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.
I would argue that the claims in his book "A New Kind of Science" are so vastly overblown as to make him a hack.
If I say "Automata Rule 110 is Turing complete", that's a true statement (assuming I remembered the right number...). If I then essentially say "therefore the universe and everything in it must be best described by automata", I'm straight bullshitting.
With a ton of padding, that's kind of the gist of his "magnum opus".
Right, it’s like saying the entire universe is described somewhere within the digits of pi, because with infinitely many digits eventually it’s a probabilistic certainty, or something like that. But if he is just promoting ideas and thinking in a new way and sharing his work, is it detrimental to progress for him to be a bit overzealous in his portrayal?
[Scott Aaronson's review of the book](https://arxiv.org/pdf/quant-ph/0206089.pdf) points out that A New Kind of Science contains some outright errors, overall sloppy science/philosophy, and shocking ignorance of the fields discussed. I would say its detrimental to present science as being little more than some guy who gets high and "asks big questions". That's what gives a veneer of legitimacy to garbage like "What the Bleep to We Know?" and Deepak Chopra.
And mind you Aaronson only covers the parts of the book about physics and math, something Wolfram is an acknowledged expert it. A New Kind of Science also covers ground in biology and stuff where Wolfram has no special credentials.
I must confess the details are over my head. I gave Wolfram’s work a cursory inspection, and while the hyperbole over the grandness of his ideas (which are in many cases well trodden) is clear, I found some ideas about approaching scientific questions computationally via pattern recognition in vast data versus hypothesis - experimentation somewhat novel. Often I feel he gets attacked more because of his smugness than because of his ideas.
Not to my knowledge. Maybe "hack" is too strong. I have nothing against him myself, but many other commenters seem to have problems with him. I think there are interesting ideas in this work, although it may not meet the usual standards of rigour one might expect. Not had time to read any of it in detail though, and I'm certainly not a physicist.
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My own work seems to be very similar to Stephen's new theory (and might have even inspired him, as I showed it to him two years ago, before he said he started working on this).
Consciousness is really just a measure of complexity of an individual system/individual. The more complex the interconnections are in a system, the more consciousness (interactive information) it has.
I had similar thoughts about conciousness and complexity connection. But that hardly explains anything. How? Why? You know, important questions. Saying it's just a measure of complexity is like saying a bucket is a measure of the Universe.
TL;DR: Steven Wolfram was able to use a simple model to demonstrate that a discrete model of space (as opposed to a continuous one) can predict properties of mass, energy, and space, as well as the physical laws of relativity and the unidirectionality of time. This model relies only on the evolution of space itself, and predicts that mass is a special type of space. For such a simple model, the results are far too powerful to be coincidence.
I love this sort of stuff. Except I do not understand it. When he released his book "A New Kind of Science" I devoured the first few chapters. Cellular Automata I could understand. Then shit went totally over my head.
I read this yesterday. It's interesting enough, but I don't think he's sitting on the answer to life, the universe and everything.
As far as I can tell, this allows you to set up a simple system and then extrapolate a universe from your simple design, relatively quickly. Each time this is done, they add the results to their "library of universes." They are hoping that by simply guessing enough times, they'll be able to come up with a simulation that approximates our own universe.
Let that sink in: they want to try every possible combination until they are able to approximate the universe
> they want to try every possible combination until they are able to approximate the universe
That IS the universe. Or multiverse, if you will.
The key is in how to generate it, using simple rules. I call these rules contraction (natural selection) and expansion (random mutation), such that the simplest elements of reality, which you could call emptiness and fullness, can evolve, using the normal evolutionary process, into a family tree of all possible paths through what can exist, eventually. (Infinitely, probably, since it's a fractal pattern.)
There is more to it though, in his model the laws of physics are independent from the rules and initial state, without having found the initial state and rule set of our universe he can already derive known physics, they arise from the computations regardless of where you start and how you march. I'm not even sure what the race to find our universe would accomplish really, I'm not sure it's feasible, and even assuming we find the rules i'm not sure we would realize we have found his holy graal, but the current results of his model are already remarkable enough.
It's not in how the universe was created (except for the 'universe' bit). If you think about it, it doesn't matter what's this process, it doesn't matter how Earth came about, how the Milky Way came about, and so on, on your life, and its "meaning", "objective", etc..
The answer is kind of lame of course, enjoy your time. But also pretty complicated, becaues no one can define precisely what enjoyment is. But I think it's not *that* difficult. Have some pleasures, as long as they don't disrupt your entire life (i.e. drugs, addictions), better if they have some depth to them. So and so forth. The complexity stems from the depth of our enjoyment and activities, most people can chose the activities you're going to do in their lives (and how complex they want it to be).
Physics can be a source of enjoyment, but it's just for the sake of a mechanic curiosity, it's not going to reveal any kind of deeper meaning (in a way). I guess if we found out we were in a simulation with a particular purpose (which it doesn't look like for a large list of reasons) you could say so, but even then in your own life it shouldn't matter. It has a self-contained meaning, so to speak (at least self-contained in the context of your environment of interaction, i.e. you and society -- and society really matters far less, and mostly through second order effects -- to yourself).
My take as well regarding Multiverse. It may be extremely useful with quantum computing, but it depends on how many universes there are in the Multiverse. If the answer is infinity then even quantum computing may have a hard time because there would be an infinite number of iterations that may approach "our" universe.
I'm not an expert in physics, though, so I defer to the rest of you of you would like to correct me.
I think even if we exist in a set of infinity, the benefit of quantum computing is it grows infinity more quickly than we do on this scale, so eventually we will be outlapped by the smaller, faster infinity.
My understanding of Multiverse theory is that universes are constantly being created and destroyed. Some physicists might try to invoke the idea of symmetry to theorize that the number of universes being born is equal to the number of universes being destroyed so it remains at some constant rate, but we probably have no way of telling if that is true or not. If the number of universes being born is larger than those that are being destroyed then it might not be such an easy target to aim for.
I read through it. I think my issue with it is that I'm not sure if the graphs really reveal anything about the underlying principles involved, and I'm not sure how much can be stated just in terms of graphs.
That was a pretty interesting read, not necessarily holofractal but interesting read nonetheless
edit: in way it could be that Wolfram stumbled upon the mechanics of the holofractal, which he describes as a hypergraph, in which for example elementary particles are localized persistent structures of the otherwise ever changing graph
I have to read it two or three more times to understand it more since physics is not my field, but I immediately thought holofractal just by looking at the graphic illustrations and that may have biased my reading of it but I think it meshes with holofractal quite nicely.
I'm wondering why you initially thought it was not related to holofractal. Did you not look at the images and just start reading? Or do you have expertise in physics and maybe you have a better grasp of what this theory is saying than I do?
I'm afraid my only expertise is curiosity, so the following is not worth much more than 2 cents...
My understanding of Holofractal is that the universe is a fractal network of informational singularities each connecting to each other. My understanding of Wolfram physics is that the universe is a network of states, with time moving the universe from one state to the next via rules applied to the network.
It could just be different ways to look at the same structure, but for now it's impossible for me to reconcile the two. They also seem to provide different results, at least for now... from Wolfram physics we seem to derive equations we are familiar with in mainstream physics, whether classical or quantum, whereas from Holofractal we rather reach the constants and values.