Dr. Kurt Gödel

The man who proved the limist of mathematics and computability

In his family, young Kurt was known as Herr Warum "Mr. Why" because of his insatiable curiosity.

Here's a time line of Gödel's life:

  • 1906 - born Brunn (now Brono Czech Republic), Austria-Hungary. Born to German speaking parents.
  • 1918 - Gödel automatically became a Czechoslovak citizen at age 12 when the Austro-Hungarian Empire broke up at the end of World War I.
  • 1924 - At the age of 18, Gödel joined his brother in Vienna and entered the University of Vienna. By that time, he had already mastered university-level mathematics.
  • 1929 - Completed his doctoral dissertation under Hans Hahn's supervision. He also chose to become an Austrian citizen at age 23.
  • 1930 - Awarded his doctorate. His thesis, along with some additional work, was published by the Vienna Academy of Science.
  • 1931 - Gödel published his two incompleteness theorems when he was 25 years old, one year after finishing his doctorate at the University of Vienna.
  • "Kurt Gödel's achievement in modern logic is singular and monumental – indeed it is more than a monument, it is a landmark which will remain visible far in space and time. ... The subject of logic has certainly completely changed its nature and possibilities with Gödel's achievement."

    John von Neumann
  • 1932 - Gödel earned his habilitation at Vienna.
  • 1933 - he became a Privatdozent (unpaid lecturer) in Vienna, he also traveled to the U.S., where he met Albert Einstein, who became a good friend.
  • 1934 - Gödel gave a series of lectures at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton, New Jersey.
  • 1935 - Gödel again visited the IAS. The traveling and the hard work had exhausted him, and the next year he took a break to recover from a depressive episode.
  • 1936 - Moritz Schlick, whose seminar had aroused Gödel's interest in logic, was assassinated by one of his former students, Johann Nelböck. This triggered "a severe nervous crisis" in Gödel.
  • 1937 - Returns to teaching in Vienna.
  • 1938 - Married Adele Nimbursky (née Porkert, 1899–1981), whom he had known for over 10 years, on September 20, 1938. Their relationship had been opposed by his parents on the grounds that she was a divorced dancer, six years older than he was. Nazi German took control of Austria and Gödel automatically became a German citizen.

    Germany abolished the title Privatdozent, so Gödel had to apply for a different position under the new order. His former association with Jewish members of the Vienna Circle, especially with Hahn, weighed against him. The University of Vienna turned his application down.
  • 1939 - Gödel and his wife left Vienna for Princeton. To avoid the difficulty of an Atlantic crossing, the Gödels took the Trans-Siberian Railway to the Pacific, sailed from Japan to San Francisco (which they reached on March 4, 1940), then crossed the US by train to Princeton. There Gödel accepted a position at the Institute for Advanced Study.
  • 1940 - Gödel and his wife reach San Francisco via Japan and then crossed the US by train to Princeton. There Gödel accepted a position at the Institute for Advanced Study.
  • Albert Einstein was also living at Princeton during this time. Gödel and Einstein developed a strong friendship. 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".
  • 1946 - Gödel became a permanent member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.
  • 1947 - Becomes a US citizen.
  • 1951 - Gödel was awarded (with Julian Schwinger) the first Albert Einstein Award.
  • 1953 - Gödel becomes a full professor at Princeton.
  • 1968 - Elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS).
  • 1974 - Awarded the National Medal of Science.
  • 1976 - Gödel becomes a emeritus professor at Princeton.
  • 1977 - Gödel wife is hospitalised leading to his death of starvation.
  • 1978 - Gödel dies of starvation. Gödel suffered periods of mental instability and illness. He had an obsessive fear of being poisoned; he would eat only food that his wife, Adele, prepared for him. He weighed only 29 kilograms when he died.

This page is mostly content from Gödel's wikipedia page which can be found here

Written and coded by A Watkin