In his way, Mandelbrot paid me some great compliments. When I was in my 20s, and he in his 60s, he would ask about my scientific work: “How can so many people take someone so young so seriously?” In 2002, my book “A New Kind of Science”—in which I argued that many phenomena across science are the complex results of relatively simple, program-like rules—appeared. Mandelbrot seemed to see it as a direct threat, once declaring that “Wolfram’s ‘science’ is not new except when it is clearly wrong; it deserves to be completely disregarded.” In private, though, several mutual friends told me, he fretted that in the long view of history it would overwhelm his work.
In retrospect, I don’t think Mandelbrot had much to worry about on this account.
What’s not so endearing is to see some of the supporting actors denied even a listing in the credits. . . . Adrien Douady and John H. Hubbard made crucial contributions to the understanding of the Mandelbrot set, but they too go unnamed here; this omission is particularly ungracious in that it was Douady and Hubbard who gave the set its name.
If only we could get that albedo guy into the picture, we’d be all set.