Wednesday, January 11, 2012


“Examples galore of this feeling must have arisen in the minds of the people who extended the Magic Cube concept to other polyhedra, other dimensions, other ways of slicing.  And once you have made or acquired a new ‘cube’… you will want to know how to export a known algorithm , broken up into its fundamental operators , from a familiar cube.  What is the essence of each operator?  One senses a deep invariant lying somehow ‘down underneath’ it all, something that one can’t quite verbalize but that one recognizes so clearly and unmistakably in each new example, even though that example might violate some feature one had thought necessary up to that very moment.  In fact, sometimes that violation is what makes you sure you’re seeing the same thing , because it reveals slippabilities you hadn’t sensed up till that time….

… example: There is clearly only one sensible 4 × 4 × 4 Magic Cube.  It is the  answer; it simply has the right spirit .”

— Douglas R. Hofstadter, 1985, Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern  (Kindle edition, locations 11557-11572)

See also Many Dimensions in this journal and Solomon’s Cube.

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