Grounds for optimism?

"I recall Chekhov’s story because of a link Dave Lull sent me to a brief essay by Rebecca Goldstein at Edge. She is one of 160 people – scientists, journalists, psychologists, academics of various sorts – asked to respond to this question: “What are you optimistic about?” Her answer, in short, is that humans have the capacity to understand one another." Thus writes Patrick Kurp in a new year’s essay.

So what are you optimistic about in these first few days of a new year? Putting aside world peace, and end to hunger and a stop to all beauty contests, what is the one best thing that has a good chance of happening this year?

So far, our newly acquired and rapidly accumulating knowledge of genetics and "genomics" has not translated into demonstrable benefits for human health and wellbeing (eg agricultural improvements). I’d like to think that in 2007 such a direct benefit might be found.

I’d also like to think that the seventh and final "Harry Potter" book will be published this year, and that it will be as good, and as satisfying, as the others.

What are your optimistic predictions for the year ahead?

6 thoughts on “Grounds for optimism?

  1. I usually try to avoid discussing politics on the web, but I am very optimistic that we will get a new Deputy Prime Minister this year, who is not as big an idiot as the present incumbent.

  2. I don’t do optimistic (I’m always being accused of being a pessimist, although I maintain I’m a realist !), but I’d like to believe that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be out this year finally – and that I’ll be able to write about the complete series in my projected book !

  3. Aside from my personal expectation of eventually getting back into stride and actually reading my favourite blogs in reasonable time….
    I’m fairly optimistic that when the threatened pandemic ‘flu arrives the international community will be able to avert a ‘worst-case’ outcome. In spite of the need to cope with a more rapid spread than previously experienced, I think there’s going to be a well co-ordinated response, better than anything we’ve ever seen before.

  4. Let’s hope you are right, Susan. At the risk of a bit of vicarious self-advertising, Nature (mainly in the person of Declan Butler) has been in the vanguard of the avian flu response efforts, including the first (?) collaboration with Google Earth for any disease to look at spread and potential spread. Nature already has an Avian Flu website for these and other projects, and will be launching it as a proper “online journal and reports” site later this year — at present we are soliciting suggestions from the community and readers about the best ways to go about this. (access via

  5. That last bracket I have given above has got caught into the url and of course should not be there, but the url will still work as our default for wrong urls is the site index. Correct:
    Thanks also Michele, Clare (could not agree more, Clare) and Norm/Uriah for your suggestions. I am glad to see, Michele, that our mutual hopes about HP7 are going to be realised (according to the WHS sales assistant yesterday who unsuccessfully tried to persuade me to reserve one of their copies. John Lewis on the day is my best advice- best price anywhere (they match Amazon and any other discount offer) and no need to wait for the postman).

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