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Wolfram's New Kind of Science Now Online

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the light-reading dept.

Books 480

gotscheme writes "When Stephen Wolfram of Mathematica fame self-published A New Kind of Science in 2002, he raised the suspicions of many in scientific communities that he was taking advantage of a lot of other people's work for his sole financial gain and that he was going against the open nature of academia by using restrictive copyright. Yesterday, Wolfram and company released the entire contents of NKS for free on the Web (short registration required). Perhaps Wolfram is giving back to the scientific community; perhaps it is simply clever marketing for a framework that is beginning to gain momentum. For any matter, the entire encyclopedic volume is online, and this appears to be a positive step for scientific writing."

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Hello people (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201349)

Just doing my job
--
Andy.

Re: DOES TEH SPOKE HAVE BUDDAH NATURE?!? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201551)

i heard this webblog is teh #1 place for pics of carrie fisher covered in cold oatmeal. plz send kthx bye.

Didya know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201659)

Wolfram = German for tungsten

obligatory (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201355)

This new kind of science - what's that all about? Is it good, or is it wack?

Re:obligatory (2, Insightful)

Rhubarb Crumble (581156) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201582)

This new kind of science - what's that all about? Is it good, or is it wack?

For a change, this is actually a legitimate question. Having browsed through a friend's copy (thank god I didn't splash out for one of my own) I have come to the conclusion that it is "whack". A colossal exercise in vanity publishing, nothing else (except for the gratuitious advertising for his own software). Pretty pictures though.

Re:obligatory (-1, Redundant)

The Ayahtrollah (727110) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201716)

Why is the parent a Troll and yet the reply complimenting it is Insightful? Slashbot mods must put down the pipe.

ATTENTION! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201359)

This is the second post.

Andy got the first one because it is his job.

YOU FAIL IT!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201677)

you failed it miserably!

New Kind of Hype? (3, Troll)

corebreech (469871) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201382)

The idea that the universe is the product of the combinatorial effects of different combinations of events seems neither unique nor unexpected.

I know this will probably be modded as a troll, but could it be that NKS is nothing more than a computer-science primer for physicists?

Re:New Kind of Hype? (5, Interesting)

gowen (141411) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201418)

idea that the universe is the product of the combinatorial effects
Penrose's spinor group has been working on similar foundations for 30 years, and they've actually produced some interesting results, with applications in Superstrings and quantum gravity. By comparison, Wolfram is just a bored dilletante scribbling on the back of an envelope.

Re:New Kind of Hype? (1)

benzapp (464105) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201561)

but could it be that NKS is nothing more than a computer-science primer for physicists?

Perhaps a computer-science primer for biologists. Most of the mathematical patterns discussed in the book are organic.

Meh... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201383)

I actually have this book gathering dust on my bookshelf... I read the first chapter before my brain decided to fall asleep on me...

Maybe one day I'll get to reading it, but there's just so much material in that book...

Re:Meh... (3, Funny)

after (669640) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201497)

I read the first chapter before my brain decided to fall asleep on me...
Maybe one day I'll get to reading it, but there's just so much material in that book...

That reminds me of the time that I cryed when trying to install Debian. I never thaught that computer can make a man cry.

Maybe one day I'll get to install it without running away like a little girl.

Nothing to see here (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201386)

The work is almost completely without merit -- a Godel, Escher, Bach for idiots.

Wolfram doesn't care, he's made a nice pile from it, generated some nice PR for himself; refused all peer review; got a bunch of sycophantic reviews -- largely from non-scientists -- took his short term profit, then bailed.

If he was poor, he'd've been dismissed as a kook, but the rich can lay on some nice junkets, so they get treated as genius, even when their ideas are rotten.

Move along.

Yes (5, Funny)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201607)

I often look to Anonymous Cowards for respected peer review.

Re:Yes (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201753)

Piss off, you UID > 700000 loser. You've been here for how long? A month? What makes you think you know anything about this community?

Don't make me laugh.

Re:Nothing to see here (0)

Hotbeef (749143) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201687)

I read this stuff a little while back and actually wrote an article [cgff.net] about it. Basically the guy IS a kook. I've had plenty of friends like this. They try to talk over everyones head and since nobody knows what they're talking about, they assume my friends are smart. My friends are idiots though and just babble about crap, and will even admit it when cornered. What a joke!

worked for mormons (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201689)

merit? who needs merit!

dumbdumbdumbdummmmb dumb

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

Anonymous Coed (8203) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201717)

You're just plain ignorant.

