The universe works like a big computer program

The universe works like a big computer program – Big Think Skip to content
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Technological innovator Stephen Wolfram argues that the universe could work less like a mathematical equation and more like a computer program, demonstrating extremely complex behavior that could be based on relatively simple lines of natural code.

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Ever since Isaac Newton, physicists have sought mathematical equations to explain the behavior of the universe. On many fronts, the effort was successful. However, many extraterrestrial phenomena escape the influence of the equations. Technological innovator Stephen Wolfram argues that the universe could work less like a mathematical equation and more like a computer program, demonstrating extremely complex behavior that could be based on relatively simple lines of natural code. What exactly those fundamental lines of code are, says Wolfram, is the job of the technologist.

What’s the big idea?

Wolfram’s idea, which is not accepted by a majority of physicists, is that computer code models nature better than singular mathematical equations. “[The] Idea came out of his work showing how simple programs called cellular automata could reproduce the structure of objects like snowflakes or leaves. In Wolfram’s view, the 21st century will be of particular significance as the power of software design will be fully realized. “TThe age of computing that began in the 20th century will provide us with more than the Internet, personal gadgets, etc. – it could also help to answer major existential and scientific questions.

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