From the Department of Puzzling Hyperbole

Sat Sep 23, 2006

“Every school boy in the streets of Gottingen understands more about four-dimensional geometry than Einstein. Yet , in spite of that, Einstein did the work and not the mathematicians.” So Palle Yourgrau quotes David Hilbert in A World without Time (Basic, 2005: p. 6).

Or is there something about Gottingen I’m missing?

Also, Bertrand Russell on Princeton: “full of new Gothic, and […] as much like Oxford as monkeys can make it” (89). That’s somewhat unpleasant, isn’t it?

Yourgrau recounts Godel’s famous disquisition on the U. S. Constitution on p. 99: “Years later, asked for a legal analogy for his incompleteness theorem, he would comment that a country that depended entirely on the formal letter of its laws might well find itself defenseless against a crisis that had not, and could not, have been foreseen in its legal code.” I wonder if he had ever read the now quite au courant Schmitt on related subjects.