Marcelo Gleiser

We all know that the world is changing. Fast. But do we know where it is going? Not exactly.

That being the case, how can we control where it is going? And who is the "we" in control? In Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity, the technology futurist, geopolitical expert, past White House fellow, and, like this author, dedicated endurance athlete Jamie Metzl paints a picture that is at once wondrous and terrifying.

Stephen Hawking is one of those rare luminaries whose life symbolizes the best humanity has to offer.

His uncanny creativity as a theoretical physicist and his decades-long struggle with a horribly debilitating motor neuron disease (also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease) inspired millions to revisit their bonds with science and with their personal challenges.

A mere two years after completing his daring General Theory of Relativity in 1915 — where gravity is interpreted as resulting from the curvature of space and time around a massive body — Albert Einstein wrote a daring article, taking on the whole universe under his new lens.

Late last year, when most people were getting ready for the holidays, physicists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) machine at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, made a startling announcement: Their two massive detectors had identified a small bump in the data with an energy level of about 750 GeV.

In a technological feat that moved the world, last November the European Space Agency landed the small probe Philae on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, which is cruising at some 100,000 miles per hour toward the sun. Excitement turned to high drama when the landing put the probe away from the sun's rays and, thus, from its energy source.