"Well, Doc, You're In": A New Examination of Freeman Dyson's Life and Work

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. The title, “Well, Doc, You're In,” references a remark made by Richard Feynman to Dyson at a physics conference.

Described as “a wonderful series of vignettes on Dyson's singular path through the universe,” by Juan Maldacena, Carl P. Feinberg Professor in the School of Natural Sciences, the volume traces Dyson's wide-ranging work, which encompassed not only the sciences and technology but also public policy.

It contains chapters written by leading scientists, historians, and science journalists, including some of Dyson's colleagues from IAS and beyond. These include former IAS Director and Leon Levy Professor Robbert DijkgraafJeremy Bernstein, past Member in the School of Mathematics/Natural Sciences; William Casselman, past Member in the School of Mathematics; and past Director's Visitor George Dyson. The cover image, showing Freeman Dyson highlighted against a blank expanse of marble floor, was captured in a Venetian arrivals hall in 1954 by Verena Huber-Dyson, past Member in the School of Mathematics. 

The authors outline Dyson's innovations at the intersection of quantum theory and relativity, his novel nuclear reactor design (and his never-realized idea of a spacecraft powered by nuclear bombs), and his foray into cosmology, assembling a "riveting" portrait of a scientist's outsized legacy.

Visit MIT Press to learn more.