Friday, February 06, 2004

Stephen Wolfram: A New Kind of Science | Online - Staring at the Sun

[Page 750] Stephen Wolfram: A New Kind of Science | Online
This is curious in so many ways. Wolfram thinks science took a wrong turn around the time oF Leibniz and that it needs to be redone using models of recursive numeric rules. He's wealthy, so after 20 years of reclusive labor he published a massive and beautiful book.

He's a certified genius (the genuine article), so people read the book. It got mixed reviews. In addition to being wealthy and brilliant, he has an ego to rival Rumsfeld's. I guess it's easy to see how that coud happen. His ego does not make for easy reading. He's been credibly accused of repurposing published ideas without citing the source. That's not good.

Now he's put the entire massive book online. Very curiously, he chose to represent every page as a GIF image! Google can't parse them. Maybe that was the idea. Despite this odd choice the text is relatively easy to read and the website is a masterpiece of intelligent hyperlinks. (Maybe registration allows one to view the material in another format. I submitted the registration form but have not received the promised registration info.)

I read the page on consciousness. I think he's been staring at the sun a long time. On the other hand, there's increasing evidence that we live in a bizarro universe, perhaps a certain amount of madness is an unavoidable consequence of extensive contemplation of reality.

I think he is guilty of presenting well discussed topics as though he was the first to think of them. It may well be that for him it was de novo discovery, but he is rather well read. Still, this is one web site that can stretch the mind every single day. It should, however, have a warning label of some kind ... Danger: Don't stare directly at the sun.

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