As an editor, I've never been a big fan of turning nouns into verbs when perfectly good options already exist. But I'd be happy to see us use “science” that way. It's a powerful, evidence-based process of conducting experiments, gathering data and performing analysis on the results. It's at once a methodical set of practices and a tool that inspires hope for a brighter future by advancing discovery and innovation.
That's why our cover story, “Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2017,” has a special resonance for me. It's about world-changing ideas coming out of the labs that are poised to help us lead better, healthier lives. Scientific American produced the section in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. The Forum annually brings together business and policy leaders—and, increasingly, scientists and their research—to discuss ways we can work together to tackle the world's greatest challenges.
The partnership that led to this special report began three years ago. I was invited to serve as vice chair of one of the Forum's past Global Agenda Councils, focused on identifying emerging technologies. Our chair was the irrepressible polymath Bernard S. Meyerson, chief innovation officer of IBM. With the help of knowledgeable council members, we produced terrific lists for two years.
After our council term ended, our Forum lead, Rigas Hadzilacos, asked me if Scientific American might like to continue to help develop the Top 10 Emerging Technologies list. He proposed that we could tap the knowledge of members of the Forum's Expert Network and Global Future Councils; we also planned to reach out to the ever savvy Scientific American board of advisers and other specialists who keenly observe developing innovations. Not least, Meyerson also smilingly told me he'd enjoy the chance to work for me this time around. How could I resist an opportunity like that? I'm grateful to all who generously helped to shape this collaboration and to the editorial team members who have now brought it to you in this edition.
Elsewhere in our pages, you'll find lots of other ways science is making a difference: changing everything we thought we knew about a “former” planet (“Pluto Revealed”); helping us understand how the tragic history of stolen people has forged modern society (“How Captives Changed the World”); illuminating the true population health of American burying beetles (“Beetle Resurrection”); and exploring the implications of possibly using new gene-editing techniques to preserve ecosystems in the Galápagos. Have a question? Let's science that.