May 7, 2020

Scientists Aren’t Buying a Tech CEO’s “Theory of Everything”


Compiling Code

Last month, Wolfram Research CEO Stephen Wolfram published a 448-page paper that he claims creates a “path to the fundamental theory of physics.” Basically, Wolfram claims to have created a theory of everything.

But scientists aren’t convinced.

The main issue is that Wolfram’s ideas are too computational: they treat the universe and the laws of physics like a computer running lines of code, scientists told Scientific American. For now, physicists seem content sticking to their tried-and-true theories, which they say are more accurate than Wolfram’s.

Take Two

Wolfram actually first presented his idea in the 2002 book “A New Kind of Science,” which was well-received by the public, but didn’t sway the actual physics community.

“I do fault myself for not having done this 20 years ago,” Wolfram told SciAm. “To be fair, I also fault some people in the physics community for trying to prevent it happening 20 years ago. They were successful.”

Missing Pieces

While Wolfram’s assertion that simple computational rules can describe the vast complexity of the universe is compelling, physicists say it doesn’t explain much of what they know about how the universe works.

“So far I see no indication that this could be done using the simple kinds of [computational rules] advocated by Wolfram,” MIT physicist Daniel Harlow told SciAm. “The successes he claims are, at best, qualitative.”

READ MORE: Physicists Criticize Stephen Wolfram’s ‘Theory of Everything’ [Scientific American]

More on physics: Michio Kaku Thinks We’ll Prove the “Theory of Everything” by 2100



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