markpasc (markpasc) wrote,

Gödel, Escher, Bacchus

Reading them so close together, White Light by Rudy Rucker comes across as a short(er), fiction version of Gödel, Escher, Bach even more than last time I read it. White Light deals directly with the idea of infinity, though, while GEB only discusses it in the context of "strange loops," the halting problem, etc. The Gödel portion of GEB is about Gödel numbering and Russell's Paradox, while White Light is about Georg Cantor's Continuum Problem--though they're related enough that Cantor and Hilbert (whose infinite hotel thought device (or here, if you know big math words) is placed in White Light's Flipside) are named on the same page of GEB where Russell's set is described. Cantor pops up again when his diagonal argument that the number of real numbers is more infinite than the number of natural numbers. and fractals, or at least self-similar recursions--is there a difference?--recur in the springy grass also in Flipside, and Hofstadter's Gplot of energy things in a magnetic crystal whatsit (figure 34, whatever that is).

Besides sharing with each other, they share themes with other--surprise, I'm still obsessing--fluorescent media. The part of White Light I got through last night covers some drug- vs self-induced enlightenment area, even. Rucker has his own experiences to relate on the topic of drugs in Seek!, his collection of non-fiction companioning his short fiction collection Gnarl!. (Seek! wasn't as stunning as Gnarl!, but it was worth checking out from the library for a while.)

Has anyone read Rucker's Infinity and the Mind? I wonder how it compares to GEB.

Also for anyone else who is reading or has read GEB recently, Raph Levien and friends are noodling on a sort of mathematical proof repository web service, which should be interesting to anyone who liked the Gödel bits.

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