Tuesday, September 27

cellular sounds

What could explain the fundamental laws of physics and also generate cell phone ringtones? Cellular automata, in the hands of physicist-programmer Stephen Wolfram, who created the Mathematica program commonly used in research. In recent years Wolfram has been playing with cellular automata: grids where each square, or cell, can be on or off and evolve using simple rules like "if two of your neighbors are on, turn on."

In 2002, Wolfram dropped a 1200-page tome called "A New Kind of Science," the culmination of two decades of research with cellular automata which the author says "force a whole new way of looking at the operation of our universe," and which he has used to try to tackle hairy problems such as free will.

So far the book's methods have not revolutionized science. But, of course, cellular automata had to have something to do with cell phones. Now on Wolfram's website you can make your own ringtones by starting from different genres (jazz, world, guitar) and then tweeking the rules of the game.



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