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Douglas Hofstadter – Metamagical Themas (1985)

What is one to make of headlines like those printed above? Or of articles about plants that sing in Japanese, and calculating cacti? …

Naturally, one’s first reaction is to chuckle and dismiss such stories as silly. But how do you know they are silly? Do you also think that is a silly question?

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Douglas Hofstadter – Le ton beau de Marot (1997)

People not only wish but deeply need to attribute Profound Sensitivity to the performer when, in reality, the profundity is all, or nearly all, in the notes on paper. It’s the composer’s soul, not the performer’s, that is speaking to them. But it’s such a typical human desire to assign credit or blame to the flesh-and-blood human before their eyes rather than to an invisible abstraction of a human, a shadow long since vanished from view.

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Terry Pratchett – Pyramids (1989)

As far as camels were concerned, the way to mighty intellectual development was to have nothing much to do and nothing to do it with.

He reached the crest of the dune, gazed with approval over the rolling sands ahead of him, and began to think in logarithms.

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Douglas Hofstadter – Metamagical Themas (1985)

Either you are gentle (using long-wavelength photons) and do not see the electron well, or you are violent (using short-wavelength photons) and throw the electron completely off its course.

To recapitulate: The uncertainty principle states not that the observer always interferes with the observed, but rather that at a very fine grain size, the wave-particle duality of the measuring tools becomes relevant.

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William Gibson & Bruce Sterling – The Difference Engine (1990)

A daring fellow whisked past her, taking full advantage of the gritty new surface. Nearly recumbent within the creaking frame of a four-wheeled velocipede, his shoes were strapped to whirling cranks and his breath puffed explosively into the cold. He was bare-headed and goggled, in a thick striped jersey, a long knit scarf flapping out behind him as he sped away. Sybil supposed him an inventor.

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Adam Smith – The Wealth of Nations (1776)

But what improves the circumstances of the greater part, can never be regarded as any inconveniency to the whole. No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, clothe, and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labour as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed, and lodged.