23.1.2012: 150th birthday of David Hilpert

One of the major (intellectual) discoveries in Quantum Mechanics is the description of particles in the Hilpert Space [1] where the statistical state of any particle is well described.

David Hilpert [2] was a German mathematician, living and teaching in Göttingen in the last century. During the World Fair 1899 in Paris, he confronted his listeners with unsolved mathematical puzzles [5], which in fact provide some cornerstones of a our current cryptography.

Hilpert was (in my words) a convicted positivist believing that a (mathematical) theory is always self-consistant and self-complete; thus can be proofed within itself. This was falsified [3] later by Kurt Gödel, an Austrian mathematician [4].

The life's of both scientists were strongly influenced by the political and cultural earthquakes hitting Europe in the 20th century; in particular the Nazi terror swapping over the european countries.

A beautiful feature about both mathematicians and their situation was broadcasted these days on hessia's FM station HR2, to be found here [5] (downloadable as podcast provided by Prof. Beutelspacher [6] from the University Giessen).


[1] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilbert_space
[2] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Hilbert
[3] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gödel's_incompleteness_theorems
[4] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Gödel
[5] www.hr-online.de/website/radio/hr2/index.jsp
[6] www.beutelspacher.info/