What will be the fourth revolution? And will it, like those before, force us to question once more what it means to be human? To find out, Life put the question to some of the world's top scientists.
The leading candidates for the next revolution are enthralling, depressing and mind-boggling. Seth Shostak, of the alien-hunting Seti organisation in California, believes that we will become the first species to invent our successor, intentionally demoting ourselves to intellectual second fiddle. Others say we will finally understand the workings of the mind, and with it grasp fully the nature of self. Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist at the City University of New York, believes that we will discover parallel universes, perhaps floating just inches away from our own. Elvis Presley might even be alive and well in one of them, he says. The Oxford University neuroscientist Susan Greenfield sees a bleak future. We will see a melding of man and machine, she says, leading to the demise of the individual.
'The existence of parallel universes'
Michio Kaku , theoretical physicist, the City University of New York
The next revolution will be proof of the existence of the multiverse. Think of fish in a very shallow pond. They live in a two-dimensional world and feel comfortable swimming forward, backwards, left and right. But there are other ponds, and in some they could swim up and down, too.
Physicists believe that we spend our lives in a little pond of three dimensions, thinking smugly that's all there is, but there are other ponds out there. These universes might be right next to us, perhaps hovering inches above our own.
Some of these universes could look just like ours. I've been asked if Elvis Presley is alive in one of these parallel universes and it cannot be dismissed. Maybe Elvis Presley is still alive in a parallel universe and, as outrageous as it sounds, we physicists actively discuss these kinds of questions. It's mind-boggling. (cont.)