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This article was prepared for the August 25, 2004

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Between The Lines

When U.S. 1 staged its first Technology Showcase, a dozen summers ago, the emphasis was on things – the latest and fastest computers and printers. Now our focus has gravitated to ideas. Last year we asked Princeton University computer scientist Ed Felten to expound on his favorite topic, our freedom to tinker with the technology we own (www.freedom-to-tinker.com).

This year we eagerly await futurist Greg Stock on Thursday, September 2, at the Westin Hotel when we present our Technology Showcase for Better Living along with the Princeton Chamber of Commerce’s Expo from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is a charge for the lunch, where Stock will be the featured speaker, but those who do not attend the lunch are encouraged to come for free to hear Stock’s address at 12:45 p.m.

In Craig Terry’s cover photo, Stock is reflected several times in the glass atrium wall of the Carl Icahn Laboratory, housed in Princeton University’s Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics. The image is appropriate for Stock’s topic: how radical technological developments like cloning and deciphering the human genome could fundamentally change our understanding of what it means to be human (See Christopher Mario’s article, page 8.)

Stock asks the hard questions about bioethics, and he encourages us to ask difficult questions in many areas of our own lives. In fact, it was with the pocket-sized "The Book of Questions" that he first made the New York Times best seller list, and he repeated this success with others in the series.

"Start giving yourself permission to voice those dangerous questions you’ve never quite been willing to ask, those provocative thoughts whispered by an inner voice and soon forgotten," he writes ("The Book of Questions," released in 1985 by Workman Publishing, $6.95). "When people encounter someone inquisitive who genuinely wants to hear what they have to say, far from being offended, they are usually eager to talk about the important things on their mind. There are no correct or incorrect answers, only honest and dishonest ones."

A sample of Stock’s fodder for casual or intense conversations: If you could increase your IQ by 40 points by having an ugly scar stretching from your mouth to your eye, would you do so? Would you be willing to give up all television for the next five years if it would induce someone to provide for 1,000 starving children in Indonesia? If a new medicine were developed that would cure arthritis but cause a fatal reaction in one percent of those who took it, would you want it to be released to the public? Would you like to be famous? In what way?

This week another interview underlines how questions can dramatically affect our relationships. Marilee Adams, Lambertville-based author of "Change Your Questions, Change Your Life," suggest that how we think about, phrase, and present questions can make the critical difference in how we are perceived and whether we succeed. See page 54.


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