Extraordinary Opportunities…on the Brink of Discovery.
But what is needed to make that happen?
The XO Files are case studies of basic scientific research opportunities with extraordinary intellectual and social potential, selected by a distinguished editorial board. Visionary long term philanthropic support could unlock that potential and ensure continued U.S. leadership on the frontier of basic science.
Why are the XO Files urgently needed?
- Because of the sheer novelty of the potential breakthroughs
- Because of constrained federal research budgets to explore fundamental science
- Because the proposed research falls between agency mandates
The XO Files is a project of the Science Philanthropy Alliance whose members are dedicated to building a community of supporters to advance and fund basic scientific research.
The XO Files have been published into a booklet. Additional case studies have been assembled by MIT and published as a book, The Future Postponed. Also available at futurepostponed.org.
XO FILE: The Origin of the Universe
Measuring tiny variations in the cosmic microwave background will enable major discoveries about the origin of the universe, including details of its early expansion and of physical phenomena at energies a trillion times greater than those of the largest earthbound accelerators.View File
XO FILE: Unveiling the Viral Ecology of Earth
Viral infections modify and transform the functioning of individual cells. They do this not just for humans, animals, and plants, but also for the microbes that drive the Earth’s carbon cycle. Could this tiniest form of life impact the balance of nature on a global scale?View File Download PDF
XO FILE: Are We Headed for a Sixth Extinction?
The stability of life on Earth depends on the biogeochemical cycles of carbon and other essential elements, which in turn depend on microbial ecosystems that are, at present, poorly understood. New approaches could help gauge the potential for another mass extinction.View File Download PDF
XO FILE: Resetting the Clock of Life
We know that the circadian clock keeps time in every living cell, controlling biological processes such as metabolism, cell division, and DNA repair, but we don’t understand how. Gaining such knowledge would not only offer fundamental insights into cellular biochemistry, but could also yield practical results in areas from agriculture to medicine to human aging.View File Download PDF
XO FILE: Mapping the Human Exposome
Documenting the human genome catalyzed fundamental new approaches in medicine. But genes are only the “nature” half of the story. And it’s now possible to map and understand the biological markers that define “nurture”—the total of a person’s lifetime exposure to nutrition, bacteria, viruses, and environmental toxins—which also profoundly influence human health.View File Download PDF
XO Files Archives
Professor of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Professor of Geophysics and Co-Director, Lorenz Center Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Professor of Geology, Lorenz Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Professor of Atmospheric Science and Co-director, Lorenz Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Professor of Oceanography, Lorenz Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Department of Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University
Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Department of Biology, San Diego State University
Jay Precourt Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Director, Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University
Leland T. Edwards Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, and Senior Fellow, Precourt Institute for Energy, Stanford University
Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Director, Center For Marine Robotics, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Professor of Physics, University of California at Santa Barbara
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Pharmacology University of Washington
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Pathology and NYU Cancer Institute, New York University School of Medicine
Professor of Environmental Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University
Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine, Emory University
XO Files Editor: Al Hammond, firstname.lastname@example.org
This project has been made possible by a generous grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.