For a long time I have been interested in the origins of humanity and where we might go. Recently much progress has been made using the genetic sequence of humans and other organisms. Remarkable is the conservation of DNA sequences between species, even those distantly related, for example humans, mice and the fruit fly. The relationships between organisms can be clearly demonstrated and is consistent with the descriptions given by anatomists over the years and evolutionary change over time. The DNA sequence of some human ancestors eg Neanderthals is providing fascinating insights into our evolution and hints as to the specific changes in human DNA sequence that underpins the acquisition of uniquely human features.
Also developing rapidly are the fields of physics, cosmology, nanotechnology, quantum mechanics and materials science. Underpinning this has been the development through computing and use of the laser of the ability to manipulate and share enormous amounts of data. At CERN recently the increasingly detailed description of the Higgs Boson is a powerful lever to take the description of the fundamental components of what we know as matter to another level. Remembering that matter and energy are interchangeable and that particles can be described as waves and vica versa we are on a voyage of discovery that will lead who knows where.
Our consciousness is a part of all of this scheme of things though many are cautions about the possibility of really getting to grips with understanding it at our present level of knowledge. Dualism or Monism? Both need to be kept in mind (!). It is very difficult to imagine that our consciousness is an epiphenomenon that has suddenly appeared. More consistent with the way abilities develop is a gradual process starting with our ancestors that gave them survival advantages.