KGFM 9, 10: Gödelian cosmology, Rindler and Svozil

The next piece is ‘Gödel, Einstein, Mach, Gamow, and Lanczos: Gödel’s Remarkable Excursion into Cosmology’ by Wolfgang Rindler.

Rindler’s books on Relativity are real classics of exposition, so I was hoping for good things from this paper. I wasn’t disappointed. As Rindler says, Gödel famously “invented a model universe that was consistent with general relativity but that nevertheless exhibited two startlingly disturbing features: bulk rotation (but with respect to what, as there is no absolute space in general relativity?) and travel routes into the past (enabling one to witness or even preventone’s own birth?)”. If you want to know what Gödel’s cosmological model looks like, and have a smidgin of knowledge about relativity theory, then this paper is a great place to start. There’s no philosophical discussion though about worries concerning the very idea of closed time loops: but that’s no complaint — the paper does beautifully what it does set out to do. Recommended!

The tenth paper — grouped with Rindler’s in a subsection called ‘Gödelian Cosmology’ — is Karl Svocil’s ‘Physical Unknowlables’. But this piece in fact doesn’t even mention Gödel’s model universe, but rambles about indeterminism, ‘intrinsic self-referential observers’, unpredictability, busy beavers, deterministic chaos, quantum issues, complementarity, and lots more. Hopelessly unfocused, I’d say. Not recommended!

[That finishes the first part of KGFM. There will now be a gap for ten days or so before I can return to the second part, as I’ve promised to give two different talks next week and need to work on them!]

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One Response to KGFM 9, 10: Gödelian cosmology, Rindler and Svozil

  1. Jeffrey Ketland says:

    Hi Peter, yeah, definitely – Rindler’s textbook “Essential Relativity” is extremely clear and carefully written – my favourite physics textbook.


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