That’s not an argument against the theory, at most it’s an argument against his “paper-writing skills” or supposed narcissism. Wolfram starts with simple mathematical rules, and sees what kinds of structures they create. If that gets your crackpot klaxons blaring, yeah, me too. So that’s why I wrote the comment directed at him. Have you found The Rule for the universe? Quantum mechanics and general relativity—both introduced more than a century ago—have delivered many impressive successes in physics. So I should probably give him a fair reading. Not the person who did say something at least a bit substantive (which you apparently didn’t read, since you didn’t know whether I had read the piece I explicitly based it on), not the person who was more insulting, but the person who spent most of their comment complaining that they felt alone. In sum, the universe is the way it is, and we’ll figure it out sooner, later, or never. The phenomenon of computational irreducibility makes it difficult to determine the complete consequences of any given rule. Almost all of my work is coded in Mathematica, and while it has some flaws (can someone please speed up the linear solver? He picks out a particular “flux of causal edges”, one that corresponds to “just going forward in time”, and defines it as mass. After decades of studying cellular automata, Wolfram along with two other physicists came up with the idea that the fundamental rules of physics were beginning to evolve from smaller, less-meaningful rules, sort of like how larger structures grow from simpler steps in the cellular automata he was studying. It worries me, because both as a physicist and a blogger, he really should know better. What’s so hard about Quantum Field Theory anyway? I am sorry to see journalists cover this, which will surely get more press than anything any barrier-breaking black scientist does this year.”, CalTech physicist Sean Carrol tweeted: “Stephen Wolfram and collaborators propose a new approach to physics based on discrete automata. Here’s the background. I get that it’s irritating when a crackpot gets mainstream attention. 13 thoughts on “ The Wolfram Physics Project Makes Me Queasy ” Anonymous Chicken April 17, 2020 at 3:03 pm. But even then, most of it is knee-jerk bullshit and he lays on the “crackpot” insults too thick. But since the creator of the model (Stephen Wolfram) already has a doctorate in physics and probably since long before Anonymous Chicken was even born, the fact that he’s a graduate physics student is irrelevant; or, at worst, it devalues his opinion if you want to play the credentials/fallacy-from-authority game. What’s A Graviton? With more background, you get more skeptical: you know the standard objections, how one philosophy argues against another’s claims. In addition, we expect connections to many existing directions in physics and mathematics. John Conway’s Game of Life is the perhaps most famous example of cellular automata, where after each successive time unit, pixels turn on or off based on how many pixels are on or off around them, causing complex shapes and behaviours to arise from basic rules. I believe you there are communities being taken in by it, but maybe you can take comfort in that, even when a crackpot gets more attention than the real physicists, it doesn’t change what the real physicists work on. For now, I’ll just say that I probably shouldn’t have read a 90 page pop physics treatise before lunch, and end the post with that. I came across this article precisely because I was looking for actual criticism against his theory and all I can find is vague, knee-jerk, weak-sauce reactionary stuff like his comment (no offense). For example, it suggests that space is fundamentally discrete, rather than continuous. Privacy Policy. Anonymous Chicken said even less; with more frustration and even with at tint of fallacy from authority (although it’s true, maybe it’s “even me, a lowly student, can tell it’s bullshit”). “Not optimistic” isn’t the same as “know he’s wrong”. Wolfram has presented one idea as to how it works, but the only footing it has over other proposals is the fact that a wealthy and famous guy came up with it and therefore has the resources to draft people to see if it works. In other words, you probably wouldn’t be hearing about this new “fundamental theory of physics” if a black woman had devised it. There’s his tendency to name, or rename, things after himself. But since we are connecting with existing theoretical physics, understanding the technical details requires understanding technical details of existing theoretical physics, often at a research or advanced graduate level. The blog post announcing the project explains that he and his collaborators claim to have “found a path to to the fundamental theory of physics,” that they’ve “built a paradigm and framework,” and that they now need help with all of the computation to see if it works. All physics faculty are too busy to write a thorough response, and too smart to … Yes, I wish to receive exclusive discounts, special offers and competitions from our partners. I’m left wondering whether he meant to mislead, or whether instead he’s misleading himself. But they come down to the fact that Wolfram has isolated himself from the physics community, self-publishes his work, and promotes it to a large audience without submitting it to a formal peer-review process.