This book of thoroughly engaging essays from one of today's most prodigious innovators provides a uniquely personal perspective on the lives and achievements of a selection of intriguing figures from the history of science and technology. Weaving together his immersive interest in people and history with insights gathered from his own experiences, Stephen Wolfram gives an ennobling look at some of the individuals whose ideas and creations have helped shape our world today.
From his recollections about working with Richard Feynman to his insights about how Alan Turing's work has unleashed generations of innovation to the true role of Ada Lovelace in the history of computing, Wolfram takes the reader into the minds and lives of great thinkers and creators of the past few centuries—and shows how great achievements can arise from dramatically different personalities and life trajectories.
Contents: Richard Feynman • Kurt Gödel • Alan Turing • John von Neumann • George Boole • Ada Lovelace • Gottfried Leibniz • Benoit Mandelbrot • Steve Jobs • Marvin Minsky • Russell Towle • Bertrand Russell and Alfred Whitehead • Richard Crandall • Srinivasa Ramanujan • Solomon Golomb
Praise for Idea Makers:
"One of the most gifted minds of our time explains, through short stories and anecdotes, how individuals fundamentally transform human thought and perspective. Profoundly humane and smart, this short volume will become a classic for those who want to understand and practice leadership. One leaves this read far smarter and far more confident in the future of humans."
— Juan Enriquez, Author of Evolving Ourselves and As the Future Catches You
"A remarkable book with flashes of insight that will engage computer scientists, physicists, historians—but also fascinate a broader public as it weaves personal stories into the deep import of how and what they calculated."
— Peter Galison, Joseph Pellegrino University Professor, Harvard University, Author of Einstein's Clocks, Poincaré's Maps & coauthor of Objectivity
"How could anyone resist? Stephen Wolfram writes with so much more clarity and eloquence than one could reasonably expect of any groundbreaking scientist, and with so much more humanity and accessible ease than one would ever dare hope for from any genius. I've followed Stephen now with constant admiration for the better part of a lifetime, and I'm thrilled to get his illuminating and tremendously enjoyable essays—on everything from Steve Jobs to his own life—all brought together in one hardcover delight."
— Pico Iyer, Author of The Art of Stillness
"Stephen Wolfram is a quirky, groundbreaking genius, destined for the science pantheon. So novel are his seemingly simple ideas that it may take half a century before the public adopts them. In his lively collection of biographical essays, Wolfram takes the measure of his predecessors and peers—filtering their achievements though his unique worldview. A great read and thought-provoking fun."
— Rudy Rucker, Author of Infinity of the Mind and The Ware Tetralogy
"A gem. Most scientists and engineers do not think of historical figures as interesting people whose life stories are relevant to their current careers. Stephen Wolfram proves that curiosity and a bit of voyeurism can help you think better today and imagine a different future for tomorrow. Even if you hate history or biographies, if you like science, you'll like this book."
— Jay Walker, Founder of priceline.com | Curator of TEDMED & The Library of the History of Human Imagination