The Norbert Wiener Memorial Gold Medal address delivered by the Nobel Laureate recipient. Considers Norbert Wiener and the idea of contingence. Refers to Wiener’s book The Human Use of Human Beings and in particular to the preface entitled “The idea of a contingent universe” and to the epilogue of the book by Rosenblith. This raises the question faced by Wiener: how to reconcile a deterministic world à la Newton with the intrinsically probabilistic universe of Gibbs, the relativistic universe of Einstein and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle? Notes the parallelism among the questions Wiener is asking with the ones to which the Gold Medallist has devoted most of his scientific life. Presents a different point of view, as a tribute to the visionary ideas developed by Wiener. Discusses the “new physics” and the problems facing physics today, at the end of the twentieth century.
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