A Scientist on Possibility

By Hadassah Head

There are many different directions that scientific thought has taken relating to pondering possibility and change.

One such concept, developed by biologist Stuart Kauffman, is that of the “adjacent possible.” Basically, this idea holds that what is possible right now is limited by con-straints (such as technology or capital). But we continue to push this edge of pos-sibility by working around constraints.

These new concepts create not only new breakthroughs, but also new niches that drive continued exploration. (For example, the Internet is a relatively modern niche.) As individuals and as a society, we consider where we want to go and we make short-term decisions that open doors toward our longer-term goals. We make it more likely to get where we are hoping to go, but we can’t predict with certainty that we will get there, because we don’t know what the variables will be in the future.

Hadassah Head is coordinator of the evolutionary studies program (EvoS) at Binghamton University. She studied at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and she tweets as @Haddie.

If you liked this content, please complete this survey.
READ: All the Sh’ma stories)

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

A Scientist on Possibility

Thank you!

This article has been sent!