Some time ago, I have received the book of Stephen Wolfram – Adventures of Computational Explorer for a review. Stephen is the guy behind WolframAlpha – https://www.wolframalpha.com/, a PhD in physics before his 21. birthday, considered a prodigy by some people. His book gave me the opportunity to take a look inside his mind and see how are “things” structured there.
The book consists out of 25 independent essay-like stories, which could be pretty interesting, if you are a fan of Sheldon Cooper or you are planning to date a girl/guy like him and they need to be impressed. Jokes aside, the book is written in a personal touch, telling you stories from author’s life that non-scientists can understand. E.g. when he was in kindergarten in Oxford and was the only one who managed to see a solar eclipse. And although he showed it to many of his 6-year-old mates, noone believed him. Bit it was there – https://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=eclipse+1966. This taught him the valuable lesson, that the wisdom of the crowd is not always wise:
When they find out that people don’t agree with something that seems obvious to them, many people will just conclude that they’re the ones who are wrong. That even though it seems obvious to them, the “crowd” must be right, and they themselves must somehow be confused. Fifty years ago today I learned that wasn’t true. Perhaps it made me more obstinate, but I could list quite a few pieces of science and technology that I rather suspect wouldn’t exist today if it hadn’t been for that kindergarten experience of mine.
His own stories, are actually quite fun – from the moment he was asked to compute all the visualisation from an Alien’s spaceship, (whole essay is on author’s blog) including their language, the displays, etc to the moment when he first heard “Trust me, I know what I am doing” from a 5-year-old girl holding a hammer, missing a nail and hitting author’s thumb. Interesting stories concerning making computer music and passing the analog of the Turing test for music follow each other.
While reading the stories, you learn some useful insights – e.g. what is a design review and why is it important in software development. Was 10K hours of design review a waste of time? What are the challenges in making quantum neural blockchain AI?
The contents of the book are the present below. If you search them in Google, you would most probably find the original article in the author’s blog:
- Quick, How Might the Alien Spacecraft Work?
- My Hobby: Hunting for Our Universe
- Showing Off to the Universe: Beacons for the Afterlife of Our Civilization
- Pi or Pie?! Celebrating Pi Day of the Century
- What Is Ultimately Possible in Physics?
- My Life in Technology—As Told at the Computer History Museum
- Something I Learned in Kindergarten
- Music, Mathematica, and the Computational Universe
- Ten Thousand Hours of Design Reviews
- What Should We Call the Language of Mathematica?
- What Do I Do All Day? Livestreamed Technology CEOing
- The Story of Spikey
- Advance of the Data Civilization: A Timeline
- Data Science of the Facebook World
- A Short Talk on AI Ethics
- Overcoming Artificial Stupidity
- Scientific Bug Hunting in the Cloud
- The Practical Business of Ontology: A Tale from the Front Lines
- The Poetry of Function Naming
- Buzzword Convergence: Making Sense of Quantum Neural Blockchain AI
- Oh My Gosh, It’s Covered in Rule 30s!
- The Personal Analytics of My Life
- Seeking the Productive Life: Some Details of My Personal Infrastrcture
- A Precociousness Record (Almost) Broken
- A Speech for (High School) Graduates
Take a look at the essays and enjoy them with a cup of tea/coffee. It is like listening to Sheldon Cooper and the other guys from the Big Bang Theory show. I mean it in a nice way 🙂