Blog on Math Blogs

Mathematical Digest


Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

Articles about A New Kind of Science, by Stephen Wolfram:

"A Man Who Would Shake Up Science," by Edward Rothstein, New York Times, 11 May 2002;
"Stephen Wolfram propose de revisiter les lois de l'Univers," by HervéMorin, Le Monde, 14 May 2002;
"Is this man bigger than Newton and Darwin?," by Graham Farmelo, Daily Telegraph, 15 May 2002;
"What kind of science is this?," by Jim Giles, Nature, 16 May 2002;
"Das Universum als Programm," interview with Stephen Wolfram, and "Der Code desgrossen Ganzen," by Ulrich Kühne, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 21May 2002;
"Science is a computer program," by John L. Casti, Nature, 23 May 2002;
"Great Minds, Great Ideas," by Steven Levy, Newsweek, 27 May 2002;
"The World According to Wolfram," by Brian Hayes. American Scientist,July-August 2002;
"What's So New in a Newfangled Science?"by George Johnson. New YorkTimes, June 16, 2002;
"Scientist's tome draws notice, critics," by Gareth Cook. Boston Globe,19 June 2002;
"Life,the Universe, and Everything," by Greg Huang. The Atlantic Online,26 June 2002;
ColumnistJohn Allen Paulos Explores A New Kind of Science;
"The Book of Revelation," by Robert Matthews. New Scientist, 6 July 2002, pages47-49.

These articles represent a sampling of the worldwide press coverage thatgreeted the publication in May 2002 of Stephen Wolfram's book A New Kind ofScience. Except for the one in Nature, the articles are profiles ofthe tremendously confident Wolfram, who asserts that he has discovered acompletely new kind of science. A passage from the Daily Telegrapharticle gives a flavor of the mixture of awe and skepticism that characterizesmuch of the reaction to Wolfram's book: "Here I am in a Boston restaurant withan accomplished physicist who matter-of-factly assures me that his new bookwill revolutionise science. Not just parts of science, but everything from thetheory of evolution to the very nature of space and time. Industry will bedifferent, too, he claims: `In 50 years' time, more new technology will bebased on this new kind of science than on conventional science.'" In hisreview of the book, John Casti calls the book "fascinating, frustrating, andoverwhelmingly hubristic," and asserts it cannot be ignored: "[I]t will forceyou to reconsider your notions of what constitutes the practice and content ofscience. Such a book appears only once every few decades."

--- Allyn Jackson