Stephen Wolfram at Maker Faire: “Every year there’s more and more for me to learn from my children”

Mathematica creator Stephen Wolfram gave a talk at World Maker Faire New York 2012, but his 13-year-old son Christopher stole the show by doing some Mathematica programming on the fly to control a quadricopter.

His plan was to have a single line of Mathematica code that would make the quadricopter fly a specified 3D path. He had a list of points for a square, entered the line of code, and pressed Shift-Return, and… nothing happened!
I guess Christopher has debugged quite a lot of code in his 13 years. And now he set about doing it in front of the audience. A missing function definition. A missing command to connect to the device. He was finding quite a few things. And I was getting ready to call out that he should just give up.
But then… the sound of quadricopter blades, and up the quadricopter goes… flying its loop on the stage, and landing.
It had actually worked! It was pretty neat, being able to just type one line of code into Mathematica, and then having some physical object fly around in the pattern one had specified:

Stephen also mentioned the 3D koala bears that his daughter Catherine designed in Mathematica, and that they had printed at a local 3-D print shop:

Stephen says: “Every year there’s more and more for me to learn from my children. My oldest child, now age 16, has become a rather successful and uncannily sophisticated entrepreneur—from whom I’m trying to absorb what business wisdom I can. ”

Kids, Arduinos and Quadricopters


Mark Frauenfelder is the founding Editor-in-Chief of Make: magazine, and the founder of the popular Boing Boing blog.

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