Wolfram Research’s A New Kind of Science Explorer software kit provides an easy, animated introduction to the book A New Kind of Science, by company founder Stephen Wolfram. He claims that cellular automata patterns model all sorts of simple and complex behaviors found in nature, and that Explorer is the easiest way to evaluate this. Explorer, which runs in OS 9 and in OS X’s Classic mode, follows the book, chapter by chapter, representing its descriptions of cellular automata as simple point-and-click images.
Explorer provides a delightful form-based interface, which does all the work of generating models from your input values, and includes its own copy of the Mathematica kernel as the computational engine.
It’s doubtful that the general user has enough of a background in statistical mechanics, cosmology, or the foundations of math to evaluate Wolfram’s grander claims about the implications of cellular automata and their generated patterns, but Explorer targets just such an audience. Expect to see fairly exotic science-fair projects based on this program at hundreds of high schools in the next few years.