What’s your law?

In an interesting bit of fun, John Brockman of Edge.org sent the following request to a number of famous thinkers:

There is some bit of wisdom, some rule of nature, some law-like pattern, either grand or small, that you’ve noticed in the universe that might as well be named after you. Gordon Moore has one; Johannes Kepler and Michael Faraday, too. So does Murphy.

Since you are so bright, you probably have at least two you can articulate. Send me two laws based on your empirical work and observations you would not mind having tagged with your name. Stick to science and to those scientific areas where you have expertise. Avoid flippancy. Remember, your name will be attached to your law.

Quite a few (164) replied with interesting answers, for example:

W. Daniel Hillis’s [of Thinking Machines Corp. fame] Law:

The representation becomes the reality.

Or more precisely: Successful representations of reality become more important than the reality they represent.


Dollars become more important than gold.
The brand becomes more important than the company.
The painting becomes more important than the landscape.
The new medium (which begins as a representation of the old medium) eclipses the old.
The prize becomes more important than the achievement.
The genes become more important than the organism.

Check out the others, including Steven Pinker, Brian Eno, Dan Dennett, J. Craig Venter, Richard Dawkins, Nassim Taleb, Esther Dyson, Jamshed Bharucha, here.