When Rudy Rucker met Kurt Gödel


Science fiction writer and mathematician Rudy Rucker -- surely one of the world's all-time happiest mutants -- met with Kurt Gödel on three occasions, which he documented in an essay from his book Infinity and the Mind. Now Rucker has reprinted the essay on his blog, along with some of his fine photographs. It raised goosebumps on my arms.

When I saw him he was dressed as in all his pictures, with a suit over a warm vest and necktie. He is known to have worried a great deal about his health and was always careful to keep himself well bundled-up. Indeed, in the winter, one would sometimes see him leaving the Institute with a scarf wrapped around his head.

He encouraged me to ask questions, and, feeling like Aladdin in the treasure cave, I asked him as many as I could think of. His mind was unbelievably fast and experienced. It seemed that, over the years, he had already thought every possible philosophical problem through to the very end.

Despite his vast knowledge, he still could discuss ideas with the zest and openness of a young man. If I happened to say something particularly stupid or naive, his response was not mockery, but rather an amused astonishment that anyone could think such a thing. It was as if during his years of isolated thought he had forgotten that the rest of the human race was not advancing along with him.

Memories of Kurt Gödel