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John W Dawson

Logical dilemmas

Kurt Gödel was rather reclusive, keeping himself to himself, especially afte the deaths of von Neumann and Einstein. This presents a problem for a biographer, as there are few people who know much about Gödel's life. What Gödel did leave was massive amounts of paperwork - he seemed to hoard every ticket and reciept he ever had. John W. Dawson has sifted through these and Logical dilemmas : the life and work of Kurt Gödel is the result. Dawson tells of Gödel's early years, and his life as a student in Vienna, leading up to his famous incompleteness theorem of 1931.

The book continues with Gödel's growing fame in the 1930's. Gödel often visited the IAS, and in 1940, when the situation in Vienna became intolerable, he moved to the USA for good. Gödel was something of a hypochondriac, and as he got older he tended towards paranoia, although his intellectual abilities were as strong as ever. His friendship with Einstein led to his discovery of a rotating solution to Einstein's equations, which allowed closed timelike curves. Gödel also devoted a lot of work to Cantor's continuum problem.

Dawson is careful in detailing the source of his information and one might expect that a book like this would be difficult to read, but actually I was impressed by the way the information has been put together into a coherent whole. If you want to find out about the details of Gödel's life, then you'll find plenty of interest in this book.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews