from NPR

Physicist And Iconoclastic Thinker Freeman Dyson Dies At 96


Acclaimed physicist Freeman Dyson, who pondered the origins of life, interstellar travel and many other topics, died Friday at the age of 96.

His daughter Mia Dyson told NPR that her father died after a short illness. 

Freeman Dyson was known for groundbreaking work in physics and mathematics but his curiosity ranged far beyond those fields. 

“He never got a Ph.D.,” says Robbert Dijkgraaf, director for the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., where Dyson worked. “He felt he was an eternal graduate student, and so he had a license to be interested in everything.”

Dyson was born in Crowthorne, England, in 1923. He studied physics and mathematics at Trinity College in Cambridge, where he worked with physicists including Paul Dirac and Arthur Eddington. During World War II, he was a civilian scientist with the Royal Air Force’s Bomber Command. 

After the war, he came to the U.S. to study physics. Together with physicist Richard Feynman, he was able to reconcile two competing theories of quantum electrodynamics, the study of how sub-atomic particles and light interact. “He was able to show that all these different points of view were one and the same thing,” Dijkgraaf says. “He was a great unifier of physics.”

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