BREAKTHROUGHS by Charles Panati


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A bonanza of breakthroughs from biomedicine to outer space leaves the reader breathless and eventually bothered. This is too bad because Panati is a competent science writer, and he seems to have his facts straight and up-to-date. It's just that there is too much breathless enthusiasm for ""growing new limbs,"" ""gene therapy,"" ""test-tube babies,"" ""do-it-yourself abortions""--plus large takeouts on biorhythms, on brain drugs (for pain, pleasure, memory enhancement), on ways to ""cure"" aging, etc. Panati doesn't skirt the social/ethical issues involved, but he accepts very readily at least some of the theories put forth--the idea, for instance, that there's a criminal personality detectable in childhood, which we should diagnose and take steps to correct. In the hard sciences, Panati anticipates more accurate weather forecasts as well as control of rain, snow, hurricanes; he foresees sufficient progress in astronomy to settle major cosmological questions; and computers, he thinks, may be used to diagnose your ills as well as to provide psychotherapy--possibly through one of the many terminals installed in your home. Of course there will be energy available as we harness fusion, produce fuel cells, tap alternate earth sources, and make bigger and better batteries to power our sonar-equipped cars or launch us to our space homes. For futurologists not sated by Alvin Toffier's Third Wave (p. 115).

Pub Date: March 21st, 1980
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin