My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Wonderfully printed, easy to read, marvelous to look at, pretentious piece of quack.
It was hard to pass the Introduction and the first Chapter, when you hear the author praising himself, his own importance and why literally 'everybody' in science and why science itself is 'wrong' and did not 'see' what very self-aware author sees, but nobody else.
The book is a massive piece of rarely to find print. I was self-published by the author to assure the quality of the printing. It has many black-and-white Illustrations and pictures to accompany the text. The text, when it is not about self-praising, is rather easy to read and easy to understand for non-academics. So what is it about?
It talks about the 'big' picture in nature and science. Stephen Wolfram is a well known 'Wunderkind' in theoretical physics. He made his PhD in 1979 at the age of 20. In the mid-1980s he founded Wolfram Research Inc. and invented 'Mathematica' the leading software for technical computing and symbolic programming.
Wolframs main thesis of the book and the solution he offers are easy to understand:
"... very simple programs produce great complexity. For all it takes is that systems in nature operate like typical programs and then it follows that their behavior will often be complex. And the reason that such complexity is not usually seen in human artifacts is just that in building these we tend in effect to use programs that are specially chosen to give only behavior simple enough for us to be able to see that it will achieve the purposes we want" page 3
This is the crux of the book, there, luckily on page 3.
If you read the 12 Chapters (846 pages plus around 250 pages of notes and additional massive Index, than it is most likely, that you do it because you like an intellectual exercise or because you love books and don't mind the many times annoying voice.
I am not going to discuss the results of such a vast amount of research and work that went into proving and verifying his idea. There are plenty of scientists from his fellow theoretical physics to mathematicians and others that reviewed and challenged Wolfram's book over the past years. There is even a great discussion a the slashdot-forum that mocks the authors writing and is funny and hilarious to read for nerds like me. May reviews and articles are online and it is easy to find them, if you want to.
Beyond the Masters Voice, this is a lovely book to look at. An artifact in these times of trash-quality publishing. It is not a masterpiece of printing. You cannot compare it with bibliophile editions. But for science books, if you have seen a physical copy of it, it is more on the upside, which tells you where we are nowadays, when it comes to print.