Did This Man Just Rewrite Science?
There are 256 rules you can concoct to play a simple game. Most will create a boring or repetitive pattern. But at least one rule will cause the page to explode into complex, ever-shifting patterns.

This insight is the jumping-off point of Dr. Wolfram's glossy 1,263-page book, 'A New Kind of Science,' published a month ago by Dr. Wolfram himself to the accompaniment of articles comparing Dr. Wolfram to Isaac Newton.

The book holds a No. 2 Amazon.com ranking. It returns to the arena a prodigy who published his first physics paper at 15, earned his Ph.D. from Caltech at 20 and two years later, in 1981, became the youngest MacArthur ''genius'' fellow. In 1988 he founded Wolfram Research Inc. to market his program, Mathematica.

'A New Kind of Science' may be the scientific publishing event of the season, but whether it is a revolution in science as well must await the judgment of Dr. Wolfram's peers. So far, some seem amazed by his courage, others by his chutzpah. In the book Dr. Wolfram argues that the ability of such a simple system to engage in complicated-looking behavior means that scientists have underestimated nature, seeking complex reasons where simple ones will do.

As a result, he says, science has been going in the wrong direction. Most systems of even modest complexity, he concludes, behave so complicatedly that they are beyond the grasp of mathematical formulas. Science should be looking for a simple program, not a T-shirt's worth of equations, if it wants to explain the universe, a project, he says, that would redefine our understanding of space and time, evolution, intelligence, free will, and philosophy, as well as physics.


8 year ago   (01/03/2012 5:21 PM)             Post Reply    

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