Good God! (1)

Azureflare (645778) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201791)

What am I supposed to believe? Almost every alternating post has a complete difference in opinion on Wolfram's work!

My mind is falling apart!! Agh!! This is SLASHDOT for Pete's sake! I can't take the differing opinions!!! >explodes<

Seriously though, who's right and who's wrong? Not everyone can be right!

Or does getting modded up not necessarily delineate truth?

Enjoy reading his stuff (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201388)

If I recall correctly, he published his first scientific paper at the age of 15, and had received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Caltech by the age of 20.

Not too bad.

Re:Enjoy reading his stuff (5, Informative)

mariox19 (632969) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201503)

And if I recall correctly, he received his Ph.D. without ever attending any classes, because the quality of his frequent papers was so high that Caltech risked embarrassment that another university might snap him up and grant him a Ph.D. first.

Whatever this "new kind of science" turns out to be, the guy is an indisputable example of rare genius.

Re:Enjoy reading his stuff (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201660)

Isn't that like the cranks that linger at the sci.math forums?
That 9 year old brat, and there's another one that motivated an automated mail response: every time he sends an e-mail, another one comes to warns, basically, that he's a loony...

Or perhaps... (4, Insightful)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201390)

Or perhaps the book itself was too expensive for any sane person to plop down the money to purchase it.

ANKOS is not a groundbreaking book, and it's conclusions (that all creation is fundamentally programmed into it) is specious. He is adamant that there is no God which created everything, yet he points to artificial order which could only be created by an intelligent designer.

He totally discounts the view that these patterns are the result of accepted scientific theories like evolution and geology and says that evolution and geology are directed by the patterns. It's a completely inside-out view of the universe and despite its obvious attraction for pseudo-intellectual navel gazers, the book and its contents are neither anything new nor anything that could be construed as vaguely scientfic.

Re:Or perhaps... (2, Interesting)

websaber (578887) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201452)

It's a very smart move publishing it on the web. Nobody is going to be able to read 1200 pages online a lot of people will start reading it and get hooked and go out and buy it. People that need refrences can just get it on the web.

Unfortunately... (3, Funny)

AndrewHowe (60826) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201510)

It's currently suffering A New Kind of Slashdotting.

Re:Or perhaps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201627)

WGET is cheaper than the $100 or whatever it is.

Re:Or perhaps... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201468)

SCIENCE!

*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_
g_______________________________________________g_ _
o_/_____\_____________\____________/____\_______o_ _
a|_______|_____________\__________|______|______a_ _
t|_______`._____________|_________|_______:_____t_ _
s`________|_____________|________\|_______|_____s_ _
e_\_______|_/_______/__\\\___--___\\_______:____e_ _
x__\______\/____--~~__________~--__|_\_____|____x_ _
*___\______\_-~____________________~-_\____|____*_ _
g____\______\_________.--------.______\|___|____g_ _
o______\_____\______//_________(_(__>__\___|____o_ _
a_______\___.__C____)_________(_(____>__|__/____a_ _
t_______/\_|___C_____)/BLIND\_(_____>__|_/_____ t_ _
s______/_/\|___C_____)ME_WITH|__(___>___/__\____s_ _
e_____|___(____C_____)SCIENCE/__//__/_/_____\___e_ _
x_____|____\__|_____\\_________//_(__/_______|__x_ _
*____|_\____\____)___`----___--'_____________|__*_ _
g____|__\______________\_______/____________/_|_g_ _
o___|______________/____|_____|__\____________|_o_ _
a___|_____________|____/_______\__\___________|_a_ _
t___|__________/_/____|_________|__\___________|t_ _
s___|_________/_/______\__/\___/____|__________|s_ _
e__|_________/_/________|____|_______|_________|e_ _
x__|__________|_________|____|_______|_________|x_ _
*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_


Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Re:Or perhaps... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201575)

Not true.

Science is, in a nutshell, a clearly defined mapping from reality towards a formal structure.

In this sense he is doing science.

Science is the better the simpler the formal structure, compared to the amounts of reality mapped into it.
Theoretical Physics is arguably furthest along this road.

Is it good science? From what I've read of it, no. He maps an emergent phenomenon in reality into an emergent phenomenon in a cellular automata.

However, his CAs provide a wide array of well defined mathematically sound emergent patterns, which have been notoriously elusive. So his approach to match the emergent patterns in mathematics with those in reality does indeed constitute a new kind of science. But it's not good science. And it doesn't show new ways of creating new good science, because there is no understanding involved, no reduction in the structure of reality into simpler formal structures.

