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Kurt Gödel, Famous Mathematician and Logician from Brno

You know his name, you probably know that he was a mathematician and logician. What you maybe didn’t know is that he was from Brno. Let’s take a look at the peculiar life of Kurt Gödel, one of the most important logicians in history.

Who was Kurt Gödel

Kurt Friedrich Gödel was born on the 28th of April 1906 in Brno, Austria-Hungary (now Czech Republic) into a German speaking family. His father registered several patents and together with his wife they supported their sons in getting a good education. The Gödels were a prominent family in Brno and had to do with the city’s cultural and commercial life. Young Kurt spent his childhood in the gardens of the Špilberk castle and went to both elementary and secondary school here.

Gödel’s birth house on Pekařská 5, Brno, Gödel lived here until 1915

He studied at the university in Vienna, Austria and went several times to the USA. The world knows Gödel as a genius mathematician and logician who formulated the completeness theorem and incompleteness theorems.

USA, Special Friendship and Mental Health Issues

The political situation in Europe at the brink of the Second World War made Gödel and his wife Adele move to the US. He continued his academic career at the Princeton university and due to the influence of his good friend Albert Einstein he also explored the field of physics.

Albert Einstein and Kurt Gödel
Albert Einstein and Kurt Gödel

Even before he got married, Gödel had a nervous breakdown and underwent treatment in Austria. His demanding career and the expectations of him took a toll on his fragile mental health. Although his wife supported him, he didn’t accompany her on her regular trips to Europe to visit family. The separation from his friends and relatives only added to his anxieties and ultimately, Gödel developed a crippling fear of being poisoned and refused to eat any food that hadn’t been prepared by his wife. This obsession led to his death in 1978 when his wife had to spend 6 months in hospital and Gödel starved himself to death.

Brno remembers Kurt Gödel

Brno pays tribute to Kurt Gödel in several ways. A street in Brno leading from the street where he was born bears his name…Gödel

…and in 2006 a commemorative plaque was revealed at his birth house.

Kurt Gödel on a phone booth in Brno, by Klaudie Svrčková Art

Recently, Brno launched a commemorative campaign Brno nezapomeň! (Brno, don’t forget!) to honor its famous citizens. A comic book-style exhibition about Gödel’s life and work was opened in Brno’s Alfa pasáž.

Kurt Gödel’s Society was founded in Brno in 1992 and the official website dedicated to his life in Brno will show you all the significant places of his life in this Moravian city.

Besides the aforementioned commemorative plaques, more of them were revealed on the house on Božetěchova 2 and at the former Gödel’s residence on Pellicova 8a.

Featured picture: Flickr, Public Domain


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