personal, social, political, or economic activity. Just as the complexities of life arose through eons of survival of the fittest, human culture evolves as societies or governments rise and fall; economies evolve as companies are founded and go bankrupt; even the World Wide Web evolves as pages are added and links expire. So Nash’s math does seem capable of catalyzing a merger of methods for understanding individual behavior, biology, and society.
What about chemistry and physics? At first glance there doesn’t seem to be any struggle for survival among the molecules engaged in chemical reactions. But in a way there is, and the connections between game theory and statistical mechanics promise to reveal ways in which game theory still applies. Reacting molecules, for instance, always seek a stable condition, in which their energy is at a minimum. The “desire” for minimum energy in molecules is not so different from the “desire” for maximum fitness in organisms. They can be treated mathematically in a similar way.
True, there’s much more to physics than statistical mechanics. At first glance, game theory does not seem to touch some of the grander arenas of physical science, such as astrophysics and cosmology, or the subatomic realm ruled by quantum physics. But guess what? In the past few years physicists and mathematicians have developed quantum versions of game theory. So far, quantum theory seems to be enriching game theory, but that enrichment just might turn out to be mutual.8
Furthermore, Wolpert forges the link between statistical mechanics and game theory with help from the mathematical theory of information. As I wrote in my book The Bit and the Pendulum (Wiley, 2000), modern science has become enamored of information theory, using both its math and its metaphor to describe all sorts of science, from the contents of black holes to the computational activity in the brain. Quantum physics itself has been illuminated over the past decade by new insights emerging from quantum information theory. And some theorists have pursued the notion that information ideas hold the key to unifying quantum physics with gravity, perhaps paving the way to the ultimate “theory of everything.” It’s possible, Wolpert speculates, that game