Mathematicians Of The Day

2nd April

On this day in 1948 Kurt Gödel had his examination to become a United States citizen. Being the diligent individual that he was, he studied the constitution carefully beforehand and felt that he had found a contradiction. On the way to the hearing Einstein and Oskar Morgenstern tried to keep his mind on other issues, but when the judge called them into his chambers (so that he could meet Einstein) he asked Gödel if he had anything to say. It was only with considerable effort that his friends were able to change the subject when Gödel brought up the contradiction.

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Quotation of the day

From Hannes Alfvén
The difference between myth and science is the difference between divine inspiration of 'unaided reason' (as Bertrand Russell put it) on the one hand and theories developed in observational contact with the real world on the other. It is the difference between the belief in prophets and critical thinking, between Credo quia absurdum (I believe because it is absurd Tertullian) and De omnibus est dubitandum (Everything should be questioned Descartes). To try to write a grand cosmical drama leads necessarily to myth. To try to let knowledge substitute ignorance in increasingly large regions of space and time is science.
In 'Cosmology: Myth or Science?' Journal of Astrophysics and Astronomy (1984)