Kurt Goedel’s Legacy: Does Future lie in the Past?

DATE:Thursday, July 25, 2019 – Saturday, July 27, 2019
VENUE:University of Vienna, Universitätsring 1, 1010 Vienna - Main Ceremonial Chamber

Two events that have had a strong influence on the world of science are celebrating an anniversary this year: the decisive review of Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity is 100 years old. Furthermore, 70 years ago Kurt Gödel proved that the theory of relativity is compatible with closed time lines. This Gödel’s rotating universe shows how time travel is at least mathematically imaginable. For this reason, 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 July 25 to 27, 2019. The general public is invited to attend two admission-free lectures and an exhibition on Kurt Gödel’s contributions.

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 was able to show that under certain conditions 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 imaginable.

Because the reality is a partial and incomplete representation of physical, biological, psychological, and social reality, this uncertainty impacts fields such as mathematics, physics, philosophy, logic, and artificial intelligence. The conference is bringing together some of the most distinguished cosmologists, mathematicians, computer scientists, philosophers, and logicians of our time.

Physics, Mathematics, Philosophy

Among them is Nobel Prize winner Rainer Weiss, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2017 for his discovery of gravitational waves. This finding was the last not yet directly verified prediction of general relativity and confirms their 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. Another 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 Quntum 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 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 Wien, the Department Vienna Circle at University of Vienna (Institut Wiener Kreis) and the Vienna Circle Society.

Public Events

July 25


Juliet Floyd: In and Out of Mind: Wittgenstein and Gödel, Post and Turing (27th Vienna Circle Lecture 2019)
July 26


John D.Barrow: 100 Years of Universes (Wolfgang Rindler in Memoriam Public Lecture)
July 25-27


Special exhibition on the life and work of Kurt Gödel and the Gödel Universe

Curated by Karl Sigmund, and the Vienna Circle Society

In English and German language.

Invited Speakers

  • Markus Aspelmeyer, Physics, University of Vienna
  • John D.Barrow, Cosmology, Theoretical physics, and Mathematics, Grasham College
  • Charles L. Bennett, Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University
  • David Bennett, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and University of Maryland 
  • George F.R. Ellis, Mathematics and Complex Systems, University of Cape Town
  • Juliet Floyd, Philosophy, Boston University
  • Tom Henzinger, Computer science, IST Austria
  • Reinhard Kahle, Philosophy and History of Science, Universität Tübingen
  • Jan von Plato, Logic, University of Helsinki
  • Wolfgang Schleich, Theoretical and Quantum physics, University of Ulm
  • Dana Scott, Logic, Honorary Chair of the Conference
  • Marika Taylor, Theoretical physics and Applied mathematics, University of Southampton
  • Toby Walsh, Artificial intelligence, UNSW
  • Rainer Weiss, Nobel laureate in physics
  • Palle Yourgrau, Philosophy, Brandeis University

More about the invited speakers here.

Program Committee

Call for Talks, Posters, and Papers

The program will consist of the invited talks, contributed talks and posters. The program here

Important dates

  • The submission deadline for contributed talks and posters: April 23, 2019 NEW Deadline for posters is July 24. Expression of interest at office AT vcla DOT at by July 17.
  • Conference: July 25-27, 2019

Kurt Gödel Society

The Kurt Gödel Society was founded in 1987 and is chartered in Vienna. It is an international organization for the promotion of research in the areas of Logic, Philosophy, History of Mathematics, above all in connection with the biography of Kurt Gödel, and in other areas to which Gödel made contributions, especially mathematics, physics, theology, philosophy and Leibniz studies.

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