There was a dream. A dream to make mathematics fully comprehensible, to prove everything which is provable, to disprove what is disprovable. To make it black and white. To derive a conceptual machine that takes axioms, grinds them, and automatically explores what is undiscovered in math, bit by bit, up until the very last one. David Hilbert thought it’s true. Countless generations of mathematicians before him did so too.
Kurt Gödel proved how wrong this belief was. In his incompleteness theorem he proved, once and for all, that there are truths which are unprovable, that mathematics is something more subtle, more closely connected to human ingenuity, creativeness. It is not set in stone, but ever growing, organic.
Gödel came to Blue Hill, little town on the Maine coast, in 1942, couple of years after his paradigm shattering discovery. He stayed in this very hotel, the one I had a chance of visiting too, while working on the documentary for Polityka and Centre for Quantum Technologies in Singapore. He came here with his wife Adele, taking vacation from the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he, along with Albert Einsten, served as an attractor for other scientists.
The newly made American (Gödel was born and fully shaped intellectually up in Austria) demolished mathematics as we know it, but in 1942 nobody seemed to notice it. What local folks did notice though was a weird looking person, speaking with a heavy German accents, wandering aimlessly along the Blue Hill shore. Was he a spy? Was he signaling German u-boats? Was he crazy?