In Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (GEB), the following claim appears:
...in the species Felis catus, deep probing has revealed that it is indeed possible to read the phenotype directly off the genotype. The reader will perhaps better appreciate this remarkable fact after directly examining the following typical section of the DNA of Felis catus:
...CATCATCATCATCATCATCAT...(OP note: truncated because, you get it)
Is this true? A cursory search for the DNA of Felis catus gives me this 1996 paper by Lopez, Cevario, and O'Brien and the given sequence does not appear – there are some instances of "CAT" but not repeated enough to make it as remarkable as claimed in GEB.
I don't know enough Biology to judge the veracity of this claim. Some points I am considering are:
- GEB is full of wordplays. However, the tone of this part of the text does not sound like one to me.
- GEB was written/published around 1978. The paper I linked to – which was cited by some 236 others according to Google – was published in 1996, way after GEB's time. If my impression that Lopez et al.'s work is significant because it is the first time Felis catus has been sequenced, then there is no way Hofstadter could've known of it when he wrote GEB. Then again, I don't know enough Biology that there might be some nuance to Lopez et al.'s paper that I'm missing (i.e., the results of the paper might not be mutually exclusive to the claim made in GEB).
- GEB has reference notes and bibliography and there is no reference cited to back this claim. However, GEB does not attempt to be a rigorous academic thesis and the references is only called upon more when Hofstadter quotes other works directly while the bibliography is a list of readings which the reader may want to check out, regarding the main thesis of the book.
So are cats recursions with no base cases?