In a nutshell: Launching the project in the midst of a global pandemic may seem almost “disrespectful” (his words, not mine), but according to Wolfram, he also thought it could serve as an “intellectual distraction.” And remember, Newton conducted some of his best work while under quarantine during the bubonic plague. Perhaps today’s modern minds – and by proxy, physics – can also benefit from a bit of isolation?
Renowned physicist Stephen Wolfram has launched a crowdsourced project to help identify the fundamental theory of physics and could use your input.
In an extensive blog post on the subject, Wolfram concedes that he doesn’t know if it’s going to take a month, a year, a decade or a century to “find the specific rule for our universe” but admits that just a few months ago, he didn’t even know if he had the right framework for finding it. “But I wouldn’t say that anymore,” he noted.
A lifelong physicist, Wolfram earned a PhD in particle physics from the California Institute of Technology at the age of 20. In 2002, he published A New Kind of Science, a best-selling book on computational systems. He would later go on to launch Wolfram Alpha, a computational knowledge engine (or answer engine) that has been used to power search engines like Microsoft Bing and DuckDuckGo.
His success in the field of computational language forced some of his other interests to take a back seat. Last summer, however, two young physicists attending Wolfram’s annual summer school convinced him that he should further pursue his search for a truly fundamental theory of physics.
Hence, the Wolfram Physics Project was born.
Those interested in delving deeper into the project – and perhaps even contributing – can head over to the Wolfram Physics Project website to get started. There, you’ll find a primer on the project as well as a registry of notable universe models, a discussion form and several other resources.