The Big Bang

December 7, 1947
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Yesterday I had a talk with [Hans] Bethe about my future. . . . He said I should spend the second year at Princeton with [J. Robert] Oppenheimer, and that Oppenheimer would be glad to look after me. When I first went to see [Rudolf] Peierls at Birmingham, he told me that Oppenheimer was the deepest thinker at present in the field of physics, but at that time he was director of the physics departmentf the University of California and still involved in a lot of secret work at Los Alamos, so that my position would be fairly dubious if I went to work with him. However, this summer Oppenheimer announced that he was fed up with all this secrecy and wanted to do some real physics, threw up the California job, and moved to [the Institute of Advanced Study in] Princeton. So one could hardly ask for anything better than to go to him.

The above text has been excerpted from Professor Emeritus Freeman Dyson's forthcoming Maker of Patterns: An Autobiography Through Letters (Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2018), a compilation of letters written to relatives between 1941 and 1978.

Read more at the New York Review of Books.