I highly recommend The Next Fifty Years: Science in the First Half of the Twenty-First Century, especially to anyone in high school or college who is interested in or is already majoring in science or engineering and is looking for an area to specialize in which will experience rapid growth over the next fifty years. It’s a great read for the rest of you, too.
The book is split into two parts, “The Future – In Theory” and “The Future – In Practice”, comprising 25 short essays by prominent scientists. It’s well suited for bedtime reading, since each essay can be easily read independently. That was definitely a good thing for me, as I read it slowly over a span of about a year and a half.
The Next Fifty Years was edited by John Brockman, who runs a fascinating website and intellectual forum called Edge. A couple months ago, I picked up Brockman’s newest book, The New Humanists: science at the edge (available from Barnes&Noble, who also published the book). Given my current book backlog, I’ll be lucky to even start it in a year and a half.