Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Physicist and climate skeptic Freeman Dyson has sadly passed away following a fall earlier this week.
RIP Freeman Dyson: The super-boffin who applied his mathematical brain to nuclear magic, quantum physics, space travel, and more
Science’s civil rebel dies aged 96
By Katyanna Quach 28 Feb 2020 at 22:53
Video Freeman Dyson, the eminent British-American physicist and mathematician best known for his theoretical work in quantum electrodynamics, died today. He was 96.
His death was announced by his daughter Mia Dyson via Maine public television and the Institute of Advanced Study (IAS) – the top research hub in Princeton, New Jersey, once home to Albert Einstein, John von Neumann, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and other giants of science and technology.
Mia said her father accidentally fell on Wednesday during one of his regular visits to his office at the IAS, where he had worked from 1953 until 1994. He died from his injuries at a hospital on Friday morning.
“No life is more entangled with the onstitute and impossible to capture — architect of modern particle physics, free-range mathematician, advocate of space travel, astrobiology and disarmament, futurist, eternal graduate student, rebel to many preconceived ideas including his own, thoughtful essayist, all the time a wise observer of the human scene,” said Robbert Dijkgraaf, the Director and Leon Levy Professor at the IAS. “His secret was simply saying ‘yes’ to everything in life, till the very end.”
…Read more: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2020/02/28/freeman_dyson/
Dyson was a giant of 20th century physics. The most memorable thing about Dyson from my point of view was his fearlessness; he was always someone who chose his own path, a rebel to the very end.
Dyson’s views on climate change and politics were complex. Dyson was a climate skeptic but he also strongly supported President Obama. He thought President Obama’s support for climate action was an unfortunate mistake in an otherwise excellent policy programme.
Climate activists were frequently triggered by Dyson’s outspoken views; because of his scientific reputation, because of his bipartisan fan base, because he was always ready to speak his mind, Dyson was an ongoing thorn in their sides, a significant impediment to their efforts to convince the world to embrace climate action.
I loved reading Dyson’s visionary articles and work, his son George Dyson’s book about Project Orion shows how close Dyson and his fellow scientists came to opening our way to the stars. They developed a known technology space drive with capabilities straight out of science fiction, so powerful yet affordable it could conceivably have propelled a manned mission to Alpha Centauri, or boosted space colonisation efforts by transporting entire cities to other planets or the Asteroid belt.
For his fearlessness, his vision, and many other reasons, Freeman Dyson’s legacy will endure; he will be remembered as one of the giants of the 20th Century.