|The Tom Bearden
Date: Tue, 16 Jul 2002
Glad you are a grandpappy again, and the daughter and grandson are doing well.
Wolfram's work has probably posed a great challenge to orthodoxy, which tends to worship the mathematics. Actually the foundations of mathematics guys never solved their own problem. Early on the mathematicians took the attitude that math was the only "exact" thing, and thus represented "ultimate truth". Then they got into logic difficulties, such as "how can lines (the presence of length) be made of points (the absence of length)? They split into three branches in attacking such problems over more than a century. Ultimately they did get an answer they did not like; math is a beautiful game, played according to defined rules. But it holds no ultimate truth and is just a model after all. The Godel work establishes that the model is never going to be perfect at all. Much of orthodoxy still does not like that or even wish to accept it. So when he "goes around their accepted math models", he throws the same old gauntlet down at them. And predictably, they will hurl the same old challenge back, demanding that he already have solved all the problems of the universe, and all the problems their stuff can't solve, or else "his couldn't be science".To get a proper perspective on mathematics, I often recommend the book by Morris Kline, Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty, Oxford University Press, New York, 1980. Mathematics is not a body of unshakable truths about the physical world and mathematical reasoning is not exact and infallible. Kline, a leading mathematician himself, laid it on the line and gave the history of it.
So Wolfram did exactly the right thing in self-publishing, staying secluded, etc. Probably they will beat on him for awhile, criticize him for not already having all the solutions (that's already started in "reviews" of the book in scientific publications), etc. Meanwhile, some grad students etc. will take it up, later work on it, develop it gradually, and one day (maybe 50 years from now) it will become quite accepted and part of the lexicon. Then of course "everybody will have known it all along anyhow". At least they have to recognize that Wolfram's work is truly brilliant. But he sure whacked the old sacred science cow, and the Taliban defenders of the conventional faith will be out there in force.Hope things go well, and glad you're back in the saddle.
The last thing I'd like to mention, then I'll quit, is, on Tuesday last week (070902), the LATimes featured a front-page article on Stephen Wolfram and his theories of creation. He was given the COLUMN ONE spot with a headline "The Code of the Cosmos," and another full page with photos and illustration on page 13, section A. Now that's a lot of high-profile ink. There are a few things that I was able to extract from the article, aside from the central issues, that might be helpful to us...1) He self-published his book, so as not to be suppressed, a "...1200 page...opus," titled "A New Kind of Science." 2) He by-passed existing scientific domain gatekeepers...and... 3) His book is written in a language "directed to a mass audience in simple, non-technical language..." 4) He received "crack-pot" characterizations by the scientific community 5) Is living in relative seclusion and safety "...from the next Unabomber..." 6) First edition of 50M is selling out at Amazon for $45/unit
Which is all pretty interesting. And familiar. I've saved the article, and it's probably available online at www.latimes.com for a small fee.That's it for now,
My best to all.