Ultimately we are still at the very beginning with understanding emergent structures, and Wolframs book doesn't push the frontier a lot, but his approach is as valid as any other in this area.

-Frank

Re:Or perhaps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201581)

Maybe the data isn't anything new but the way of thinking is, definitly to most scientists. Most scientists couldn't think themselves out of a closed cardboard box and if you were the least bit realistic you'd understand what I am saying.

Wolfram wrote a great book and I personally think it should be required reading for anyone thinking about any research work.

Furthermore in the first few pages he actually says he's not going to be creating the new science but teach you the method to do it.

You get a -1 "braindead" from me. You obvious either did not read the book or it was beyond your understanding of the english language.

Re:Or perhaps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201605)

> He is adamant that there is no God which created everything, yet he points to
> artificial order which could only be created by an intelligent designer.

Fuck off, idiot.

Re:Or perhaps... (1)

drafalski (232178) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201655)

He is adamant that there is no God which created everything, yet he points to artificial order which could only be created by an intelligent designer.


Why would it need to be the work of an intelligent designer? Perhaps this was just one of an immense number of random permutations that, more or less, happened to work?

Re:Or perhaps... (4, Interesting)

russellh (547685) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201685)

I completely agree. My impression was that here we had this prodigy guy, PhD at 15 and all. Success in business, as well, creating his company with its well-regarded math tool. Now then: what to do next? Where does a person like that go? Move to the country and take up a hobby? Unlikely. Seems to me that he just wants his place in history badly.

Christopher Alexander's The Nature of Order [amazon.com] is better in every way. Inspiring, humble before his subject, full of actual insights and examples from the real world, and absolutely beautiful.

Meet the new science... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201391)

...same as the old science. Anyone have the no-registration link?

Thats nice (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201392)

Unfortunately it's a lame book. I want better quality work like what the wikipedia project is doing/trying to do. That is the truly useful stuff.

Question (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201393)

New Science. What's it all about? Is it good, or is it whack?

*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_
g_______________________________________________g_ _
o_/_____\_____________\____________/____\_______o_ _
a|_______|_____________\__________|______|______a_ _
t|_______`._____________|_________|_______:_____t_ _
s`________|_____________|________\|_______|_____s_ _
e_\_______|_/_______/__\\\___--___\\_______:____e_ _
x__\______\/____--~~__________~--__|_\_____|____x_ _
*___\______\_-~____________________~-_\____|____*_ _
g____\______\_________.--------.______\|___|____g_ _
o______\_____\______//_________(_(__>__\___|____o_ _
a_______\___.__C____)_________(_(____>__|__/____a_ _
t_______/\_|___C_____)/BLIND_\_(_____>__|_/_____t_ _
s______/_/\|___C_____)ME_WITH|__(___>___/__\____s_ _
e_____|___(____C_____)\SCIENCE/_//__/_/_____\___e_ _
x_____|____\__|_____\\_________//_(__/_______|__x_ _
*____|_\____\____)___`----___--'_____________|__*_ _
g____|__\______________\_______/____________/_|_g_ _
o___|______________/____|_____|__\____________|_o_ _
a___|_____________|____/_______\__\___________|_a_ _
t___|__________/_/____|_________|__\___________|t_ _
s___|_________/_/______\__/\___/____|__________|s_ _
e__|_________/_/________|____|_______|_________|e_ _
x__|__________|_________|____|_______|_________|x_ _
*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_


Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Important Stuff: Please try to keep posts on topic. Try to reply to other people's comments instead of starting new threads. Read other people's messages before posting your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said. Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about. Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page) If you want replies to your comments sent to you, consider logging in or creating an account.

Perhaps (4, Funny)

BeemanH2O (718832) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201396)

"Perhaps Wolfram is giving back to the scientific community; perhaps it is simply clever marketing for a framework that is beginning to gain momentum.

Perhaps he's trying to make himself look like less of an asshole.

Re:Perhaps (1)

hcg50a (690062) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201664)

Newton was an asshole. Is Wolfram trying to distance himself from Newton?

Lisence (0, Offtopic)

after (669640) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201400)

I cant access the website here at school, TIES for some reason blocks it (pornogrophy), could someone tell me what lisence this is posted on?

If its the Commons license, then, ugh, cool and stuff...

Neat marketing ... (4, Insightful)

fygment (444210) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201402)

... because printing out the book would cost much more than the book itself.

