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Following Kurt Gödel (1906-1978)’s publications on the first- and second incompleteness theorems (1931) and later work on Cantor’s continuum hypothesis (1947), Gödel in 1948 turned his attention to cosmology. In an extensive investigation of Einstein’s field equations, Gödel found one of few known exact solutions, whose implications—the “Gödel universe”—are very peculiar.

Gödel presented his solution to Einstein in the form of a manuscript on the occasion of the latter’s 70th birthday in 1949. Gödel was meant to have his manuscript ready for Paul Arthur Schlipp to include it in a book entitled Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist* (Schlipp, 1949). Gödel, ever the perfectionist, however did not finish his essay until about a month before Einstein’s birthday and even then delayed sending it off for a while (Dawson, 2006). Notorious for his attention to detail, Gödel’s six-page manuscript eventually included 34 footnotes.

Gödel’s interest in physics is traceable back prior to his entry to the University of Vienna in 1924, age 18, where he was originally admitted to study theoretical physics. At the time, he had already read some of philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)’s work, and evaluated Goethe’s dispute with Newton, eventually siding with the latter (Wang, 1995). Historical documents indeed show Gödel on the 26th of January 1925 requesting Kant’s 1786 book on the foundations of natural science from the Library at the University of Vienna.

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