The Scientist as Rebel (Paperback)
|Author: Freeman Dyson|
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Although Freeman Dyson has described himself as a poor reader, he supplemented his childhood scientific curiosity by voraciously reading the books of science fiction pioneers H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, and William Olaf Stapledon. He attended Cambridge in 1941, majoring in mathematics and specializing in number theory. While there, Dyson served two years as a civilian scientist in the Royal Air Force Bomber Command, making recommendations on how to lessen Allied casualties during World War II, which were largely ignored. After the war, he completed his undergraduate degree in mathematics at Cambridge in 1945 and became a fellow at Trinity College. In 1947, he received a fellowship at Cornell University, where he devised the theory of quantum electrodynamics and became a professor of physics in 1951--a post he later held at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, for over 40 years. Although he is a well-respected theoretical physicist, he is best known for his interest in space travel and the nuclear-powered rocket prototype he created with other members of the Orion Project team in 1958. Tests proved the rocket's functionality, but the project never achieved the governmental support to make this prototype a reality. A frequent lecturer, Dyson has focused many of his talks--some of which are collected in his books--on both the harmful and beneficial innovations that accompany the development of military technologies. Covering a wide spectrum of subjects, Dyson's research and presentations have explored topics including the roles of science and technology in political and ethical debates, methods of problem solving in relation to natural disasters and the scarcity of natural resources, and even the creation of utopian societies in space.