James Trefil does a real service for the rest of us by digesting significant scientific advances into a small 330 page book.
What I especially like is how the author doesn't drone on and on; He breaks down the topics and even breaks down the topics to questions such as "How many other stars have planets?" Even the questions are answered in an informal manner that makes for engaging reading.
Excellent book for anyone interested in science.
The biggest short-term changes are in genetics: Trefil devotes one of his short chapters the Human Genome Project, then well underway and some years from completion. Now, of course, the "first draft" has been completed and geneticists are contemplating the next step. One obsolete fact has come out already: Trefil states that the human genome has about 80,000 genes when the HGP (and the private counterpart Celera) has discovered, surprisingly, that there are only 30,000.
Also, Trefil discusses the possibility of past or present life on Mars without mentioning the controversial Mars meteorite ALH84001, in which, some scientists claim, there are traces of life.
And the last chapter discusses the Y2K problem, then still looming on the horizon, now safely past (thanks to the hard work of many computer programmers, including me).
Other chapters, I think, will be much the same for many years: we still have a long way to go to understand consciousness, to figure out how life began, and to come up with a fundamental theory that covers all of basic physics, both relativity and quantum mechanics. Not surprisingly, all three of these Trefil puts in his "top ten" problems.
All in all, it's a fascinating read and a great bathroom book with its short chapters - for the nerds, at least.
The author has done this for us and come up with a cliff-notes on where lots of really big/interesting issues stand.
It's a really amazing book and I am here on the site looking to see if there is a new update yet. I hope the author keeps the book alive and current as it rocks. This is already the best book I have bought this year. I got it at the Air and Space museum in Washington D.C.