A forum at the site for peer review would be nice. Then the issues of credit for work and contentious elements of the theory could be debated dynamically and publicly. Of course maybe it exists already. Can't get to the site at the moment.

Re:Neat marketing ... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201541)

Any moron who makes arguments regarding global warming by saying, "It's cold outside." has no background in science. You are a fucking moron and I hope you get diarrhea today.

Re:Neat marketing ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201630)

That's why you print it out at work. ^^

I've seen him talk (5, Interesting)

Snosty (210966) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201404)

I've been to a lecture by Wolfram and it was disappointingly low-level. He touched on many interesting subjects but unfortunately didn't delve deep enough to make the lecture really very worthwhile. All in all it seemed like a marketing gimmic to sell his book and software.

The only good part about the whole thing was the completely misguided people asking him truly bizarre questions at the end of the lecture. It was really amusing to see him struggle to answer some truly retarded questions.

Re:I've seen him talk (4, Interesting)

Otter (3800) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201647)

I heard him talk, also, but didn't bother to slog through that book. My impression was that, yes, cellular automata can produce things that resemble naturally occurring structures, but he never addressed the issue of whether CA-like mechanisms are actually responsible. It's been recognized for decades (since Turing, at the least) that simple rules can generate complexity, and yet we still get self-promoter after self-promoter showing off some bifurcated graphic and annoucing that he's solved the mystery of life and the universe.

Incidentally, what's with that "taking advantage of a lot of other people's work for his sole financial gain and that he was going against the open nature of academia by using restrictive copyright"? If he failed to give proper credit (I have no idea if he did or didn't) that's equally wrong regardless of what terms the text is published under. Free distribution isn't a remedy for plagiarism and where on earth did the submitter get the idea that academics don't normally publish under copyright?

As for his motivation, that's easy. He genuinely thinks he's solved everything and he wants to broadcast it as widely as possible.

New Kind of What? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201408)

Prof. Eugene Wigner said it best in his evaluation of a Professor giving a talk at Princeton: "Well Sir that talk was certainly New and Interesting, however what was New is not Interesting and what was Interesting was not New." I think that certainly applies to this book.

KERRY WANTS NATIONAL ID CARDS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201413)

National ID Card - One of the most pervasive themes of the 104th Congress has
been proposals to establish a national identification system as a means of tracking
undocumented workers, so-called deadbeat dads and to monitor health insurance
information. Various database schemes have been included in bills as diverse as
immigration, welfare reform and health insurance. Since these proposals have been
buried in much larger legislation, it was often difficult to determine the position
of members of Congress. In the House, however, an attempt to eliminate a national
ID system from the immigration bill failed by a vote of 159 to 260. A similar
attempt in the Senate failed by a vote of 46 to 54.

Kerry voted FOR this

Kerry is #1 in the Senate for taking Lobbying Money [washingtonpost.com]

Of course he did He is a democRAT (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201481)

They have the edge,although not the monopoly, on destroying our civil liberties in America.

Not Interested (5, Insightful)

Rick and Roll (672077) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201421)

Sure, Wolfram may be a very successful entrepeneur, but that does not qualify him as an expert in the field of science or as a writer. The ratings at Amazon.com are very low. I don't think that this book is a big release, I think it is just an experiment.

He may be a smart guy, but I think he might just be recycling old material and calling it the Next Big Thing (TM). Again, I won't find out unless this book catches on, because most of my book purchases are by word of mouth or by trusted source (sorry, Slashdot, you do not fit into this category), and if it's going to get to me and my small circle of friends and acquiantences, it had better start selling.

But good luck to the guy. At least he's writing a book, rather than writing all of his prose in Slashdot comments!

Re:Not Interested (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201652)

> Sure, Wolfram may be a very successful entrepeneur, but that does not qualify
> him as an expert in the field of science or as a writer.

Hey, it worked for Jon Katz. Totally illsuited for a technical forum such as SlashDot. What happened there? Some marketing dweeb said "ah, but we need to get non-technical people in, so we have at least a few readers stupid enough to fall for the wretched tat our advertisers are trying to shift"? Is he still writing for Slashdot? I've had my Katz-filter on for years now, so I've not seem his typing here since one of his pieces of output was posted in the wrong category.

Re:Not Interested (1)

chaoticset (574254) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201676)

He may be a smart guy, but I think he might just be recycling old material and calling it the Next Big Thing (TM). Again, I won't find out unless this book catches on, because most of my book purchases are by word of mouth or by trusted source...
Um, actually, the whole book's available online, for free. It's up there in the story you replied to.

