| The poetry of reality|
|We must know. |
We will know.
|A view from the|
shoulders of giants.
Freeman John Dyson (1923─2020) was a renowned British physicist and mathematician. He worked on quantum field theory, astronomy, solid-state physics, and nuclear engineering. He received numerous awards, but never a Nobel. Physicist Steven Weinberg said that Dyson was "fleeced" by the Nobel commission. He led the design team for the TRIGA nuclear reactor, which is in widespread use today, and was also known for his nuclear disarmament advocacy. He was the president of the Space Studies Institute before his death.
Concepts in science and futurology
- Dyson series: A byproduct in his work on quantum electrodynamics, unifying the approaches of Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomogana (operators) and Richard Feynman (path integrals).
- Dyson sphere: A theoretical structure to catch sunlight for energy that would eventually enclose an entire star.
- Dyson tree: A theoretical genetically engineered plant capable of growing on a comet.
- Theorized space colonies.
- Astrochicken: A theoretical combination nanotech-biological spacecraft.
- Dyson's transform: A technique later used to prove that every even integer is the sum of at most 6 primes.
- Parasitic numbers, as if you didn't have enough to worry about already.
Dyson considered himself a non-denominational Christian and believed in non-overlapping magisteria. Some of the material he had written on metaphysics, though, is much less Christian than it is reminiscent of various theories of quantum consciousness, panentheism, panpsychism, and other sorts of New Agey science woo.
Dyson succumbed to old age crank syndrome as well, becoming a global warming denier. However, he never did any actual criticizing of climate science besides dismissing the models as flawed and saying that if it is a real problem, we can easily cook up some super-tree to suck the carbon dioxide out of the air. Dyson's support for deniers seems to have been the result of wanting to stick it to the scientific man:
So… yeah, thanks for that.
- Gleick J. Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman. New York: Pantheon Books; 1992.
- Dyson on global warming, see also A response to Freeman Dyson's "Heretical Thoughts" and In it for the Gold's debunkings