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Thread: The Man Who Cracked The Code to Everything

  1. #1

    Default The Man Who Cracked The Code to Everything

    The Man Who Cracked The Code to Everything ...

    ... But first it cracked him. The inside story of how Stephen Wolfram went from boy genius to recluse to science renegade.

    By Steven Levy | WIRED

    Word had been out that Stephen Wolfram, the onetime enfant terrible of the science world, was working on a book that would Say It All, a paradigm-busting tome that would not only be the definitive account on complexity theory but also the opening gambit in a new way to view the universe. But no one had read it.

    Though physically unimposing with a soft, round face and a droll English accent polished at Eton and Oxford, Wolfram had already established himself as a larger-than-life figure in the gossipy world of science. A series of much-discussed reinventions made him sort of the Bob Dylan of physics. He'd been a child genius, and at 21 had been the youngest member of the storied first class of MacArthur genius awards. After laying the groundwork for a brilliant career in particle physics, he'd suddenly switched to the untraditional pursuit of studying complex systems, and, to the establishment's dismay, dared to pioneer the use of computers as a primary research tool. Then he seemed to turn his back on that field. He started a software company to sell Mathematica, a computer language he'd written that did for higher math what the spreadsheet did for business. It made him a rich man. Now he had supposedly returned to science to write a book that would make the biggest splash of all. And, as someone who'd followed his progress since the mid-1980s, I was going to see some of it.

    full story - http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/1...olfram_pr.html

  2. #2


    Very interesting article, but I don't believe that everything in the universe can be explained in a couple lines of computer code...but what do I know?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Beware "mad geniuses"

    They are good at self-promotion but never seem to accomplish very much. And they always find somebody to blame. Real scientists are methodical, respectful team players.

  4. #4


    Quote Originally Posted by Automatic Monkey View Post
    Real scientists are methodical, respectful team players.
    "Real scientists" are people like Wolfram who reach beyond the boundaries of the current paradigm, the limiting dogma which restrains run-of-mill scientists. zg

    More on Wolfram -

    God, Stephen Wolfram, and Everything Else
    Michael S. Malone, Forbes ASAP, 11.27.00

    Silicon Insider: A Theory of Everything?
    Stephen Wolfram's Rule 110 May Change How We Understand the World

    A Theory of Everything
    A New Kind of Science: has the inventor of Mathematica really discovered the unifying secret of the universe?
    Physicist Paul Davies explains what Stephen Wolfram's enormous and comprehensive book is all about.

  5. #5

    Default Wlfram's Book Reviewed

    COMPLETE BOOK ONLINE - http://www.wolframscience.com/nksonline/toc.html

    From Library Journal - Galileo proclaimed that nature is written in the language of mathematics, but Wolfram would argue that it is written in the language of programs and, remarkably, simple ones at that. A scientific prodigy who earned a doctorate from Caltech at age 20, Wolfram became a Nobel-caliber researcher in the emerging field of complexity shortly thereafter only to abscond from academe and establish his own software company (which published this book). In secrecy, for over ten years, he experimented with computer graphics called cellular automata, which produce shaded images on grid patterns according to programmatic rules (973 images are reproduced here). Wolfram went on to discover that the same vastly complex images could be produced by even very simple sets of rules and argues here that dynamic and complex systems throughout nature are triggered by simple programs. Mathematical science can describe and in some cases predict phenomena but cannot truly explain why what happens happens. Underscoring his point that simplicity begets complexity, Wolfram wrote this book in mostly nontechnical language. Any informed, motivated reader can, with some effort, follow from chapter to chapter, but the work as a whole and its implications are probably understood fully by the author alone. Had this been written by a lesser scientist, many academics might have dismissed it as the work of a crank. Given its source, though, it will merit discussion for years to come. Essential for all academic libraries. [This tome is a surprise best seller on Amazon. Ed.]
    - Gregg Sapp, Science Lib., SUNY at Albany


    Reflections on Stephen Wolfram's 'A New Kind of Science'

    by Ray Kurzweil

    In his remarkable new book, Stephen Wolfram asserts that cellular automata operations underlie much of the real world. He even asserts that the entire Universe itself is a big cellular-automaton computer. But Ray Kurzweil challenges the ability of these ideas to fully explain the complexities of life, intelligence, and physical phenomena.

    Stephen Wolfram's A New Kind of Science is an unusually wide-ranging book covering issues basic to biology, physics, perception, computation, and philosophy. It is also a remarkably narrow book in that its 1,200 pages discuss a singular subject, that of cellular automata. Actually, the book is even narrower than that. It is principally about cellular automata rule 110 (and three other rules which are equivalent to rule 110), and its implications.

    It's hard to know where to begin in reviewing Wolfram's treatise, so I'll start with Wolfram's apparent hubris, evidenced in the title itself. A new science would be bold enough, but Wolfram is presenting a new kind of science, one that should change our thinking about the whole enterprise of science. As Wolfram states in chapter 1, "I have come to view [my discovery] as one of the more important single discoveries in the whole history of theoretical science."

    ...more - http://www.kurzweilai.net/articles/a...ml?printable=1
    Last edited by zengrifter; December 1st, 2006 at 03:01 PM.

  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by Automatic Monkey View Post
    They are good at self-promotion but never seem to accomplish very much. ...
    Physics and computer science genius Stephen Wolfram, whose Mathematica computer language launched a multimillion-dollar company, now sets his sights on a more daunting goal: understanding the universe. Wolfram lets the world see his work in A New Kind of Science, a gorgeous, 1,280-page tome more than a decade in the making. With patience, insight, and self-confidence to spare, Wolfram outlines a fundamental new way of modeling complex systems.

  7. #7


    It's interesting material no doubt, but I don't think reading 1200 pages on the subject from a scientist would be an enjoyable read. I wonder if it is written more for the common person, or fellow scientists. I believe that article mentioned the first 12 chapters had little advanced math and science terms for the common reader to grasp the concepts. Although I am fairly versed in math and science.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Default would be interesting to relate Wolfram's ideas to blackjack

    i just read a few excerpts from the online book. the point he makes about how complexity arises from simplicity when you apply rules to cellular automata might be applied to the various rules of blackjack and what happens with the plus cards and minus cards that counters attend to. the plus cards could be looked at as the black cells and the minus cards could be looked at as the white cells. how one would apply the rules is another question
    Wolfram's ideas about celular automata would also seem applicable to a given shuffle for a pack that has some true count and how that would play out.
    Last edited by sagefr0g; December 2nd, 2006 at 02:58 PM. Reason: additional thoughts
    best regards,
    mr fr0g MMOA honorary predator
    that's my take on it your mileage may vary.
    for senior citizen fuzzy count click link:

  9. #9


    "The dogs bark but the caravan moves on."
    .....................The Zengrifter Interview (PDF) |
    The Zengrifter / James Grosjean Reputation Debate
    “Truth, like gold, is obtained not by growth, but by washing away all that is not gold.” — Leo Tolstoy........
    "Is everything a conspiracy? No, just the important stuff." ZG

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