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Since Isaac Newton, physicists have searched for mathematical equations to explain the behavior of the universe. On many fronts, the effort has been successful. Yet plenty of extraterrestrial phenomena escape the grasp of equations. Technology innovator Stephen Wolfram argues that the universe may function less like a math equation and more like a computer program, demonstrating extremely complex behavior which could be based on relatively simple lines of natural code. Just what these foundational lines of code are, says Wolfram, is the work of the technologist.

What's the Big Idea?

Wolfram's idea, which is not accepted by a majority of physicists, is that computer code models nature better than singular math equations. "[The] idea came out of his work showing how simple programs called cellular automata could reproduce the structure of objects like snowflakes or leaves." In Wolfram's opinion, the 21st century will be one of particular importance as the power of software design is fully realized. "The computation age that began in the 20th Century will provide us with more than just the internet, personal gadgets and so on – it could also help answer major existential and scientific questions too."

Read more at BBC Future