Daedalus; or, Science and the Future

Daedalus; or, Science and the Future is a book by the British scientist J. B. S. Haldane, published in England in 1924. It was the text of a lecture[1] read to the Heretics Society (an intellectual club at the University of Cambridge) on 4 February 1923.

Haldane uses the Greek myth of Daedalus as a symbol for the revolutionary nature of science with particular regard to his own discipline of biology.

The chemical or physical inventor is always a Prometheus. There is no great invention, from fire to flying, which has not been hailed as an insult to some god. But if every physical and chemical invention is a blasphemy, every biological invention is a perversion. There is hardly one which, on first being brought to the notice of an observer from any nation which had not previously heard of their existence, would not appear to him as indecent and unnatural.

He also expressed skepticism over the human benefits of some scientific advances, arguing that scientific advance would bring grief, rather than progress to mankind, unless it was accompanied by a similar advance in ethics.

The book is an early vision of transhumanism[2][3] and his vision of a future in which humans controlled their own evolution through directed mutation and use of in vitro fertilisation ("ectogenesis")[4] was a major influence on Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. The book ends with the image of a biologist, much like Haldane himself, in a laboratory: "just a poor little scrubby underpaid man groping blindly amid the mazes of the ultramicroscope... conscious of his ghastly mission and proud of it."

The book has been discussed at length by other writers, including Freeman Dyson in his book Imagined Worlds and Sal Restivo in Science, Society, and Values,[5] and the concept has been used in contemporary science lectures.[6]


  1. ^ DAEDALUS or Science and the Future. A paper read to the Heretics, Cambridge, on February 4th, 1923
  2. ^ Transhumanism
  3. ^ "A Timeline of Transhumanism". The Verge. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  4. ^ More, Max; Vita-More, Natasha (April 2013). The Transhumanist Reader: Classical and Contemporary Essays on the Science, Technology, and Philosophy of the Human Future. ISBN 978-1-118-33429-4. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  5. ^ Science, Society, and Values" by Sal. P. Restivo
  6. ^ DAEDALUS OR SCIENCE AND THE FUTURE - Discourse example

External links

Charles Kay Ogden

Charles Kay Ogden (; 1 June 1889 – 20 March 1957) was an English linguist, philosopher, and writer. Described as a polymath but also an eccentric and outsider, he took part in many ventures related to literature, politics, the arts and philosophy, having a broad effect particularly as an editor, translator, and activist on behalf of a reformed version of the English language. He is typically defined as a linguistic psychologist, and is now mostly remembered as the inventor and propagator of Basic English.

Genetics in fiction

Aspects of genetics including mutation, hybridisation, cloning, genetic engineering, and eugenics have appeared in fiction since the 19th century.

Genetics is a young science, having started in 1900 with the rediscovery of Gregor Mendel's study on the inheritance of traits in pea plants. During the 20th century it developed to create new sciences and technologies including molecular biology, DNA sequencing, cloning, and genetic engineering. The ethical implications were brought into focus with the eugenics movement.

Since then, many science fiction novels and films have used aspects of genetics as plot devices, often taking one of two routes: a genetic accident with disastrous consequences; or, the feasibility and desirability of a planned genetic alteration. The treatment of science in these stories has been uneven and often unrealistic. The film Gattaca did attempt to portray science accurately but was criticised by scientists.

H. G. Wells

Herbert George Wells (21 September 1866 – 13 August 1946) was an English writer. He was prolific in many genres, writing dozens of novels, short stories, and works of social commentary, satire, biography, and autobiography, and even including two books on recreational war games. He is now best remembered for his science fiction novels and is often called a "father of science fiction", along with Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback.During his own lifetime, however, he was most prominent as a forward-looking, even prophetic social critic who devoted his literary talents to the development of a progressive vision on a global scale. A futurist, he wrote a number of utopian works and foresaw the advent of aircraft, tanks, space travel, nuclear weapons, satellite television and something resembling the World Wide Web. His science fiction imagined time travel, alien invasion, invisibility, and biological engineering. Brian Aldiss referred to Wells as the "Shakespeare of science fiction". His most notable science fiction works include The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898) and the military science fiction The War in the Air (1907). Wells was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four times.Wells's earliest specialised training was in biology, and his thinking on ethical matters took place in a specifically and fundamentally Darwinian context. He was also from an early date an outspoken socialist, often (but not always, as at the beginning of the First World War) sympathising with pacifist views. His later works became increasingly political and didactic, and he wrote little science fiction, while he sometimes indicated on official documents that his profession was that of journalist. Novels such as Kipps and The History of Mr Polly, which describe lower-middle-class life, led to the suggestion that he was a worthy successor to Charles Dickens, but Wells described a range of social strata and even attempted, in Tono-Bungay (1909), a diagnosis of English society as a whole. A diabetic, Wells co-founded the charity The Diabetic Association (known today as Diabetes UK) in 1934.