Cellular Automata for /. effect? (0)

4sheez (719503) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201429)

I wonder if Wolfram has come up with a CA to describe the massive slashdotting he is currently receiving...

Actually I wrote it all-Al Gore (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201443)

I invented science and took the initiative in creating matter and energy.
Too bad I was dumb enough to endorse Howard Dean but then I was the DUMB one in the 2000 election you know.

Either way a good thing (1, Informative)

CrimeDoggy (710126) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201449)

There was a lot of hype when this book came out, and then some backlash. The $45 plus to get it is a big barrier to jump for the average science junkie, let alone 'core geek. Getting it online for free kills that problem. As for the questions raised in the book, and more so the questions _about_ the material, a little peer review never hurt. Now anyone can access this work and start judging!

Oh yeah... (3, Insightful)

TerryAtWork (598364) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201450)


I remember THAT book. That's the book where Wolfram compares himself to Newton in the first paragraph of the introduction.

Wolfram is a great math pro, but the only way he could help Newton is to shine his shoes.

It's like the von Neumann bottleneck, where 10 % of the code is run 90 % of the time. Truth be told, the REAL von Neumann bottleneck is that only 10 % of computer scientists are even 90 % as smart as von Neumann.

Re:Oh yeah... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201735)

Truth be told, the REAL von Neumann bottleneck is that only 10 % of computer scientists are even 90 % as smart as von Neumann.
I think you overestimate us computer scientists.
AC

Don't get locked in! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201455)

I hear Wolfram's Science.NEW only runs on the English-language platform.

I'm voting for clever marketing (5, Insightful)

syphax (189065) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201458)

Props to Wolfram for this, but it looks like clever marketing- as far as I can tell, you can't, say, download a pdf of a chapter; you pretty much have to go page by page. So on a practical level, it's a big ad.

Also, you need Mathematica to run the programs.

So, if you get hooked by the online text, Wolfram can count on 1 book sale, and maybe 1 Mathematica license (if, like me, you don't study/work somewhere with a site license).

Re:I'm voting for clever marketing (2, Funny)

chaoticset (574254) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201573)

...as far as I can tell, you can't, say, download a pdf of a chapter; you pretty much have to go page by page...

Just means that your spider is forced to go slowly. NBD. :)

Re:I'm voting for clever marketing (1)

syphax (189065) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201711)

That's true, for some percentage of the target audience, this is not a problem.

But the site is not intended to make for easy reading (which I define, for example, as chapters downloadable in pdf).

So What's the Deal? (2, Troll)

StormyMonday (163372) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201460)

A cellular automaton is simply a description of a discrete differential equation. Since physical laws are described in terms of differential equations to start with, it's not surprising that a cellular automaton can model a physical process.

So what's the deal? Outside of Wolfram's ego, of course.

Re:So What's the Deal? (2, Insightful)

Rhubarb Crumble (581156) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201653)

A cellular automaton is simply a description of a discrete differential equation. Since physical laws are described in terms of differential equations to start with, it's not surprising that a cellular automaton can model a physical process.

So what's the deal? Outside of Wolfram's ego, of course.

The "deal" is that he's trying to appear cutting edge and jump the genetics/bioscience bandwagon by using biological metaphors. That's all there is to the book, as far as I can tell.

Re:So What's the Deal? (2, Interesting)

erixtark (413840) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201695)

Emergent properties of complex systems. That's the deal.

You might as well have written "a neuron is simply a cell, connected to other similar cells, that responds to input and generates output". It's true, but it's irrelevant. Put 20 billions neurons together, however, and things start to get interesting.

But what do I know. My brain haven't read the book yet.

worth the money (5, Interesting)

Urd (198177) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201495)

As someone who owns and has read that book, I say it was definitly worth the money even if it was just a collection of other people's work. The point is ANKOS complete and insightfull. It actually says something specific, which is more then we can say about plenty of books hailed by the noobs. I think the man deserves some compensation for the work put forth even if it was only collecting and copywriting he saved me from a long journey to learn from his insights.

Are we forgetting about something... (5, Informative)

killermal (545771) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201501)

Anyone who is a visitor of Wolfram MathWorld [wolfram.com] or ScienceWorld [wolfram.com] will recognize the invaluable contribution that Wolfram has made to the scientific community. From a personal perspective without MathWorld sometimes I would be completely lost...

Re:Are we forgetting about something... (4, Informative)

Gyan (6853) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201576)


I'm not sure how much has been updated, but Wolfram simply purchased Eric Weisstein's collection pf "Treasure Trove" sites and renamed as [subject]World.

