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Kurt Gödel's legacy - Time travel is mathematically imaginable / University of Vienna from 25 to 27 July 2019

Mihaela Rozman, Vienna Center for Logic and Algorithms, Vienna University of Technology - TU Wien




Kurt Gödel's legacy—Time travel is mathematically imaginable

"Does Future Lie in the Past?" This is the title of an international conference in Vienna that combines logic, computer science and physics featuring speakers such as Nobel laureate Rainer Weiss, mathematical rockstar John D. Barrow, AI researcher Toby Walsh, and physicist Marika Taylor among others.

Two events that have strongly influenced the world of science are celebrating an anniversary this year: The decisive review of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity is 100 years old. And 70 years ago Kurt Gödel proved that the theory of relativity permits a strange kind of universe: Under certain conditions, as Gödel could show, a universe with closed world lines is possible, in which time has a circular structure and objects at some point seamlessly return to their own past. Thus time travel within the general theory of relativity is conceivable.

On this occasion, the Kurt Gödel Society is organizing the international conference "Kurt Gödel´s Legacy: Does Future Lie in The Past?" at the University of Vienna from 25 to 27 July 2019.

Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity is one of the pioneering successes of twentieth-century physics. Fifteen years later, Kurt Gödel revolutionized another discipline in Vienna—mathematical logic. Albert Einstein's theory of relativity eliminated the concept of absolute time, while Kurt Gödel's incompleteness theorem of 1931 questioned the concept of absolute mathematical truth.

Logic, Physics, Philosophy

The conference brings together some of the world's leading personalities in the fields of mathematics, physics, computer science, philosophy and logic. Among them is Nobel Laureate Rainer Weiss, who received the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of gravitational waves. This finding was the last not yet directly verified prediction of general relativity and confirms its predictions about space-time distortions in the context of large-scale cosmic events.

For the first time in 15 years, the philosopher Palle Yourgrau will give a public lecture on the subject. He connects the two jubilee events and talks about the philosophical implications of Gödel's and Einstein's works. The main speaker, Juliet Floyd, is also a philosopher who relates various fields of science: she compares the significance of Einstein's theories for 20th-century philosophy with the effect of the concept of the Turing machine on computer science. Her lecture, the 27th Wiener Kreis Vorlesung, is open to the public and can be attended free of charge.

Another lecture, open to the general public, will be given by mathematician and cosmologist John D. Barrow of Cambridge University. He will tell the story of all the different possible universes found as solutions to Einstein's equations, including the rotating universes first found by Kurt Gödel. This lecture is in memory of Wolfgang Rindler, an Austrian physicist who made important contributions to the theory of relativity and in particular its implications for cosmology. Rindler died in February 2019.

Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Mechanics

Matthias Baaz, TU Vienna: "Just as Einstein and Gödel shook the foundations of science, today's knowledge about statistical and logical methods could lead the way to artificial intelligence (AI) in new directions". AI researcher Toby Walsh and science philosopher Reinhard Kahle are investigating developments in artificial intelligence and the demand for explainable and responsible AI computers that can learn independently without corrupt or distorted data. Another future topic with potential for revolutionary insights is quantum informatics: quantum physicists Markus Aspelmeyer and Wolfgang Schleich as well as mathematician and physicist Marika Taylor, formerly a close collaborator of Stephen Hawking, will describe the current state of research in this field.

The conference will be complemented by a special exhibition on the life and work of Kurt Gödel, curated by Karl Sigmund and open to the public. The conference is supported by the University of Vienna, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the research platform TURIS, the Vienna Center for Logic and Algorithms at the TU Vienna, the Department Vienna Circle and the Vienna Circle Society.


Events with free admission:

Evening events for journalists

The conference is open to journalists together with all evening events, including the solemn conference dinner. Free registration is required.

More information:
Austrian Press Agency published the German version of the text:

Media inquiries
Mihaela Rozman, MA
Vienna Center for Logic and Algorithms
Vienna University of Technology - TU Vienna
Favoritenstrasse 9-11, 1040 Vienna, Austria
Telephone: +43 1 58801 184806