How does our universe work? Scientist Stephen Wolfram opens up his ongoing Wolfram Physics Project to a global effort. His team will livestream work in progress, post working materials, release software tools and hold educational programs.

Just learned about this. A long read, but really interesting.

The idea that simple rules lead to incredibly complex behavior is not new and wolfram was not the first mathematician to realize it even if he wants to pretend he is.

I’m big into fractal geometry so I would say Mandelbrot was the first 20th century mathematician to really get that concept along side the founding chaos theorist but even their realizations about the fractal nature of the universe ride off shoulders of others work.

I guess for computational mathematicians, the fractal nature of the universe and the simple rules making complex systems is new and mind blowing, for me and everyone whos read through deep simplicity its old ideas recycled into a new branch of mathematics reworded in terms a computer scientist thinks in.

Its not that the ideas aren’t important or mind blowing, they just aren’t new and the academic community has had decades to digest them.

And before the academic community came along many eastern religions came to similar concluions about the nature of the universe a couple thousand years earlier thanks to some good old fashioned shrooms and pot, so these general ideas have also been floating around forever and academics weren’t even the first to suggest them only the first to kind of prove them right with logic and experimental evidence.

It does seem like one difference here, then, is that the theory is now in the hands of people with tools and knowledge to scale it much bigger and longer than anyone previously could. This could lead to it finding frontiers instead of just new people discovering an old thing.

Kinda like how neural nets have existed since like the 80s but only more recently have we had the computational resources to actually make them do something more interesting than fit to a complex math equation.

Or 3D graphics, where the math existed long before computers could render them, and then eventually they could render images, then later it resulted in Doom, and 3D animation, and things have exploded in that space since then.

Or how the first computer programmer existed long before the first computer but programming didn’t really take off until well after the computer existed.

I don’t know if Wolfram has something groundbreaking here. Maybe he has, maybe he’s wasting time. But from reading that paper, it’s clear that if this is something, it’s something that requires a scale that isn’t realistic for humans to explore on their own without tools to automate it. It’s possible that it requires a scale that even computers today can’t get close to, maybe they never will. Like, for example, if they do find the rules and try to run a simulation smaller than a galaxy, would stars even show up at that scale? Planets? Black holes? Having a galaxy the size of ours and others we see might depend on having a universe as big as ours, otherwise it doesn’t have enough variation to result in structures this large, which then might make it look like the real rules aren’t what we are looking for.

The idea that simple rules lead to incredibly complex behavior is not new and wolfram was not the first mathematician to realize it even if he wants to pretend he is.

I’m big into fractal geometry so I would say Mandelbrot was the first 20th century mathematician to really get that concept along side the founding chaos theorist but even their realizations about the fractal nature of the universe ride off shoulders of others work.

I guess for computational mathematicians, the fractal nature of the universe and the simple rules making complex systems is new and mind blowing, for me and everyone whos read through deep simplicity its old ideas recycled into a new branch of mathematics reworded in terms a computer scientist thinks in.

Its not that the ideas aren’t important or mind blowing, they just aren’t new and the academic community has had

decadesto digest them.And before the academic community came along many eastern religions came to similar concluions about the nature of the universe a couple thousand years earlier thanks to some good old fashioned shrooms and pot, so these general ideas have also been floating around forever and academics weren’t even the first to suggest them only the first to kind of prove them right with logic and experimental evidence.

That’s some great perspective, thanks for the detailed reply!

It does seem like one difference here, then, is that the theory is now in the hands of people with tools and knowledge to scale it much bigger and longer than anyone previously could. This could lead to it finding frontiers instead of just new people discovering an old thing.

Kinda like how neural nets have existed since like the 80s but only more recently have we had the computational resources to actually make them do something more interesting than fit to a complex math equation.

Or 3D graphics, where the math existed long before computers could render them, and then eventually they could render images, then later it resulted in Doom, and 3D animation, and things have exploded in that space since then.

Or how the first computer programmer existed long before the first computer but programming didn’t really take off until well after the computer existed.

I don’t know if Wolfram has something groundbreaking here. Maybe he has, maybe he’s wasting time. But from reading that paper, it’s clear that if this is something, it’s something that requires a scale that isn’t realistic for humans to explore on their own without tools to automate it. It’s possible that it requires a scale that even computers today can’t get close to, maybe they never will. Like, for example, if they do find the rules and try to run a simulation smaller than a galaxy, would stars even show up at that scale? Planets? Black holes? Having a galaxy the size of ours and others we see might depend on having a universe as big as ours, otherwise it doesn’t have enough variation to result in structures this large, which then might make it look like the real rules aren’t what we are looking for.