A Good Step Forward (4, Insightful)

YukioMishima (205721) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201504)

Wolfram's broad sharing of his work, while still limited (you still need an internet connection, at least momentarily, to save or print it) is a terrific step forward in sharing information with a broader audience that may be interested in his work. I was one of the purchasers of his book when it was first published, but it was expensive enough (even while heavily subsidized by Wolfram himself) that not everyone who was interested could find a copy.


By publishing on-line, Wolfram does something courageous as well - rather than simply submitting his work to academia and using their vetting procedure, he's opening up his work for criticism from a much, much wider body of critics. Forums like /. give us the opportunity to discuss the merits of his work - by the end of today, there will be many critiques of his work on this page, and everyone who takes the time to read those will come away from the discussion with many different perspectives that they might never have stumbled upon.


It's true that Wolfram has his own agenda to push here, and it might be compared to self-publishing a newspaper that only focuses on what you want, but one could argue that about nearly anything that's published, and I'd rather have the material disseminated so that I can read it and come to my own conclusions.

Re:A Good Step Forward (1)

nojomofo (123944) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201591)

rather than simply submitting his work to academia and using their vetting procedure, he's opening up his work for criticism from a much, much wider body of critics

Yeah, because releasing scientific knowledge to the public/press without allowing for proper peer review first always works best. Just ask Pons and Fleischmann.

Bloated HYpe (2, Interesting)

linuxislandsucks (461335) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201524)

Considering that Stephen refused for public discourse and review of an alledged scientific work and now is whining that his critics are worng..

Maybe this work shoulde be burned in the fireplace where it belongs

this book is pure sheit (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201526)

heh. just go read the amazon.com reviews.

the book has nothing to do with science and everything to do with Wolfram navel gazaing about his own brilliance.

go and read a few chapters, you will see that every second paragraph contains the sentences " I discovered this, and I discovered that, and I'm oh so fuking brilliant" types of statements.

this is nothing more than the masturbation of a pathetic adult male with a very high I.Q. and very low emotional development.

he truly and desperately wants to believe that he is the next einstein.

pathetic.

It's not the money, it's the claims (4, Insightful)

YouHaveSnail (202852) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201528)

he raised the suspicions of many in scientific communities that he was taking advantage of a lot of other people's work for his sole financial gain and that he was going against the open nature of academia by using restrictive copyright.

I think the thing that offended most people is that Wolfram seemed to be taking credit for other people's ideas. And also, he comes off as being tremendously pompous. He hid away for ten or more years, then comes out with a book claiming, as per the title, to have invented an entirely new way to solve problems. What's he got? Algorithms and cellular automata.

IN SOVIET RUSSIA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201542)

Science creates a new kind of YOU!

Before anybody complains about Wolfram's book, (5, Interesting)

DeepDarkSky (111382) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201543)

I say, RTFB (Book). What!? You haven't? It's too damn big? Well go read it and THEN come back and complain.

On the other hand, I think that people's attitude toward his work is not a problem of the merit of the his work. Rather, it is the way he seemed so self-important when pointing out something that seems deceptively simple that many people have covered before (Cellular Automata).

The universe is not governed by vastly complicated equations wrought by the human mind. And Wolfram pointing that out simply offended people who believed otherwise.

However (-1, Redundant)

nodata2 (629553) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201554)

they seem to need a new kind of server

Amazon Reviews (1)

tr0llb4rt0 (742153) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201555)

Please take time to read the reviews on the Amazon link.

Whilst I'll attempt to read the online version I'll not be buying a copy.

Possibly after this sort of feed back Wolfram decided that on-line is the only way to get folks to read it.

Re:Amazon Reviews (1)

tr0llb4rt0 (742153) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201625)

Well I'll try and read it once the /.tsunami has finished with the site :-)

review (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201589)

I wish I could find the original source, but the best review I saw of the book was along the lines of "It is a scary example of what happens when serious megalomania is combined with bad sh*t insanity."

I saw Wolfram speak shortly after the book came out, and it was almost laughable. He made a sequence of sweeping generalizations and, so far as I could tell, backed none of them up.

That said, there is some useful stuff in the book (albeit, not all contributed by Wolfram) but it is a beautiful example of why the standard process of peer review and sharing work with your colleagues is a good idea. Wolfram did neither of these things and the book is the poorer for it.

A rare blend indeed... (5, Funny)

levell (538346) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201594)

That's the book that was described [umich.edu] by one researcher as: "A rare blend of monster raving egomania and utter batshit insanity" which when I first read it made me laugh out loud. I haven't read the book so I don't know how accurate it is.

