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How Eccentric Mathematician Kurt Gödel Opened the World

Science writer: As often happens, few people understood the significance of what had just happened. The one exception was John von Neumann.

Albert Einstein, Jogalekar tells us, considered it a privilege to walk home with Gödel every day. Why?: In an exceptionally elegant essay, science writer Ashutosh Jogalekar (no stranger to controversy) talks about the huge difference Kurt Gödel (1906–1978) made by eliminating the idea that some single, simple explanation would put an end to all questioning about the nature of the universe in favor of some simple materialism. In a review of Stephen Budiansky’s biography of Gödel, Journey to the Edge of Reason (Harvard 2021), Jogalekar explains how Gödel dashed such hopes: In September 1930, a big conference was going to be organized in Königsberg. German mathematics had been harmed because of Germany’s instigation of the Great War, and Hilbert’s decency…