Eric Haseltine Asks What Will Be the Next Scientific Breakthrough

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Eric Haseltine Asks What Will Be the Next Scientific Breakthrough


Throughout history, speculation has spurred beautiful, revolutionary science — opening our eyes to entirely new universes. "I'm not talking about science that takes baby steps," says Eric Haseltine. "I'm talking about science that takes enormous leaps." In this talk, Haseltine passionately takes us to the edges of intellectual pursuit with two ideas — one that's already made history, and the other that's digging into one of humanity's biggest questions with admirable ambition (and a healthy dose of skepticism from many).

"I've got to believe that there are Darwins and Einsteins out there, and I'll tell you why."
Eric Haseltine is a neuroscientist and futurist who has applied a brain-centered approach to help organizations in aerospace, entertainment, healthcare, consumer products and national security transform and innovate. He is the author of Long Fuse, Big Bang: Achieving Long-Term Success Through Daily Victories. For five years, he wrote a monthly column on the brain for Discover magazine and is a frequent contributor to Psychology Today's web site, where his popular blog on the brain has garnered over 800,000 views.

In a recent TED Talk, Haseltine postulates that two new ideas may be the breakthroughs, that are opening our eyes to a completely new world. In his words, "One has opened our eyes to a completely new universe, and the other attacks long-held beliefs."


Haseltine's first breakthrough idea is based on the work of Eric Betzig. Betzig is a Nobel prize winning physicist who quit a job at prestigious Bell Laboratory inventing new microscopes for biology because he thought scientists were taking his brilliant inventions and doing lousy work with them. So he became a househusband, but he never lost his passion for figuring out how to get microscopes to see finer and finer details than had ever been seen before or ever could be seen. What' more, Betzig's live cell tomography actually records video at this detail of live cells.

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"This is crucial if we're ever going to understand how cells work, and how cancer works, and how something 150th the size of a head of a pin can do all these amazing things, like make proteins and move charges around and all of those things," states Haseltine.

Haseltine's next breakthough ideamaker is no stranger to 33rd Square readers: Aubrey de Grey. "Now, most scientists think he's a crackpot," admits Haseltine. But de Grey's work does have a solid scientific foundation according to many, and more and more in the community are coming on board with his ideas around longevity.

I've got to believe that there are Darwins and Einsteins out there, and I'll tell you why. Consider this: there are seven times more people alive today than during Darwin's time. There are four times as many people alive today as Einstein. When you consider that the proportion of scientists in the population has skyrocketed, there are now seven million scientists. I've got to believe, and I do believe, that there's one of them out there who is working right now in obscurity to rock our lives, and I don't know about you, but I can't wait to be rocked.

Haseltine received the Distinguished Psychologist in Management Award from the Society of Psychologists in Management and has published 41 patents and patent applications in optics, media and entertainment technology. In 1992 he joined Walt Disney Imagineering to help found the Virtual Reality Studio, which he ultimately ran until his departure from Disney in 2002. When he left Disney, Haseltine was executive vice president of Imagineering and head of R&D for the entire Disney Corporation, including film, television, theme parks, Internet and consumer products. In the aftermath of 9/11, Eric joined the National Security Agency to run its Research Directorate. Three years later, he was promoted to associate of director of National Intelligence, where he oversaw all science and technology efforts within the United States Intelligence Community as well as fostering development innovative new technologies for countering cyber threats and terrorism.

For his work on counter-terrorism technologies, he received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal in 2007. Haseltine serves on numerous boards, and is an active consultant, speaker and writer. Over the past three years, he has focused heavily on developing innovation strategies and consumer applications for the Internet of Things, virtual reality and augmented reality. Haseltine continues to do basic research in neuroscience, with his most recent publications focusing on the mind-body health connection and exploitation of big-data to uncover subtle, but important trends in mental and physical health.


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