Re:A rare blend indeed... (1)

HardCase (14757) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201666)

That's the book that was described by one researcher as: "A rare blend of monster raving egomania and utter batshit insanity" which when I first read it made me laugh out loud. I haven't read the book so I don't know how accurate it is.


I've read it. It's sitting here on my desk. I bought it when it first came out (and saw it at my local Barnes and Noble a week or so ago for about ten bucks). That review is pretty accurate.


On the bright side, it makes a pretty solid bookend.


-h-

Re:A rare blend indeed... (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201672)

Any researcher who writes off someone of Wolframs calibre with such juvenille insults either is jealous , didn't understand any of it or has issues.
Whether the book is right or wrong its not "batshit" just because other people don't agree with it. Didn't they say something roughly similar about Galileo, Da Vinci, Newton, Darwin, Einstein etc
originally?

ms ad (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201600)

Heh, i just got a "MS cheaper than linux" ad that annoyed me so much I installed an ad blocker. Now i see no ads at all -- its great. Thanks MS

Taking advantage of others works? (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201604)

"suspicions of many in scientific communities that he was taking advantage of a lot of other people's work for his sole financial gain "

Umm ,yes , but so what? Doesn't that describe virtually every non fiction book (and a lot of fiction books too) every published? Everyone
derives their knowledge from what has been discovered or created by people before. Any scientist who could write a science book WITHOUT referencing
other peoples ideas or work would probably deserve a clutch of nobel prizes.

Re:Taking advantage of others works? (1)

bfree (113420) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201696)

Doesn't that describe virtually every program every distributed? Everyone derives their knowledge from what has been discovered or created by people before. Any programmer who could write a program WITHOUT referencing other peoples ideas or work would probably deserve a clutch of nobel prizes.

To me the core argument for Free Software and against Software Patents!

Re:Taking advantage of others works? (1)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201742)

Wtf are you talking about? You got an issue with people charging for software? If so maybe you should go find some nice communist state to live in. Open Source is fine so long as its
voluntary but people should not be EXPECTED to make something they've spent perhaps years developing free just because other people who are too lazy or stupid to reproduce the work themselves
resent having to pay.

Re:Taking advantage of others works? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201744)

True, but A New Kind of Science doesn't even have a bibliography to point out the work on which Wolfram drew.

Wolfram is the new Einstein? (0, Troll)

Kardamon (54123) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201617)

Wolfram probebly thought he could do the same trick with celular automata as Einstein with the theory of relativity: rewrite a lot of stuff without references and everybody will believe it is original and a work of genius?

Re:Wolfram is the new Einstein? (1)

kin_korn_karn (466864) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201682)

nice troll. I mean that as a compliment :)

MAD MOD POINTS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201620)

How come I got Mod points EVERY OTHER FREAKING DAY???? One of you sonofabitch Slashdot slackers isn't pulling his own WEIGHT!!!!!!!

positive step for scientific writing (3, Informative)

guacamolefoo (577448) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201639)

Perhaps Wolfram is giving back to the scientific community; perhaps it is simply clever marketing for a framework that is beginning to gain momentum. For any matter, the entire encyclopedic volume is online, and this appears to be a positive step for scientific writing.

Nope. This [plosbiology.org] is a positive step for scientific writing.

GF.

A New Kind of Science (4, Interesting)

hackus (159037) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201641)

Well,

I understand everyone has to make a living. When I read his work, I was interested in his unique view that complexity arises from simplicity and that he had combined a large field into a view of complexity all his own.

The insights are fascinating, especially the ability to build computational systems with simple repeating rules....(i.e. multiplication tables...etc.) from graphical representations.

The biggest disappointment is that he didn't provide enough practical research in testable form in the book to double check his experiments, some of them very heavily numerical in composition, which would require a lot of programming to confirm.

My biggest problem is that he uses a $1500-$3000 dollar Mathematics tool, he says he invented himself, that he profits from, to confirm his research.

That I do find a bit hard to swallow, including the license required to run Mathematica.

Science shouldn't operate on the principle of PAY to play. Anyone should have access to any and all information for free.

The labor to create it however, should not be free, and we have plenty of avenues in the free market place to do that just like Open Source Software companies have shown such as RedHat.

The book does give a very large impression that Mr. Wolfram discovered these things all by himself...you have to follow the booknotes to find out who's shoulders he is standing on.

