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Kurt Gödel - Logician and Interesting Figure

Kurt Gödel was an Austrian-American mathematician, philosopher - and is considered one of the most significant logicians in human history, comparable to figures like Aristotle. Gödel is best known for his two incompleteness theorems, published in 1931 when he was 25 years old, as well as making important contributions to proof theory. 

  • He was bros with Einstein. 

He’s also rather well known for a strong friendship with Albert Einstein, who found themselves living in Princeton at the same time. They both worked at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, and were known to take long walks together to and from work. The nature of their conversations was a mystery to the other Institute members. Economist Oskar Morgenstern recounts that toward the end of his life Einstein confided that his “own work no longer meant much, that he came to the Institute merely…to have the privilege of walking home with Gödel”.

  • He found a loophole in the U.S. Constitution. 

On December 5, 1947, Einstein and Morgenstern accompanied Gödel to his U.S. citizenship exam, where they acted as witnesses. Gödel had confided in them that he had discovered an inconsistency in the U.S. Constitution, one that would allow the U.S. to become a dictatorship. Einstein and Morgenstern were concerned that their friend’s unpredictable behavior might jeopardize his chances. Fortunately, the judge turned out to be Phillip Forman. Forman knew Einstein and had administered the oath at Einstein’s own citizenship hearing. Everything went smoothly until Forman happened to ask Gödel if he thought a dictatorship like the Nazi regime could happen in the U.S. Gödel then started to explain his discovery to Forman. Forman understood what was going on, cut Gödel off, and moved the hearing on to other questions and a routine conclusion.

  • He starved himself to death. 

In the later years of his life, Gödel had an obsessive fear of being poisoned. He refused to eat any food that hadn’t been prepared by his wife, Adele. Late in 1977, Adele was hospitalized for six months. During her absence, he refused to eat, eventually starving to death. He weighed 65 pounds (approximately 30 kg) when he died.

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    The bits that are not written in the textbooks…
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