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Physicist Freeman Dyson, Who Has Recorded Stories of His Life and Work with Web of Stories, Celebrates His 90th Birthday

Born in England on 15 December 1923, Freeman Dyson graduated from Cambridge University in 1945 with a BA in mathematics. In 1947, he moved to the USA where he went to work at Cornell University and, later, at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

London, United Kingdom, December 11, 2013 --( Freeman Dyson is recognised for demonstrating the equivalence of two formulations of quantum electrodynamics: Richard Feynman's diagrams, and the operator method developed by Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga. He wrote that Feynman's diagrams were not just a computational tool but a physical theory, and he developed rules for the diagrams that solved the problem of renormalization. Dyson presented Feynman's theories in a form that other physicists could understand enabling them to finally accept Feynman's work. Robert Oppenheimer, who recognised the critical role Dyson had played, awarded him a lifetime appointment at the Institute for Advanced Study.

Dyson also worked on the Orion Project, which proposed the possibility of space-flight using nuclear pulse propulsion. However, the project was abandoned in 1963. He has authored many books and has been awarded a number of prizes, including the Templeton Prize for progress in Religion.

In these fascinating recordings, you can watch Dyson tell his life story in his own words. He remembers how, during World War II, he worked in Bomber Command and would work on his mathematics as a welcome distraction to occupy his mind. Dyson says, "The theorem I proved was the extension of Mann's theorem to more than two sequences... That was one of the most satisfying things I ever did. It's a really beautiful piece of work."

He also recounts his decision to turn his back on pure mathematics, embracing physics as an alternative, after he failed to solve the Siegel conjecture: "I couldn't solve a problem which would have been really an important contribution to mathematics... So I decided, well, I might as well do physics and which is at least as interesting and more important."

He talks about his good fortune in getting to know Richard Feynman and his ground-breaking work: "I became a sort of an interested spectator, watching him work out his version of quantum electrodynamics... He had these amazing ways of calculating with diagrams, where you didn't have to have equations but you simply wrote down the answers, and instead of solving equations the way other people did, he just wrote down the answers by looking at the pictures."

These, and countless other intriguing recordings from Dyson and other contributors, can be watched as short films with fully searchable transcripts. All Web of Stories videos are easy to share with friends and colleagues, and may be embedded into personal blogs and websites.
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Web of Stories Ltd
Grazyna Dobosz
+44 (0)20 7323 0323

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