In the end, he is sort of like a Newton who is focusing the worlds attention on the fundamentals of complex systems theory and what it is, and how we can use it to improve the scientific method. He is using a large amount of research though that many have contrinuted too.

My .02.

-Hack

thinking this is crap? (2, Insightful)

Urd (198177) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201656)

Well I got news for you: most of you also said Einstein was full of it and then said the same of Heisenberg. Just look under your fingers to see the proof these guys' theories at work. All this kind of people are saying is that _themselves_ are incapable of understanding the conceptual change, and that by consequence nobody else will either. This is a lot like saying you don't understand Pythagoras' theorem and then going on to say it's crap. I have to say how much I really admire those people *not*!!

Re:thinking this is crap? (0, Troll)

mgessner (46612) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201763)

Look, Dr Wolfram, that's all very nice.
But when you post on slashdot, would you please use your real name?
kthx

I read the whole book (1, Interesting)

unigeek (663856) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201658)

When the book was published I heard alot of talk about the author. I personally never knew anything about him until this book (well I heard in passing he created Mathimatica). I am no expert in the field, but the book was still an interesting read. I do not believe a million pages were necessary to express what he is saying. If you read the first half of the book you will get the point of what is saying. Then use the other half to heat your house for the rest of the winter. He did talk about himself alot in the book, which I did not appreciate. It is a "BIG" book. Note to author -- Let history make you famous, grrrr. Now Google is going to index this book and see how he refers to himeself a million times and get ranked number one for the given topic.

this guy ... (3, Funny)

Glog (303500) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201700)

... is a *humble* genius. Read it and weep (page 1, 1st chapter):

For what I have found is that with the new kind of science I have developed it suddenly becomes possible to make progress on a remarkable range of fundamental issues that have never successfully been addressed by any of the exisiting sciences before.

ohhh, WolfRAM... (2, Funny)

mobiux (118006) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201701)

For a second I thought the wolfman was making a come back.

Totally ready for the weekend.

But do the senior partners approve? (4, Funny)

Channard (693317) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201709)

And when can we expect the announcement of his new book, co-written with Viktor Hart, full time mad scientist and re-animator?

This is not how science works... (4, Insightful)

Aardpig (622459) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201736)

From one of the links [wikipedia.org] discussing Wolfram's use of others' work:

In the 1990's Matthew Cook served as a research assistant to Stephen Wolfram , where among other things he was directed to develop a proof showing that the Rule 110 cellular automaton is Turing-complete . Under non-disclosure until the publication of Stephen Wolfram's A New Kind of Science, Cook nevertheless presented his proof at a Santa Fe Institute conference. Subsequently, it was stricken from the published proceedings by court order.

This really highlights what a megalomaniac Wolfram is. While he may be remembered after his death, I imagine it will be for his insufferable ego, not for his scientific achievements.

Oh, and regarding Mathematica: its use by students should be banned until they are able to outperform it in terms of mathematical sophistication. Its overuse in universities is leading to an intellectually-stunted generation.

In case of slashdotting? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201738)

Isn't anyone going to post the whole text here?

Which **AA is next (2)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201767)

Hmmmmmm

"...he raised the suspicions of many in scientific communities that he was taking advantage of a lot of other people's work for his sole financial gain and that he was going against the open nature of academia by using restrictive copyright."
"Perhaps Wolfram is giving back to the scientific community; perhaps it is simply clever marketing for a framework that is beginning to gain momentum."

So what organization will Random House et al cobble together, dress up in flight jackets and use to break into every nerdy teenagers bedroom? What happens when the RIAA thugs and the Book thugs show up at the same place at the same time? Do tehy fight for dibs on the kids piggy bank? Now that I'd like to see.

Lesson for everyone here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8201774)

Even a genius can let his ego lead him to idiocy.

I only had to spend about 5 minutes flipping through ANKOS before finding a truly offensive passage. He claimed that, previous to him, mathematicians believed that certain types of behavior of functions were not possible, but that his proofs show that they are possible. But mathematicians had shown that the behavior was possible and had given examples (forgive me for forgetting the precise details). His claim was wrong and easily checkable. But in his arrogance, he didn't bother to check it. This is an insult to the mathematicians whom he essentially libeled.

He probably talked to very few people while writing this book. That way, he could claim credit for all of it-- after all, who did Newton work with? But science and math is best done within a network of other researchers. If you don't, you might wind up with stupidity like ANKOS.

he is also ... (1)

Glog (303500) | more than 10 years ago | (#8201779)

... quite the looker [comdex.com]
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