Ideas change the world. The power of a new idea is the engine that transforms the way we live and think. (Our country was founded on one.) It was almost 50 years ago that the philosopher Thomas Kuhn coined the term paradigm shift--the moment when our worldview fundamentally changes because of a new idea, as when people understood that the sun does not revolve around the earth or that climate change is altering the way we would all have to live.
Our new idea--and for it, we can thank senior writer Lev Grossman, who edited the cover package--is the magazine you are holding, an issue devoted to the theories and concepts that are reshaping our world. TIME is collaborating with ABC's World News with Charles Gibson, which is airing a two-part series on how technology is changing our daily routines and how the revolution in genetics may lead to a revolution in health.
The 10 ideas we write about are all paradigm shifts, all new ways of thinking about things that we deal with every day. The first piece contains the largest idea of all and perhaps the simplest: economist Jeffrey Sachs' notion that we can find solutions to the century's most pressing global problems--poverty, hunger, disease, the environment--as long as we think of ourselves as a single group or entity and not as a collection of competing nation-states. Sachs' provocative and inspiring essay is adapted from his new book, Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet.
The ideas we explore are wide-ranging but affect all of us. John Cloud explains how the idea of authenticity--we know it when we see it (or at least we think we do)--is shaping not only our consumer culture but also the presidential campaign. Amanda Ripley explores how counter-terrorism experts are using former terrorists to prevent the radicalization of new ones. Bryan Walsh has a fascinating piece about the idea of geoengineering: how, instead of fixing or curing the earth, we might re-engineer it on a massive scale to solve climate change. Other pieces include Justin Fox's take on the coming era of austerity; David Van Biema on the re-Judaizing of Jesus and what it means for mainstream religion; Barbara Kiviat's essay on the death of customer service; and Joel Stein's tour of the new kitchen, in which the science of chemistry and the art of cooking are revolutionizing the way we make dinner. You can't get closer to home than that.
Richard Stengel, MANAGING EDITOR