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Kurt Gödel and the romance of logic

The great theory of this emaciated genius of philosophy defeated the finest minds of the 20th century—and rescued the idea that there are truths that humans can never prove

Mathematician Kurt Gödel, right, and physicist Albert Einstein, left, taking a walk in Princeton, 1954

We are sometimes inclined to make celebrities out of intellectuals despite—or perhaps precisely because of—their producing work we can never hope to understand. Bertrand Russell’s oddly old-fashioned dress sense and aristocratic bearing remain familiar features on the cultural landscape, as are Albert Einstein’s friendly face and shock of white hair. Indeed, such was the popularity of the aging Einstein that he was, decades after coming up with relativity theory, offered the (largely…

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