Marcelo Gleiser, Author, The Island of Knowledge; Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Dartmouth College
To be human is to want to know, but what we are able to observe is only a tiny portion of what’s “out there.” Brazilian theoretical physicist Marcelo Gleiser traces our search for answers to the most fundamental questions of our existence and reaches a provocative conclusion: science, the main tool we use to find answers, is fundamentally limited. Our tools of exploration limit the precision of our perceptions, and the nature of physical reality (the speed of light, the uncertainty principle, the impossibility of seeing beyond the cosmic horizon, the incompleteness theorem) just adds to our own limitations as an intelligent species. These limitations, though, constitute neither a deterrent to progress nor a surrender to religion. Rather, they free us to question the meaning and nature of the universe while affirming the central role of life and ourselves in it.