Books March 2022
A review of Journey to the Edge of Reason: The Life of Kurt Gödel by Stephen Budiansky.
Best Known Modern Mathematician is not a hotly contested title. John Nash would get some votes, thanks to the movie A Beautiful Mind (a biopic about genius and madness). So, despite all the syllables, would Srinivasa Ramanujan: rose from obscurity, died young, biopic The Man Who Knew Infinity. But the likely winner of this low-turnout election is Kurt Gödel, about whom a commercially viable biopic is highly improbable. His name has reached the public partly through Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach, which won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction and the National Book Award for Science, and which, as I write this more than forty years after its publication, leads in three Amazon sales categories; and partly because his most celebrated discoveries, the Incompleteness Theorems, have not only fascinated serious thinkers...
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