It’s unexpected, surprising—and for me incredibly exciting. To be fair, at some level I’ve been working towards this for nearly 50 years. But it’s just in the last few months that it’s finally come together. And it’s much more wonderful, and beautiful, than I’d ever imagined.
In many ways it’s the ultimate question in natural science: How does our universe work? Is there a fundamental theory? An incredible amount has been figured out about physics over the past few hundred years. But even with everything that’s been done—and it’s very impressive—we still, after all this time, don’t have a truly fundamental theory of physics.
OK, so what do we need to do now? I’m thrilled to say that I think we’ve found a path to the fundamental theory of physics. We’ve built a paradigm and a framework (and, yes, we’ve built lots of good, practical, computational tools too). But now we need to finish the job. We need to work through a lot of complicated computation, mathematics and physics. And see if we can finally deliver the answer to how our universe fundamentally works… Stephen Wolfram, “Finally We May Have a Path to the Fundamental Theory of Physics… and It’s Beautiful” at Wolfram Writings
Heady. Another view:
It is absolutely possible that Wolfram has stumbled upon a deeper truth about the universe. But at the moment, he’s just another physicist with an idea. This idea should be taken as skeptically as any other that claims to explain the entire universe, meaning outside experts should check that it doesn’t contain glaring errors. Any strong hypothesis should be able to tell us something new and testable about the universe. While a Q+A on the matter says that the theory produces testable predictions, it also contains a worrying statement: Basically, Wolfram says that his idea cannot be proven wrong, writing that “Any particular rule could be proved wrong by disagreeing with observations, for example predicting particles that do not exist. But the overall framework of our models is something more general, and not as directly amenable to experimental falsification. Asking how to falsify our framework is similar to asking how one would prove that calculus could not be a model for physics. An obvious answer would be another model successfully providing a fundamental theory of physics, and being proved incompatible.” In other words, Wolfram is saying you can only prove him wrong by coming up with your own framework that solves all the mysteries of the cosmos.Ryan F. Mandelbaum, “The Trouble With Stephen Wolfram’s New ‘Fundamental Theory of Physics’” at Gizmodo
Let’s see if this Answer to Everything is still a buzz in the fall.