Dyson profiles scientists-Newton Einstein, Teller, Feynman-whose independent thought allowed them to make great conceptual leaps.
Freeman Dyson has spent most of his life as a professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, taking time off to advise the US government and write books for the general public. He was born in England and worked as a civilian scientist for the Royal Air Force during World War II. He came to Cornell University as a graduate student in 1947 and worked with Hans Bethe and Richard Feynman, producing a user-friendly way to calculate the behavior of atoms and radiation. He also worked on nuclear reactors, solid-state physics, ferromagnetism, astrophysics, and biology, looking for problems where elegant mathematics could be usefully applied. Dyson's books include Disturbing the Universe (1979), Weapons and Hope (1984), Infinite in All Directions (1988), Origins of Life (1986, second edition 1999), and The Sun, the Genome and the Internet (1999). He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the Royal Society of London. In 2000 he was awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.