The Last Theory
The Last Theory
The Last Theory
    Episode #041    
30 June 2023
John von Neumann
and the art of being there

John von Neumann might be the most important figure in Wolfram Physics prehistory.

Whenever the most important prerequisites to Wolfram Physics were happening – quantum mechanics, Gödel’s theorem, Turing machines, electronic computers, cellular automata – John von Neumann always seemed to be there.

How did John von Neumann always come to be in the right place at the right time to contribute to some of the most significant developments in physics, mathematics and computation history?

For this, another high-budget, big-hair episode of The Last Theory, I flew all the way to Budapest, where John von Neumann was born, to point to a plaque and get some answers.

I took inspiration and information for this episode from Ananyo Bhattacharya’s biography of John von Neumann: The Man from the Future





  • Image of John von Neumann from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which rather pointlessly requires that this rather ponderous statement be reproduced here: “Unless otherwise indicated, this information has been authored by an employee or employees of the Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS), operator of the Los Alamos National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-AC52-06NA25396 with the U.S. Department of Energy. The U.S. Government has rights to use, reproduce, and distribute this information. The public may copy and use this information without charge, provided that this Notice and any statement of authorship are reproduced on all copies. Neither the Government nor LANS makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any liability or responsibility for the use of this information.”
  • Turing Machine Model Davey 2012 by Rocky Acosta licensed under CC BY 3.0
  • Animation. 1200 iterations of the ‘Rule 110’ Automata by Mr. Heretic licenced under CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Bundesarchiv Bild183-R57262, Werner Heisenberg by an unknown author (Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R57262) licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 DE
  • Turing in 1935 by Tomipelegrin licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Gospers glider gun by Lucas Vieira licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Last Theory is hosted by Mark Jeffery, founder of the Open Web Mind

Subscribe to the podcast
Search for The Last Theory in your podcast player or subscribe on
RSS feed —

Thanks for subscribing to The Last Theory newsletter

Check your inbox for an email to confirm your subscription

Oh no, something went wrong, and I was unable to subscribe you!

Please refresh your browser and try again