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.

December 18, 2019

From: Interview by Guy Kawasaki, Remarkable People Podcast

Growing up, did you play any sports? Were you just a nerd?

I didn’t do sports. I actually had elaborate schemes for avoiding doing sports. For example, cricket was a big thing, and the few times I ended up playing cricket I discovered that cricket has this thing called overs: when the whole field is reflected, and people change their positions, perhaps because they’re getting so damn bored standing around. I discovered that there were these positions that were invariant with respect to those over things, so you could just stay in one place and hang out there.

I remember the one time a friend of mine got me to be in some sort of cricket team-type thing, I discovered that… in cricket, you’re supposed to throw a ball in this overhand crazy thing where it’s very hard to get it to aim correctly, but if you just roll the ball along the ground and line it up, you can actually get it to go more-or-less in the right direction. I did that once, and the person who was batting, the ball just slid underneath their bat and got them out.

They were like, “You can’t do that”. “Is it against the rules to throw the ball along the ground?” “No, it’s not, but…” this person said with great emotion… “it’s not cricket”. That’s a phrase that’s commonly used: “That’s not cricket”. I actually got to hear it in real life in a relevant setting, just once.

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