Freeman Dyson profile

1 minute read

In my book, what it takes to be a rockin’ physicist is coming up with something that forms the basis of entire series of sci-fi novels. So Freeman Dyson qualifies. The NY Times Magazine profiles him, focusing on his recent skepticism about climate change, but broadly covering his quirky career and blend of science and political advocacy.

Dyson is well aware that most consider me wrong about global warming. That educated Americans tend to agree with the conclusion about global warming reached earlier this month at the International Scientific Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen (inaction is inexcusable) only increases Dysons resistance. Dyson may be an Obama-loving, Bush-loathing liberal who has spent his life opposing American wars and fighting for the protection of natural resources, but he brooks no ideology and has a withering aversion to scientific consensus. The Nobel physics laureate Steven Weinberg admires Dysons physics he says he thinks the Nobel committee fleeced him by not awarding his work on quantum electrodynamics with the prize but Weinberg parts ways with his sensibility: I have the sense that when consensus is forming like ice hardening on a lake, Dyson will do his best to chip at the ice.

“Ice hardening on a lake” – quite a metaphor. I think you may do lots of good science as you help the lake crystallize, but it’s only the ice-chippers that have a chance of making a splash. Or falling in.

Anyway, it’s got lots of stuff on Dyson’s life story and work; I found it a very interesting read.