Neil Meets Wolfram

Towards the end of the Friday lectures, I left Neil to go up to the hotel room and clean myself up for dinner. I dawdled, so when I went down, the G4G9 attendees were scattered, and I was unable to find Neil anywhere. Sure that we’d crossed paths, I set myself at the cocktail party, hanging out with the Japanese posse.

But time passed with no Neil, so I strolled back down to the buffet area, where I found Neil, worried. I knew he was safe amongst his math buddies, but one of them had sent him to his hotel room for security–probably at the same time I was going down to find him. I pulled Neil back to the cocktail party with me and bought him a (non-alcoholic) drink.

Then we went back downstairs for the dinner, and while in line, a woman appeared and pulled Neil away. I just asked him that wherever he ended up, he’d save a seat at the table for me.

As it turned out, Stephen Wolfram had asked to see him.

I don’t know the backstory, but I imagine it went something like this: Wolfram was talking with Bill Gosper, Corey and Julian about the lecture the (younger) boys had given on the Minsky Circle algorithm (don’t ask me to explain it, please). At some point, he said “has no-one at this event read A New Kind of Science?!”

Whereupon Corey, being a teenager, snarked that their 12-year-old buddy read it when he was 10, and liked it so much he read it again, and again, and again. Ah, Wolfram had found a kindred spirit! And thus, Neil was called. Neil tells me Wolfram asked him how he liked the book, and they happily talked about cellular automata and one of Neil’s projects.

Here’s my formal picture of Neil and Wolfram. I’m just grateful Neil remembered to save me a place at his table.

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