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Genetic Mountaineering

Adrian Woolfson: The evolution of evolvability, 6 February 2003

A New Kind of Science 
by Stephen Wolfram.
Wolfram Media, 1197 pp., £40, May 2002, 1 57955 008 8
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... were easily built on to accommodate genes and mutations, recent work has been more challenging. Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin, for example, used the spandrels of St Mark’s in Venice, which exist as a necessary by-product of the process of mounting a dome on rounded arches, as a way of illustrating the anti-adaptationist idea that certain features ...

Thinking

Peter Campbell, 4 August 1988

Who got Einstein’s office? Eccentricity and Genius at the Institute for Advanced Study 
by Ed Regis.
Simon and Schuster, 316 pp., £12.95, April 1988, 0 671 69923 7
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Chaos 
by James Gleick.
Heinemann, 354 pp., £12.95, May 1988, 9780434295548
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The School of Genius 
by Anthony Storr.
Deutsch, 216 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 233 98010 5
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... of a number of the pieces of New Science which Regis describes. Take, for example, the work of Stephen Wolfram. An Etonian who published his first paper on particle physics at the age of 15 and got his PhD from Caltech at 20, Wolfram wanted (in Regis’s words) to explain, ‘not the complexity of any given ...
Dreaming of Cockaigne: Medieval Fantasies of the Perfect Life 
by Herman Pleij, translated by Diane Webb.
Columbia, 544 pp., £23.50, June 2001, 0 231 11702 7
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... Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival, having raised the siege of Belrepeire, finds its inhabitants gripped by famine. They have slack skin, ashen complexions and sunken bellies. Parzival knows what must be done to avoid the frenzied scenes which would otherwise ensue now food is again available: ‘Faultless Parzival proceeded as follows ...

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