathering of scientists, architects, and designers that laid the foundation for “Design and the Elastic Mind”, an exhibition about science and design at The Museum of Modern Art, in New York.


He is the editor of “Science is Culture: Conversations at the New Intersection of Science + Society”, published by HarperCollins, and the creator of the data visualisation platform


He has given lectures around the world on the future of science and its role in society, namely at the World Economic Forum, the National Academies of Science, the Royal Society, the National Institutes of Health, the State Department (of the United States), NASA, the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, The Museum of Modern Art,The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, before the National Science Board and the U.S. House of Representatives, and at universities including Harvard, MIT, and Beijing. He has served on the nominating committees and juries of the Buckminster Fuller Challenge, the Earth Award, and the TED Prize, and sits on the Science Advisory Committee of the World Economic Forum, the External Advisory Board of the University of Michigan’s Risk Science Center, the American Committee of the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Communications Advisory Board of the National Academy of Sciences, and as an advisor to OECD’s Global Project on Measuring the Progress of Societies.


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