THE OMNI INTERVIEWS by Pamela--Ed. Weintraub


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A skillful selection, and careful presentation, of 20 interviews (out of 70 or so) that have appeared in Omni magazine--yielding a book that, unlike many such gatherings, has coherence and a logical flow. A section on origins and evolution leads off, tapping sources like Cyril Pannamperuma (on chemical evolution), Ernst Mayr, and Richard Leakey. Next comes a section on consciousness with such colorful types as Albert Hofmann (discoverer of LSD), Karl Pribram, and Roger Sperry. ""Programmed Man"" includes interviews with B. F. Skinner and E. O. Wilson; ""High-Tech Prophecies"" brings John McCarthy on artificial intelligence, Hans Bethe on nuclear energy, and Gerard O'Neill on cosmic colonies. Lastly, there's the ""Cosmos Unwinding""--with visionaries Ilya Prigogine, Freeman Dyson, and Brian Josephson. The categories, of course, reflect Omni's futurist orientation and the kinds of controversies that make good copy. So readers will not be surprised to hear Mayr call Francis Crick's notions of panspermia nonsense--or to hear Jonas Salk pontificate on themes metaphysical, which would make both Mayr and Crick cringe. Feminist heroine Candace Pert's discussion of brain chemistry comes off as more glib than scandalously blunt. Most of the interviewees belong to the class of scientists who are also public personalities: articulate, provocative, outspoken. The interviewers, for their part, pose incisive questions without acting smart-alecky or smug. The result is a lively, pleasing potpourri of today's scientific avant-garde.

Pub Date: April 30th, 1984
Publisher: Ticknor & Fields/Houghton Mifflin