September 16, 2002–Since its release in May 2002, Stephen Wolfram’s A New Kind of Science has become a major bestseller and one of the most talked-about science books in decades. Over the past four months, scientists and many others around the world have been intently studying Wolfram’s discoveries and discussing their potential implications across science and technology.
Based on the same programs that Stephen Wolfram used to create the striking graphics in his book, A New Kind of Science Explorer (NKS Explorer) software is a versatile and intuitive tool that will allow everyone to further experience the remarkable world of computational phenomena that Wolfram describes in the book.
“There are going to be a lot of discoveries made with NKS Explorer–by a tremendous range of people,” predicts Wolfram. “I am very pleased at how easy it will now be for all sorts of people to share the excitement I’ve had in exploring the computational world.”
NKS Explorer supports over 450 different types of experiments, each with an essentially infinite number of variations. After choosing specific input for an experiment, the user simply presses a button to run it. The results are presented in the same kind of powerful diagrammatic graphics used in Wolfram’s book.
Keyed to the text of A New Kind of Science, NKS Explorer will allow a wide range of individuals to gain a deeper understanding of the content and implications of Wolfram’s science. Ideal both for personal study and in the classroom, the product should see extensive use among professional researchers, students, and general enthusiasts. Its interface is simple enough that it could be used even by elementary school students.
In addition to their scientific and educational value, the graphics from NKS Explorer serve as dramatic raw material for the visual arts. NKS Explorer provides an easy mechanism for users to exchange their results and discoveries–and Wolfram Research plans to sponsor a large website devoted to these.
NKS Explorer not only is based on new science but also showcases Wolfram Research’s latest innovative software technology. Powered by an embedded Mathematica engine, it makes essential use of document-centered interfaces and symbolic programming–two major elements of Mathematica technology. (An additional Mathematica kit that allows researchers to connect NKS Explorer to a full Mathematica system will be available soon.)
To present its large amount of content, NKS Explorer is organized overall as a structured document. But through Wolfram Research’s document-centered interface technology, this document also immediately serves as an interface to active computations. These computations then make extensive use of the unique symbolic programming capabilities of the Mathematica language–notably to generate not just arrays or strings but arbitrary symbolic expressions representing complex diagrammatic graphics.
Andrew de Laix, lead developer for NKS Explorer, observes, “With the programs from Stephen Wolfram’s book in hand, it’s incredible how quickly we managed to build NKS Explorer. It’s a terrific example of the power of Mathematica technology.”
A New Kind of Science Explorer is available from Wolfram Research and its distributors. It is priced at $65 (U.S.) and runs on Windows computers. (The additional Mathematica kit will be available direct from Wolfram Research for Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and Unix systems.) A special bundle consisting of the book A New Kind of Science together with NKS Explorer will be available from selected retailers.
More information is available.