Stephen Wolfram Livestreams


History of Science & Technology Q&A (73 videos)

Biweekly ask-me-anything about the history of science & technology

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New episode streaming Wednesday, June 7, at 3:30pm ET. Submit your questions

History of Science & Technology Q&A:
Are there exact matches or just similarities between complexity in nature (bio, evolution), society (political, religious) and technology? ​​How did the development of atomic theory by scientists such as Democritus, Dalton and Rutherford influence our understanding of discrete structures and the behavior of matter at the atomic level? How do historians know with certainty the identities of prominent historical figures? Could there have been more to the Socrates, Plato and Aristotle timeline? ​​​​​​Do the majority of historians of physics now have a favorable opinion of string theory? Is there any scientific reason "pure maths" concepts are picked up by physics much later? Do you find our lack of human history odd, considering how long we have lived on this planet? With regards to notable people in history, humans seem to be completely obsessed with credit for their contributions—an interesting feature of the human ego. Taoist philosophy believes the Tao makes achievements and lays no claim to them. ​​Can we reconstruct the lost works in history with AI scraping through contemporary reference scripts and searching for the influence lost writings had on known writings? That brings up the interesting point that there were likely MANY people "back there" who had amazing ideas that would have important applications today, but they didn't have the good fortune to be noticed and documented. How did the concept of zero originate and evolve in mathematical history?​​ Do zero and infinity have the same origin? Interesting, but if I had three ducks and gave them all to you, surely the ancients must have had some concept of what that left me with? Speaking of string theory, what are for you the notable "dead-end paths" taken in the history of math/sci/tech?​​ View Less »
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History of Science & Technology Q&A:
Are there languages or logic systems we haven't yet discovered from the past? Can smart keyboards help with this process of language discovery? ​​Do you view mathematics as a subset of language, or the other way around? How did different languages come to develop? Will we slowly move toward a universal language? "Ona, also known as Selk'nam (Shelknam), is a language spoken by the Selk'nam people in Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego in southernmost South America." Spoken by only one person. ​The distinction is the unique role of mathematics expressing and formalizing ideas in ways that transcend linguistic and cultural boundaries. Language came before humans, e.g. dolphins and whales; we just scaled it up and complexified it​. Was Shakespeare's style unique to him? Would there have been a possibility for people to speak in a more poetic language? ​​I think language is closer to 1.5-dimensional, considering we have relative pronouns and other constructions that link up with previous statements, such that a 2D diagram of it can be made. ​​​​If I want to write a short statement, I prefer English. For a detailed style, I would prefer German... which is usually longer and not as nice to read as short English text. Bulgarian is pronounced exactly as it is written. One of its quirks.​​ If LLMs are hallucinating all the time and good ones are just hallucinating correctly/accurately most of the time, does that explain how Ramanujan might have arrived at his formulas without proofs?​​ View Less »
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History of Science & Technology Q&A:
History of Science & Technology Q&A:
History of Science & Technology Q&A:
History of Science & Technology Q&A:
Can you talk about the history of hearts? Why does the human heart not resemble the heart shape seen most commonly in other forms? How did scientists discover the brain and its purpose? When did this happen? What about the theories that say that neither the brain nor anything else in the body is the "site of consciousness" (e.g. "the brain is just a receiver")? There's at least some stuff there that can't be easily dismissed. ​​Any thoughts on Panini, who wrote a meta-rule to decode the rule conflicts in the linguistic algorithm? How has technology influenced the development and preservation of languages? Why did the Latin language "die"? Do you think it would be widely used if it had survived? The Pirahã, a tribe in Brazil, have a very peculiar way of talking. They don't include numbers and time, if I understand. How do linguists reconstruct ancient languages they have little direct evidence of?​ ​​Would the Greek spoken at the time of Aristotle be fully intelligible to speakers of modern Greek? How did accents and dialects evolve (for example, UK English vs. US English)​? The reconstructed 1700s London accent sounds somewhat American, I thought? ​​Are there still undiscovered writing systems to be discovered? ​​Do you have any comments on the relationship scientists have had with the philosophy of science? ​​If one views religion as a function whose input is belief and output is explanation of "the unknown," then could science ("many universes" in quantum theory, for example) be construed as such? View Less »
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