Freeman Dyson first came to the Institute as a Member in 1948 and was appointed a Professor in 1953. He has made highly original and important contributions to an astonishing range of topics, from number theory to adaptive optics. His work on quantum electrodynamics marked an epoch in physics, and the techniques he used form the foundation for most modern theoretical work in elementary particle physics and the quantum many-body problem.
In this excerpt from “Well, Doc, You’re In” Freeman Dyson’s Journey through the Universe, edited by David Kaiser, Freeman Dyson and friend Peter Sankey ascend the New Court clock tower at St. John’s College, Cambridge during a wartime blackout.
The life and work of renowned scientist, visionary, and iconoclast Freeman Dyson, who spent most of his career at the Institute for Advanced Study, is the focus of a new book edited by American physicist and historian of science David Kaiser.
Natalie Wolchover, Director's Visitor (2017), interviews Freeman J. Dyson, Professor Emeritus in the School of Natural Sciences, and Karen Uhlenbeck, Visiting Professor in the School of Mathematics, on the close interconnection between mathematics and physics.
Professor Emeritus Freeman Dyson reads from his book Maker of Patterns: An Autobiography through Letters, a collection of personal letters to relatives, written between 1940 and the late 1970s, followed by a conversation with Director and Leon Levy Professor Robbert Dijkgraaf.
Freeman Dyson, Professor Emeritus
in the School of Natural Sciences, has authored Maker of
Patterns: An Autobiography Through Letters (Liveright, 2018).
The book is a collection of personal letters to relatives, written
between 1940 and the late...
When Fang Lizhi, one of China’s most distinguished
scientists, began in 1986 to talk to his students about the
“universal rights” of human beings, he knew the risks. In those
days, the use of the term “rights” in China was highly sensitive,
This book was written when I spent a year at the Institute
for Advanced Study. It is hard to imagine an environment that is
more stimulating or more congenial to writing. Many colleagues at
the Institute helped shape my thinking, but six deserve...
The Institute sometimes spends money on risky ventures, giving
sustained support to people who work on unfashionable and dubious
projects. One example of a risky venture was Einstein, who worked
here for twenty years on unified field theories that...
Christmas Day, 1942, was the three hundredth birthday of Isaac
Newton. I was then an undergraduate at Trinity College, Cambridge.
Since Newton was our most famous fellow, the college organized a
meeting to celebrate his birthday. Since it was war...
The Macdonald Equation is the most beautiful thing that I ever
discovered. It belongs to the theory of numbers, the most useless
and ancient branch of mathematics. My friend Ian Macdonald had the
joy of discovering it first, and I had the almost...