Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society Organization Logo Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society


The Universe: A Book Written in the Mathematical – and Programming – Language


Event Summary

The Analog Computing Machine in the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory, Cleveland Ohio, September 28, 1949. Courtesy NASA on the Commons.

Lecture by Daniele Macuglia

Assistant Professor, Department of History of Science, Technology and Medicine, Peking University

Research Leader, Molecular Dynamics Project, Neubauer Collegium

This talk, sponsored by the Molecular Dynamics project at the Neubauer Collegium, focused on the pronounced shift that occurred in the contemporary history of science from the almost exclusive focus on the formulation of scientific laws to the massive computation that we can now perform with the aid of computer technologies. This change altered the way we conceive of science, and thus reconfigured our relationship with nature. What seems clear is that the “great book which ever is before our eyes” is not solely written with “triangles, circles, and other geometrical figures,” as Galileo put it, but also in a language whose symbols consist of bits, functions, and i/o channels, without which we would wander “in vain through a dark labyrinth.”