Stephen Wolfram Q&A

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Some collected questions and answers by Stephen Wolfram

Questions may be edited for brevity; see links for full questions.

July 7, 2002

From: Interview by Loch Adamson, The New York Times

What kinds of scientific contributions might come about in response to your book? And when do you think we might see them?

I’m probably more nervous about people trying to apply what I’ve done in the book too quickly, rather than too slowly. It would be bizarre if my attempts to sort of change the direction of quite a bit of science were, you know, immediately absorbed and understood by people who had spent decades working in some different direction. In academia, there is this common statement: new ideas have either been done before, or they’re wrong, or both. And it’s kind of charming to me that people send mail about some things in my book, say, “We’ve said this before”.

But I don’t think they’ve understood what I’ve said. In fact, if they did understand, their first response would be, “That can’t be right”. People’s responses are being documented in a very obvious way. There are newsgroups and postings. I find it rather interesting. But so far, I’m just collecting the data. The thing one learns about the history of science is that these things take awhile. And one waits.

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