In his 1963 Lectures on Physics, Richard Feynman famously asked about a single statement that captures all knowledge:
If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generations of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words?
Dr. Feynman answered his own question based on atomic theory.
Inspired by Feynman, Seed Magazine posed the following question to some of the world’s leading scientists:
Imagine that in a mission to change everyone’s thinking about the world, you can take only one lesson from your field as a guide. In a single statement, what would it be?”
They published answers from 11 scientists; two of which stood out to me:
“Humans have a tendency to fall prey to the illusion that their economy is at the very center of the universe, forgetting that the biosphere is what ultimately sustains all systems, both man-made and natural. In this sense, ‘environmental issues’ are not about saving the planet—it will always survive and evolve with new combinations of atom—but about the prosperous development of our own species.”
—Carl Folke, science director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University
“Knowledge is a public good and increases in value as the number of people possessing it increases.”
—John Wilbanks, vice president of science at Creative Commons
From my perspective, we can combine the two:
Spread knowledge so that we can ensure the continued prosperous development of our species.
A single statement to change the world.