[Stephen Wolfram] nurtured his obsession as he migrated from Caltech to Princeton's Institute for Advanced Studies, where colleagues expected him to expand his promising career in cosmology and particle physics. Instead, Wolfram stubbornly pursued his research in the obscure field of automata, working in an office upstairs from one Albert Einstein had occupied two generations earlier.
His staggering intellect had long set him apart. Aside from his early theoretical achievements, at age 27 Wolfram created Mathematica, a software program widely used to perform complex mathematical functions and analyze and display data. It became the dominant software for math and physics and made Wolfram rich.
Wolfram's "new kind of science" entices specialists frustrated with mathematical formulas that explain hydrogen atoms or planetary orbits but "fail miserably" in fields such as biology, where systems are much more diverse, said Terry Sejnowski, director of the Computational Neurobiology Laboratory at UC San Diego and a Wolfram confidant.