If the Edge 2012 annual question collection of answers leaves you feeling excessively optimistic, you can read this year's question ("What *should* we be worried about?") and answers here; the 2013 collection should be published in dead-tree and e-book format in a year or so, if the historical pattern continues. Also see the left-hand side of the Edge page for an index of the annual collections -- all are thought-provoking.
"Every year since 1998, intellectual impresario and Edge editor John Brockman has been posing a single grand question to some of our time’s greatest thinkers across a wide spectrum of disciplines, then collecting the answers in an annual anthology. Last year’s answers to the question “What scientific concept will improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?” were released in This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking, one of the year’s best psychology and philosophy books.
In 2012, the question Brockman posed, proposed by none other than Steven Pinker, was “What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation.” The answerers, representing an eclectic mix of 192 (alas, overwhelmingly male) minds spanning psychology, quantum physics, social science, political theory, philosophy, and more, are collected in the edited compendium This Explains Everything: Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories of How the World Works (UK; public library) and are also available online."This Explains Everything: 192 Thinkers Each Select the Most Elegant Explanation of How the World Works | Brain Pickings