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Book Title: The Scientist as Rebel|
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 6.29 MB
ISBN 13: 9781590172162
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Reader ratings: 6.9
The author of the book: Freeman Dyson
Edition: New York Review Books
Date of issue: November 14th 2006
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An illuminating collection of essays by an award-winning scientist whom the London Times calls “one of the world’s most original minds.”
From Galileo to today’s amateur astronomers, scientists have been rebels, writes Freeman Dyson. Like artists and poets, they are free spirits who resist the restrictions their cultures impose on them. In their pursuit of Nature’s truths, they are guided as much by imagination as by reason, and their greatest theories have the uniqueness and beauty of great works of art.
Dyson argues that the best way to understand science is by understanding those who practice it. He tells stories of scientists at work, ranging from Isaac Newton’s absorption in physics, alchemy, theology, and politics, to Ernest Rutherford’s discovery of the structure of the atom, to Albert Einstein’s stubborn hostility to the idea of black holes. His descriptions of brilliant physicists like Edward Teller and Richard Feynman are enlivened by his own reminiscences of them. He looks with a skeptical eye at fashionable scientific fads and fantasies, and speculates on the future of climate prediction, genetic engineering, the colonization of space, and the possibility that paranormal phenomena may exist yet not be scientifically verifiable.
Dyson also looks beyond particular scientific questions to reflect on broader philosophical issues, such as the limits of reductionism, the morality of strategic bombing and nuclear weapons, the preservation of the environment, and the relationship between science and religion. These essays, by a distinguished physicist who is also a lovely writer, offer informed insights into the history of science and fresh perspectives on contentious current debates about science, ethics, and faith.
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Read information about the authorFreeman Dyson is a physicist and educator best known for his speculative work on extraterrestrial civilizations and for his work in quantum electrodynamics, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering. He theorized several concepts that bear his name, such as Dyson's transform, Dyson tree, Dyson series, and Dyson sphere.
The son of a musician and composer, Dyson was educated at the University of Cambridge. As a teenager he developed a passion for mathematics, but his studies at Cambridge were interrupted in 1943, when he served in the Royal Air Force Bomber Command. He received a B.A. from Cambridge in 1945 and became a research fellow of Trinity College. In 1947 he went to the United States to study physics and spent the next two years at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., and Princeton, where he studied under J. Robert Oppenheimer, then director of the Institute for Advanced Study. Dyson returned to England in 1949 to become a research fellow at the University of Birmingham, but he was appointed professor of physics at Cornell in 1951 and two years later at the Institute for Advanced Study, where he became professor emeritus in 2000. He became a U.S. citizen in 1957.
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