Last week, the Foundation Questions Institute announced the winners of its third essay contest, which Scientific American co-sponsored. (I helped to decide on the question, judge the essays, and hand out the awards at the World Science Festival.) The essay question was, "Is Reality Digital or Analog?" Is nature, at root, continuous or discretized? You can make a powerful case for either option. Or both options. Or neither. A venerable tradition in essay-writing is to question the question.
George Musser is a contributing editor at Scientific American. He focuses on space science and fundamental physics, ranging from particles to planets to parallel universes. Musser completed his undergraduate studies in electrical engineering and mathematics at Brown University and his graduate studies in planetary science at Cornell University, where he was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. Prior to joining Scientific American, Musser served as editor of Mercury magazine and of The Universe in the Classroom tutorial series for K–12 teachers at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, a science and science-education nonprofit based in San Francisco. He is also the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to String Theory. Musser has won numerous awards in his career, including the 2011 American Institute of Physics's Science Writing Award.