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Stephen Wolfram explains "A New Kind of Science" Feb. 10

Stephen Wolfram, the theoretical physicist who has been described by Wired magazine as "the Bob Dylan of physics" and a "Jedi mind-warrior," will speak on campus on Monday, Feb. 10, on the ideas contained in his book A New Kind of Science. Wolfram's lecture will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Dinkelspiel Auditorium. The event, co-sponsored by the Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning and the Symbolic Systems Program, is free and open to the public.

Wolfram's paradigm shift may have profound implications for our understanding of physics, biology and perhaps even the character of intelligence in the universe. A London Daily Telegraph headline asked, "Is this man bigger than Newton and Darwin?"

At complexity's core -- from marvels as diverse as the shape of a snowflake to the structure of space and time -- Wolfram finds simplicity. Starting with a handful of computer experiments, Wolfram has developed a new way to explain the essential mechanisms of the natural world. His premise is that simple rules (the kind that make up computer programs or describe how to construct a mosaic tile pattern), rather than elaborate mathematical formulas, have far more potential to accurately describe our universe. "The aphorism that the weather has a mind of its own may be less silly than you might imagine," Wolfram says.

Pre-release orders of A New Kind of Science put the 1,200-page book on Amazon's top few hundred sellers for much of the past six months -- occasionally cracking the top 50 -- and within a week of its publication the entire 50,000 print run had sold out.

Wolfram was educated at Oxford University and Caltech. He was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton; his early work on elementary particle physics and its relationship to cosmology was recognized with a MacArthur "genius" Award in 1981. Wolfram is also the creator of Mathematica, the scientific software used by millions of scientists, researchers, engineers and students.

Nora Sweeny is director of communications for the Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning.


By Nora Sweeny

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