(Antfer) #1
4 Scientific American, July 2019 Illustration by Nick Higgins

FROM
THE EDITOR Mariette DiChristina is editor in chief of Scientific American.
Follow her on Twitter @mdichristina

BOARD OF ADVISERS
Leslie C. Aiello
President, Wenner-Gren Foundation
for Anthropological Research
Robin E. Bell
Research Professor, Lamont-Doherty
Earth Observatory, Columbia University
Emery N. Brown
Edward Hood Taplin Professor of Medical
Engineering and of Computational Neuro-
science, M.I.T., and Warren M. Zapol Prof-
essor of Anesthesia, Harvard Medical
School
Vinton G. Cerf
Chief Internet Evangelist, Google
Emmanuelle Charpentier
Scientific Director, Max Planck Institute
for Infection Biology, and Founding
and Acting Director, Max Planck Unit
for the Science of Pathogens
George M. Church
Director, Center for Computational
Genetics, Harvard Medical School
Rita Colwell
Distinguished University Professor,
University of Maryland College Park
and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School
of Public Health
Kate Crawford
Director of Research and Co-founder,
AI Now Institute, and Distinguished
Research Professor, New York University,
and Principal Researcher,
Microsoft Research New York City

Drew Endy
Professor of Bioengineering,
Stanford University
Nita A. Farahany
Professor of Law and Philosophy,
Director, Duke Initiative for
Science & Society, Duke University
Edward W. Felten
Director, Center for Information
Technology Policy, Princeton University
Jonathan Foley
Executive Director and William R. and
Gretchen B. Kimball Chair, California
Academy of Sciences
Jennifer Francis
Senior Scientist,
Woods Hole Research Center
Kaigham J. Gabriel
President and Chief Executive Officer,
Charles Stark Draper Laboratory
Harold “Skip” Garner
Executive Director and Professor, Primary
Care Research Network and Center for
Bioinformatics and Genetics, Edward Via
College of Osteopathic Medicine
Michael S. Gazzaniga
Director, Sage Center for the Study of
Mind, University of California,
Santa Barbara
Carlos Gershenson
Research Professor, National
Autonomous University of Mexico

Alison Gopnik
Professor of Psychology and
Affiliate Professor of Philosophy,
University of California, Berkeley
Lene Vestergaard Hau
Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and
of Applied Physics, Harvard University
Hopi E. Hoekstra
Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology,
Harvard University
Ayana Elizabeth Johnson
Founder and CEO, Ocean Collectiv
Christof Koch
President and CSO,
Allen Institute for Brain Science
Morten L. Kringelbach
Associate Professor and
Senior Research Fellow, The Queen’s
College, University of Oxford
Robert S. Langer
David H. Koch Institute Professor,
Department of Chemical Engineering,
M .I.T.
Meg Lowman
Director and Founder, TREE Foundation,
Rachel Carson Fellow, Ludwig Maximilian
University Munich, and Research
Professor, University of Science Malaysia
John Maeda
Global Head, Computational Design +
Inclusion, Automattic, Inc.

Satyajit Mayor
Senior Professor,
National Center for Biological Sciences,
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
John P. Moore
Professor of Microbiology and
Immunology, Weill Medical College
of Cornell University
Priyamvada Natarajan
Professor of Astronomy and Physics,
Yale University
Donna J. Nelson
Professor of Chemistry,
University of Oklahoma
Robert E. Palazzo
Dean, University of Alabama at
Birmingham College of Arts and Sciences
Rosalind Picard
Professor and Director,
Affective Computing, M.I.T. Media Lab
Carolyn Porco
Leader, Cassini Imaging Science Team,
and Director, CICLOPS, Space Science
Institute
Lisa Randall
Professor of Physics, Harvard University
Martin Rees
Astronomer Royal and Professor
of Cosmology and Astrophysics,
Institute of Astronomy,
University of Cambridge

Daniela Rus
Andrew (1956) and Erna Viterbi Professor
of Electrical Engineering and Computer
Science and Director, CSAIL, M.I.T.
Eugenie C. Scott
Chair, Advisory Council,
National Center for Science Education
Terry Sejnowski
Professor and Laboratory Head of
Computational Neurobiology Laboratory,
Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Meg Urry
Israel Munson Professor of Physics
and Astronomy, Yale University
Michael E. Webber
Co-director, Clean Energy Incubator,
and Associate Professor,
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Texas at Austin
George M. Whitesides
Professor of Chemistry and Chemical
Biology, Harvard University
Amie Wilkinson
Professor of Mathematics,
University of Chicago
Anton Zeilinger
Professor of Quantum Optics, Quantum
Nanophysics, Quantum Information,
University of Vienna SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN

A Symphony


of Science


We live in a world of networks, write University of Pennsylva-
nia physicist and Mac Arthur Fellow Danielle S. Bassett and Max
Bertolero of Bassett’s Complex Systems Group in this issue. Con-
sider the interstate highway system, the World Wide Web, the
power grid, to name just a few. Our inner world is
also net worked—specifically, in the brain. In
their article, “How Matter Becomes
Mind,” the authors de scribe how
“what the brain is—and thus who we
are as conscious beings—is, in fact,
defined by a sprawling network of 100
billion neurons with at least 100 trillion
connecting points, or synapses.”
Until recently, neuroscientists have
looked at the different regions of the brain
in relative isolation. Just as an orchestra
requires all instruments to play together, Bassett and Bertolero
note that “living brains are massive orchestras of neurons that
fire together in quite specific patterns.” Researchers studying
these networks could lead to a clearer picture of cognitive func-
tioning, better diagnoses for psychiatric diseases and new ther-
apeutics. To learn more about them, an allegro tempo to page  
might be in order.


As I write, unfortunate outbreaks of measles are occurring in
several areas of the U.S. and other places where people have
chosen not to vaccinate out of misplaced health fears. By train-
ing immune systems, however, vaccines have the means to pre-
vent illness as one of the most remarkable and far-reaching
medical benefits humanity has ever seen. But what if, asks jour-
nalist Rowan Jacobsen, we could create virus-proof cells? Turn
to “The Invulnerable Cell,” on page 34.
Advances in discoveries often draw our attention to a time
when we’ll be enjoying the next fruits of science
and technology. But there’s great value in
appreciating the lessons of the past as
well. In our special report, starting on
page 50, we do just that as we take
“One Small Step Back in Time.”
Half a century ago Neil Arm-
strong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin
became the first humans to visit the surface
of the moon while Michael Collins piloted the or bit -
ing Apollo  11 command module—supported by thousands
of nasa engineers, scientists and mission controllers back on
Earth. Back then, I remember thinking it would be no time at all
before we moved on to Mars and beyond. Yet nobody has re -
turned to the lunar surface since the last astronaut left in 1972.
The Apollo missions demonstrated the power of big dreams to
motivate and unify a nation amid social and political strife.
Today we face other challenges. But perhaps, inspired by this
past triumph, we might again summon the will to create for our-
selves a better, more hopeful future.