Reviews: A New Journey into Hofstadter's Mind; March 2007; Scientific American Magazine; by George Johnson; 3 Page(s)
To get into a properly loopy mind-set for Douglas R. Hofstadter's new book on consciousness, I plugged a Webcam into my desktop computer and pointed it at the screen. In the first instant, an image of the screen appeared on the screen and then the screen inside the screen. Cycling round and round, the video signal rapidly gave rise to a long corridor leading toward a patch of shimmering blue, beckoning like the light at the end of death's tunnel.
Giving the camera a twist, I watched as the regress of rectangles took on a spiraling shape spinning fibonaccily deeper into nowhere. Somewhere along the way a spot of red--a glint of sunlight, I later realized--became caught in the swirl, which slowly congealed into a planet of red continents and blue seas. Zooming in closer, I explored a surface that was erupting with yellow, orange and green volcanoes. Like Homer Simpson putting a fork inside the microwave, I feared for a moment that I had ruptured the very fabric of space and time.