Hydrogen economy

The hydrogen economy is the use of hydrogen as a fuel, particularly for heating and hydrogen vehicles; and using hydrogen for long term energy storage and for long distance transport of low-carbon energy.

The hydrogen economy is part of the low-carbon economy being formed by the global energy transition away from the hydrocarbon economy, because hydrogen which is produced and used without releasing much greenhouse gas to the atmosphere helps to limit global warming.

Although molecular hydrogen does not occur naturally in convenient reservoirs, the cost of producing it by steam methane reforming with carbon capture and storage, water electrolysis or other methods is close to the cost of burning natural gas directly for heat or electricity in some countries.However if existing natural gas pipelines are not available, due to its bulk hydrogen may need to be converted to ammonia to be transported over long distances. And according to critics batteries are more suitable for powering vehicles than an expensive to build hydrogen infrastructure refuelling fuel cells.South Korea and Japan, which as of 2019 lack international electrical interconnectors, are investing in the hydrogen economy.In the short term hydrogen has been proposed as a method of reducing harmful diesel exhaust.

J. B. S. Haldane

John Burdon Sanderson Haldane (; 5 November 1892 – 1 December 1964) was a scientist known for his work in the study of physiology, genetics, evolutionary biology, and mathematics. He made innovative contributions to the fields of statistics and biostatistics.

His article on abiogenesis in 1929 introduced the "primordial soup theory", and it became the foundation to build physical models for the chemical origin of life.

Haldane established human gene maps for haemophilia and colour blindness on the X chromosome, and codified Haldane's rule on sterility in the heterogametic sex of hybrids in species. He correctly proposed that sickle-cell disease confers some immunity to malaria. He was the first to suggest the central idea of in vitro fertilisation, as well as concepts such as: the hydrogen economy, cis and trans-acting regulation, coupling reaction, molecular repulsion, the darwin (as a unit of evolution) and organismal cloning. In 1957 he articulated Haldane's dilemma, a limit on the speed of beneficial evolution which subsequently proved incorrect. He willed his body for medical studies, as he wanted to remain useful even in death.Haldane's first paper in 1915 demonstrated genetic linkage in mammals. Subsequent works established a unification of Mendelian genetics and Darwinian evolution by natural selection whilst laying the groundwork for modern evolutionary synthesis and thus helped to create population genetics.

Haldane was a professed socialist, Marxist, atheist and humanist whose political dissent led him to leave England in 1956 and live in India, becoming a naturalised Indian citizen in 1961. He was the son of John Scott Haldane.

Arthur C. Clarke credited him as "perhaps the most brilliant science populariser of his generation". Nobel laureate Peter Medawar called Haldane "the cleverest man I ever knew".

List of non-fiction writers

The term non-fiction writer covers vast numbers of fields. This list includes those with a Wikipedia page who had non-fiction works published.

Countries named are where authors worked for long periods.

Subject codes: A (architecture), Aa (applied arts), Ag (agriculture), Ar (archeology, prehistory), B (business, finance), Bk (books), Bg (biography), C (cookery, housekeeping), Cr (crime, disasters), D (drama, film), E (economics), Ed (education, child care), F (feminism, role of women), Fa (fashion), Fi (fine arts), G (gardening), H (history, antiquarianism), I (information technology), J (journalism, broadcasting), L (language), Lc (literary criticism), Lw (law), M (medicine, health), Ma (mathematics), Mu (music), N (natural sciences), Nh (natural history, environment), P (polymath), Ph (philosophy), Po (politics, government), Ps (psychology), R (religion, metaphysics), S (social sciences, society), Sp (sports, games, hunting), T (travel, localities), Tr (transport)

Language is mentioned where unclear.

The single book title exemplifying an author's work also needs a Wikipedia page for inclusion.

Timeline of hydrogen technologies

This is a timeline of the history of hydrogen technology.

To-day and To-morrow

To-day and To-morrow (sometimes written Today and Tomorrow) was a series of over 150 speculative essays published as short books by the London publishers Kegan Paul between 1923 and 1931 (and published in the United States by E. P. Dutton, New York). As Fredric Warburg proudly recalled in 1959:

It was a unique publishing event. Many now distinguished personages made their debut in this series or contributed an early work.

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