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  •  Oh, I don't know about this. (1+ / 0-)
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    I think there is good progress at answering "ultimate" questions such as how life began. There was a great news piece in Science a few weeks ago about what Jack Szostak's lab has been doing. We've got a good handle on some of the key problems that used to be considered very hard, such as prebiotic synthesis of RNA. And for those of us who are at the computational end of things, we are swimming in oceans of -omic data... well, learning how not to drown in oceans of data... no one could have imagined a few decades ago.

    •  I am not ready to make pronouncements ... (3+ / 0-)
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      atana, riverlover, KenBee

      on future developments in science and we could well work out how life began on this planet (although making that into an easily falsifiable  hypothesis in the sense of Popper would be a bit of a bear!)  Whether that knowledge would improve society is another question. I'm not sure that such information would tell us that life was worth living. Certainly I find the Christian god to not be of much use in this either.  Praising the deity forever or being forever boiled in molten lava don't strike me as at all a good choice of results.

      My main problem is in the idea that we humans are destined to understand it all at some point.  I doubt that we can survive the Total Perspective Vortex.  And I also doubt that we will survive even to get to that point!

      •  I think a reasonable goal is to cook (2+ / 0-)
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        Desert Scientist, riverlover

        some actual evolving protocells in a lab... not just a falsifiable hypothesis but an actual synthesis. Part of the problem is to discover something about how many alternate pathways to life there are, which is also interesting from the standpoint of exobiology. We may not be able to reconstruct the exact pathways life on Earth actually took through RNA world.

        As to how much longer humans will be around, I'm not optimistic about that either.

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