Idea Makers: Personal Persectives on the Lives & Ideas of Some Notable People

Idea Makers: Personal Persectives on the Lives & Ideas of Some Notable People

by Stephen Wolfram


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From Stephen Wolfram, one of the world's most recognized leaders in science and technology and the author of the groundbreaking bestseller A NEW KIND OF SCIENCE (more than 100,000 copies in print), comes an enlightening, thoroughly engaging collection of essays that examine the lives and work of great thinkers throughout history—and with people he's worked directly with throughout his career, including Richard Feynman, Steve Jobs, and Marvin Minsky.

Stephen Wolfram's Idea Makers is a thoroughly engaging collection of essays that provides a uniquely personal perspective on the lives and achievements of a selection of intriguing figures from the history of science and technology. The list of people profiled includes (alphabetically) George Boole, Richard Crandall, Richard Feynman, Kurt Gödel, Solomon Golomb, Steve Jobs, Gottfried Leibniz, Ada Lovelace, Benoit Mandelbrot, Marvin Minsky, John von Neumann, Bertrand Russell, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Russell Towle, Alan Turing, and Alfred Whitehead.

Idea Makers is the first book that Wolfram has presented to a general audience since the publication of his groundbreaking bestseller A NEW KIND OF SCIENCE (also published by Wolfram Media) received prominent coverage in virtually every major publication throughout the world in 2002.

Weaving together his immersive interest in people and history with insights gathered from his own experiences, Wolfram gives an ennobling look at some of the individuals whose ideas and creations have helped shape our world today.

From his recollections about working with "rock star" physicists like Richard Feynman to his insights about how Alan Turing's work has unleashed generations of innovation, and to why Ada Lovelace's role in the history of computing is far more pivotal than she's received credit for, Wolfram takes the reader into the minds and lives of great thinkers and creators of the past few centuries and shows how great achievements can arise from dramatically different personalities and life trajectories.

Readers of Idea Makers will also discover:
• What Steve Jobs's early and ardent support of Mathematica (he was the one who pressed Wolfram to call it Mathematica) meant to its development.
• Why Wolfram believes that we're poised for a dramatic shift in science and technology that will make Kurt Godel's theorem the defining theme of science and technology in the twenty-first century.
• Why Wolfram's intellectual interests have an eerie parallel with Alan Turing's throughout his career and how Turing's work has repeatedly helped form the conceptual basis for what Wolfram has done in his career.
• The deep wisdom Wolfram gained through working with mentors, including Marvin Minsky and Richard Feynman, and his gratitude toward Feynman for spending a great deal of time and care on advice that Wolfram wasn't always willing to take.
• Great anecdotes that underscore the irrepressible nature of Feynman and why he chose to have dinner with people like EST founder Werner Erhard, why it was impossible to guess which way the wind was blowing with the otherwise logical Benoit Mandelbrot, and the true peril of riding in the back seat of a car driven by Marvin Minsky who, Wolfram amusingly observes, had "no apparent concern to the actual process of driving".
• Wolfram's insights into why John von Neumann just came close to making a remarkable number of the twentieth century's most important mathematics-related discoveries.
• Wolfram's take on some of sci/tech's great urban myths, like von Neumann being the inspiration for Stanley Kubrick's iconic Dr. Strangelove character, and Gödel's assertion that the German government suppressed Leibniz's great discoveries for centuries.

Idea Makers has a beautifully curated selection of images from original texts, handwritten notes, and illustrations, showing pages of computations, insightful letters and eye-opening schematics.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781579550035
Publisher: Wolfram Media, Inc.
Publication date: 07/07/2016
Pages: 250
Sales rank: 784,577
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Stephen Wolfram has had a unique trajectory in science, technology, and business. Widely known for his discoveries in basic science and his groundbreaking 2002 book A NEW KIND OF SCIENCE, he has spent three decades building what is now the Wolfram Language, the knowledge-based computer language that powers Mathematica and Wolfram|Alpha, and has contributed to countless inventions and discoveries, as well as to the education of several generations of students.

Wolfram was born in London and educated at Eton, Oxford, and Caltech, earning his PhD in physics in 1979 at the age of 20. After a brief but distinguished academic career, he founded Wolfram Research in 1987, and as CEO has built it into one of the world's most respected and innovative software companies, whose products are relied on by millions of people around the world.

Table of Contents

Preface vii

Richard Feynman 1

Kurt Gödel 11

Alan Turing 17

John von Neumann 25

George Boole 35

Ada Lovelace 45

Gottfried Leibniz 99

Benoit Mandelbrot 125

Steve Jobs 131

Marvin Minsky 137

Russell Towle 147

Bertrand Russell and Alfred Whitehead 151

Richard Crandall 161

Srinivasa Ramanujan 167

Solomon Golomb 211

What People are Saying About This

Author of The Art of Stillness - Pico Iyer

"How could anyone resist? Stephen Wolfram writes with so much more clarity and eloquence than one could reasonably expect of any groundbreaking scientist, and with so much more humanity and accessible ease than one would ever dare hope for from any genius. I've followed Stephen now with constant admiration for the better part of a lifetime, and I'm thrilled to get his illuminating and tremendously enjoyable essays—on everything from Steve Jobs to his own life—all brought together in one hardcover delight."

Founder of - Jay Walker

"A gem. Most scientists and engineers do not think of historical figures as interesting people whose life stories are relevant to their current careers. Stephen Wolfram proves that curiosity and a bit of voyeurism can help you think better today and imagine a different future for tomorrow. Even if you hate history or biographies, if you like science, you'll like this book."

Joseph Pellegrino University Professor, Harvard University - Peter Galison

"A remarkable book with flashes of insight that will engage computer scientists, physicists, historians—but also fascinate a broader public as it weaves personal stories into the deep import of how and what they calculated."

Author of Infinity and the Mind and The Ware Tetralogy - Rudy Rucker

"Stephen Wolfram is a quirky, groundbreaking genius, destined for the science pantheon. So novel are his seemingly simple ideas that it may take half a century before the public adopts them. In his lively collection of biographical essays, Wolfram takes the measure of his predecessors and peers—filtering their achievements through his unique worldview. A great read and thought-provoking fun."

Author of Evolving Ourselves and As the Future Catches You - Juan Enriquez

"One of the most gifted minds of our time explains, through short stories and anecdotes, how individuals fundamentally transform human thought and perspective. Profoundly humane and smart, this short volume will become a classic for those who want to understand and practice leadership. One leaves this read far smarter and far more confident in the future of humans."

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