Every year, the website Edge poses a big, open-ended question to leading scientists. This year's query—"What is your favorite deep, elegant or beautiful explanation?"—received 191 answers covering a wide range of ideas, with Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity and Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution receiving the most replies, reports Reuters. Some interesting responses:
- "Darwin's natural selection wins hands down," writes Richard Dawkins, unsurprisingly. "Never in the field of human comprehension were so many facts explained by assuming so few."
- Einstein's Relativity: "This central idea has shaped our ideas of modern cosmology (and) given us the image of the expanding universe," writes one theoretical physicist.
- The human brain's fundamental irrationality: "An ancient brain system called the basal ganglia, brain circuits that consciousness cannot access" control our major life decisions, one neuroscientist writes.
- Group polarization: Interacting with others does not mellow our opinions, but pushes us to extremes in politics and other issues. "The surprising thing is that the group as a whole becomes more extreme than its pre-discussion average," writes a psychologist.