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And, what do you suppose Mr. Munger would have to say about Stephen Wolfram and his ideas? See Forbes ASAP:

http://www.forbes.com/asap/2000/1127/162.html

rct
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mr. munger is almost certainly aware of wolfram's ideas, even if he doesn't know the source (which i personally doubt).

documentation available in hagstrom's "warren buffett portfolio", partially based on interviews with munger.

the santa fe institute connection...that's wolfram.

munger is quoted as saying that the theory of complex systems is currently awaiting its fermat/pascal.

wolfram may be on to it. i'm itching for him to publish.
i can't judge his ideas without reading them, but he's definitely on the right track. this is the hottest area in modern scientific theory, if you ask me...stupefyingly slept-upon.

wolfram isn't the only one working it, either...
hardcore physics geeks with ample background in algebra theory & statistical mechanics are strongly urged to check out ilya prigogine's "from being to becoming". absolutely incredible...
also absolutely incomprehensible unless you're comfortable slinging hamiltonians.

there's an aching need for these ideas to be promulgated, popularized, and explored.

the nut of it is this: we need to find a bridge between dynamics and stochastics. not just mathematically, but intuitively.

in quantum mechanics, in evolutionary biology, in modern cosmology, there is a central acceptance of randomness as a driving mechanism.

in physics, at least, it's obvious where this came from: the astounding work of boltzmann, and the way it put the mathematical tools developed by fermat, pascal, euler, and (most notably) gauss so firmly into harness. boltzmann, to my mind, is the linchpin of modern physical thinking.

for boltzmann, though, with his models of gas models as idealized inelastic billiard balls bouncing in a box - postulating randomness was simply a tool to facilitate integral calculus & derive macro-scale conclusions from simple rules at the micro-scale.
(sound familiar? wolfram? except wolfram is turning the gaussian smoothing right on its head...)

for boltzmann, the bouncing of any individual gas molecule was entirely deterministic...indeed, his fundamental postulate for an ideal gas was that all motions perfectly obeyed newtonian dynamics. the stochastic "randomness" was simply introduced because NOBODY CARES about the motion of an individual gas molecule; it's the bulk properties of the gas boltzmann was after.
the system is entirely deterministic; you can clearly envision it in your head. the "randomness" is just a computational convenience, nothing fundamental.

from boltzmann's revolutionary modelling work was derived the statistical mechanics that is the underpinning of all quantum mechanics, and hence of modern cosmology.
the difference here is that quantum mechanics accepts randomness implicitly as a fundamental mechanism...cf. the famous "schrodinger's cat" paradox.

this is deeply disturbing to reason.
einstein went to his grave declaring that "god does not play dice with the universe".
i have always agreed, in my heart.

even such a great genius as feynman declared that anyone who thinks they understand quantum mechanics doesn't get it. is that not a pathetic state of affairs?
the problem is that the theory, as it stands, provides us with no mechanistic model to envision in our heads what a quantum looks like and how it behaves.
instead, we are asked to imagine the electron as essentially being a "probability wave" with certain particulate properties.

amplify this over dozens of orders of magnitude and we are asked to imagine (in the inflationary cosmology model of guth) that "mere chance" unevenness in the distribution of mass/energy in the early universe led to large-scale gravitic nucleation as it expanded. the expansion part is almost certainly correct, and it's very helpful, and guth's explanation is fantastic, but how am i supposed to explain to myself how the small universe got all clumpy in the first place?

it's the randomness. fundamental randomness is the death of reason.

witness evolutionary biology. i find darwin's logic pretty unassailable, especially as amplified by richard dawkins in "the extended phenotype" (for my money, five times better than "the selfish gene"). the standard puzzle is the emergence of organs such as, say, the eye - complex organized structures that seem to spring out of nowhere (in evolutionary time). okay, sure, the argument about evolutionary topological landscape & local attractors is good enough...but it doesn't help you imagine in your mind the PROCESS by which large numbers of genes cooperated to lever an eyeball out of the primordial slime. randomness is simply postulated, and natural selection operating inexorably on that randomness. after a certain level of structural organization (eyeballs), one's reason begins to rebel.

dawkins is probably on the right track with his discussion of "genes" in the evolutionary sense being distinct from genes in the molecular-biological sense...and hence it's perfectly reasonable to speak of "genes" for proto-eyeballs.
dawkins, a reasonable and mechanism-minded fellow, is obviously troubled too, and discusses at some length the complexity of gene interaction and gene translation - with the result that minimal recombination/mutation may result in large-scale amplification, in a fairly orderly fashion when we take into account the process of embryological development.

that's the ticket! cascading! amplification! dimensional hierarchies! emergent order and disorder!

down with fundamental randomness!
go get 'em prigogine!
go get 'em wolfram!

jesus...off-topic enough for you?
sorry for the rant
back to my cave
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