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Maker of Patterns Freeman Dyson

Maker of Patterns von Freeman Dyson

Maker of Patterns Freeman Dyson

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Both recalling his life story and recounting many of the major advances in twentieth-century science, a renowned physicist shares his autobiography through letters.

Maker of Patterns Zusammenfassung

Maker of Patterns: An Autobiography Through Letters Freeman Dyson

Having penned hundreds of letters to his family over four decades, Freeman Dyson has framed them with the reflections made by a man now in his nineties. While maintaining that the letters record the daily life of an ordinary scientist doing ordinary work, Dyson nonetheless has worked with many of the twentieth century's most renowned physicists, mathematicians, and intellectuals, so that Maker of Patterns presents not only his personal story but chronicles through firsthand accounts an exciting era of twentieth-century science.

Though begun in the dark year of 1941 when Hitler's armies had already conquered much of Europe, Dyson's letters to his parents, written at Trinity College, Cambridge, often burst with the curiosity of a precocious seventeen-year-old. Pursuing mathematics and physics with a cast of legendary professors, Dyson thrived in Cambridge's intellectual ferment, working on, for example, the theory of partitions or reading about Kurt Goedel's hypotheses, while still finding time for billiards and mountain climbing. After graduating and serving with the Royal Air Force's Bomber Command operational research section, whose job it was to demolish German cities and kill as many German civilians as possible, Dyson visited a war-torn Germany, hoping through his experience to create a tolerably peaceful world.

Juxtaposing descriptions of scientific breakthroughs with concerns for mankind's future, Dyson's postwar letters reflect the quandaries faced by an entire scientific generation that was dealing with the aftereffects of nuclear detonations and concentration camp killings. Arriving in America in 1947 to study with Cornell's Hans Bethe, Dyson continued to send weekly missives to England that were never technical but written with grace and candor, creating a portrait of a generation that was eager, as Einstein once stated, to solve deep mysteries that Nature intend[ed] to keep for herself.

We meet, among others, scientists like Richard Feynman, who took Dyson across country on Route 66, Robert Oppenheimer, Eugene Wigner, Niels Bohr, James Watson, and a young Stephen Hawking; and we encounter intellectuals and leaders, among them Reinhold Niebuhr, George Kennan, Arthur C. Clarke, as well as Martin Luther King, Jr.

The patterns of comparable beauty in the dance of electrons jumping around atoms invariably replicate themselves in this autobiography told through letters, one that combines accounts of wanton arms development with the not-inconsiderable demands of raising six children. As we once again attempt to guide society toward a more hopeful future, these letters, with their reenactment of what, at first, seems like a distant past, reveal invaluable truths about human nature.

Maker of Patterns Bewertungen

[The letters] cover a remarkable range of scientific interests, acquaintances, opinions and adventures... He says what you wouldn't expect; if Dyson has a pattern, perhaps it is contrariety... The one Dysonian pattern for which the letters hold unequivocal evidence is delight. He uses the word often and invokes it even more...Maybe with some people, you don't look for patterns. You just enjoy their multivariate company. -- Ann Finkbeiner, Nature
There is much in the letters collected here to enjoy; Mr. Dyson writes wonderfully well. -- Ray Monk, The Wall Street Journal
A firsthand account of one of the greatest periods of scientific discovery.... A historic account of modern science and some of its most influential thinkers... An informative collection. -- Library Journal
Who but Dyson formulates revolutionary physics while riding on a Greyhound bus through Iowa cornfields? In other episodes in this remarkable epistolary autobiography, readers join Dyson as he assesses with Goedel equations for a rotating version of Einstein's universe, as he defends Feynman's quantum theorems against Oppenheimer's doubts, and as he explores with Bohr the prospects for a nuclear spaceship. Readers will naturally value what Dyson reveals about how he built his towering reputation as a scientist. But Dyson draws the substance of his narrative from letters he sent his parents between 1940 and 1980, letters in which he discloses quite unscientific aspects of his life-including the joys of romance, marriage, and fatherhood, as well as the trauma of divorce.... Dyson never lets readers forget that, for all of their exceptional intellectual gifts, scientists live human lives defined more by family ties and friendships than by laboratory results. -- Booklist [Starred Review]
Advocates of science will find in Dyson an admirable model. Why go to Mars when we could irrigate the Sahara, he asks. The science of space travel may be 10 times the benefit in the end, he writes, but 'the main purpose is a general enlargement of human horizons.' A pleasure for science students and particularly of science humanely practiced. -- Kirkus Reviews

Über Freeman Dyson

Professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study, Freeman Dyson is an English-born American theoretical physicist and mathematician. The author of Disturbing the Universe, he lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

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Maker of Patterns: An Autobiography Through Letters Freeman Dyson
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