A New Kind of Science

A New Kind of Science

Book - 2002
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This work presents a series of dramatic discoveries never before made public. Starting from a collection of simple computer experiments---illustrated in the book by striking computer graphics---Wolfram shows how their unexpected results force a whole new way of looking at the operation of our universe. Wolfram uses his approach to tackle a remarkable array of fundamental problems in science: from the origin of the Second Law of thermodynamics, to the development of complexity in biology, the computational limitations of mathematics, the possibility of a truly fundamental theory of physics, and the interplay between free will and determinism.
Publisher: Champaign, IL : Wolfram Media, ©2002
ISBN: 9781579550080
Branch Call Number: 500 W861n 2002
Characteristics: xiv, 1197 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm


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Jan 01, 2018

This is one of the most thought-provoking books I have read. Wolfram was a child prodigy and is clearly a genius: the ideas in this book seem to me to be a completely new way to look at how the world works. Although very long at 1200 pages, the book is not technically difficult to read, in fact it is primarily pictorial. Wolfram shows over and over again that many (most) things could be created by running a simple program with simple rules, over and over again thousands of times. An easy example is a single cell dividing (running the program) according to set rules over and over again to form a leaf. Or a cow. Or a person. The most straightforward way to think of this is in biology, but he also applies the same principle to physics, engineering, and the universe.

Wolfram is a physicist, having been at Caltech with Feynman and written Mathematica.

The frustrating thing about the book is that Wolfram does not discuss “what’s next”. It seems to me “what’s next” is that someone needs to find these simple rules necessary to grow a leaf from a single cell by running the simulation on Mathematica. Then, the next step is to find out how to program a real cell (or a nanobot, or something small and simple) to divide (run the program) following the simple rules necessary to create a leaf. And, then create a real leaf. Then a cow. Then a person.

Wolfram’s idea parallels the Pythagorean idea that to know mathematics is to know God. The book came out in 2002 and actually not much has happened since. This seems odd. I think Wolfram is onto something very fundamental. But I wonder why he didn’t take the idea to the next step.

Feb 05, 2014

One of the most interesting books I've ever read


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