Welcome to Research magazine’s 30th anniversary issue! As noted in this space last month, you will find no boring retrospectives or nostalgia about the 1970s in these pages. Instead, we are celebrating this milestone by asking 30 distinguished contributors to explore 30 questions about the future.
To be clear, we have no illusions about our ability to predict the future, which is unknowable. Our emphasis is on the questions, and we’ve asked those questions of people who have distinguished themselves for their clarity of thought. A Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Isidor Rabi, once explained how he reached scientific heights quite unexpected for an immigrant kid from Brooklyn. He replied that when all the other mothers would ask their kids what they learned in school, his mother would say, “Did you ask a good question today?”
One of our contributors, Fran?ois
– on being asked once about an e-mail that came in the wee hours of the morning — explained that before going to bed each night, he writes down the questions he has to give his mind a chance to work out an answer. (His answer came in his sleep, hence that 3 a.m. e-mail.) Framing the question is key to resolving a problem; it is the questioning that leads to excellence.
As this special issue was going to press, our editor Gil Weinreich flew to New York to pick up an unprecedented fifth consecutive “Excellence in Financial Journalism Award” presented by the New York State Society of CPAs, in recognition (for the third time!) of Alexei Bayer’s Global Economy column. One of the judges mentioned to Gil that there was a serious debate whether to give the award to Alex or to another particularly trenchant analysis of today’s economic crisis. Ultimately, however, the committee decided that it had to give the nod to Alex because his analysis was published earlier (and not just one month earlier, but considerably earlier, said the judge).