Read Disturbing the Universe by Freeman Dyson Online


Spanning the years from World War II, when he was a civilian statistician in the operations research section of the Royal Air Force Bomber Command, through his studies with Hans Bethe at Cornell University, his early friendship with Richard Feynman, and his postgraduate work with J. Robert Oppenheimer, Freeman Dyson has composed an autobiography unlike any other. Dyson evoSpanning the years from World War II, when he was a civilian statistician in the operations research section of the Royal Air Force Bomber Command, through his studies with Hans Bethe at Cornell University, his early friendship with Richard Feynman, and his postgraduate work with J. Robert Oppenheimer, Freeman Dyson has composed an autobiography unlike any other. Dyson evocatively conveys the thrill of a deep engagement with the world-be it as scientist, citizen, student, or parent. Detailing a unique career not limited to his groundbreaking work in physics, Dyson discusses his interest in minimizing loss of life in war, in disarmament, and even in thought experiments on the expansion of our frontiers into the galaxies....

Title : Disturbing the Universe
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ISBN : 9780465016778
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 304 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Disturbing the Universe Reviews

  • John
    2019-05-26 00:19

    I don't remember now why I came to read something by Freeman Dyson. But something compelled me to consider his writings, so the next time I was in the library at BYU I checked out two of his books, this one and Infinite in All Directions. So far I have not been disappointed.Disturbing the Universe is largely autobiographical, describing much of Dyson's beliefs and discoveries in the context of his life's journey. I was impressed by his fantastic views of the future. For instance he has proposed that "One should expect that, within a few thousand years of its entering the stage of industrial development, any intelligent species should be found occupying an artificial biosphere which completely surrounds its parent star." This vision of the future (for us) and the possible present (in distant galaxies) has been called a Dyson Sphere. He also imagines, "...a solar energy system based upon green technology, after we have learned to read and write the language of DNA so that we can reprogram the growth and metabolism of a tree. All that is visible above ground is a valley filled with redwood trees, as quiet and shady as the Muir Woods below Mount Tamalpais in California. These trees do not grow as fast as natural redwoods. Instead of mainly synthesizing cellulose, their cells make pure alcohol or octane or whatever other chemical we find convenient. While their sap rises through one set of vessels, the fuel that they synthesize flows downward through another set of vessels into their roots. Underground, the roots form a living network of pipelines transporting fuel down the valley. The living pipelines connect at widely separated points to a nonliving pipeline that takes the fuel out of the valley to wherever it is needed. When we have mastered the technology of reprogramming trees, we shall be able to grow such plantations wherever there is land that can support natural forests. ... Once the plantations are grown, they may be permanent and self-repairing, needing only the normal attentions of a forester to keep them healthy." This future foliage is not surprisingly called a Dyson tree. Dyson's view of the future is refreshingly optimistic.I found Dyson's prose to be very readable. He is a scientist and presumably writes scientific papers in dense scientific language, but for this book he writes like a novelist. He is very even-handed in his treatment of the social, political, and scientific issues he discusses. I found the whole book to be interesting and entertaining.One of the last things I expected from this book was a spiritual uplift, yet there it was in the latter chapters. In particular I was moved by his last few paragraphs. He had mentioned the biblical Elijah's experience with the Lord not being in the wind or in the earthquake or in the fire, but then hearing a still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-13). Dyson wrote that he had not heard the still small voice, but later he writes, "The still small voice comes to me, as it came to Elijah, unexpectedly..."I am sitting in the kitchen at home in America, having lunch with my wife and children. I am grumbling as usual about the bureaucracy. For years we have been complaining to lower-level officials and there has never been any response. 'Why don't you go straight to the top?' says my wife. 'If I were you I would just telephone the head office.' I pick up the phone and dial the number. This comes as a big surprise to the children. They know how much I hate telephoning, and they like to tease me about it. Usually I will make all kinds of excuses to avoid making a call, especially when it is to somebody I don't know personally. But this time I take the plunge without hesitation. The children sit silent, robbed of their chance to make fun of my telephone phobia. To my amazement, the secretary answers at once in a friendly voice and asks what I want. I say I would like an appointment. She says, 'Good,. I have put you down for today at five.' I say, 'May I bring the children?' She says, 'Of course.' As I put down the phone I realize with a shock that we have ony an hour to get ourselves ready."I ask the children if they want to come. I tell them we are going to talk to God and they had better behave themselves. Only the two younger girls are interested. I am glad not to have the whole crowd on my hands. So we say goodbye to the others quickly, before they have time to change their minds. It is just the three of us. We slip out of the house quietly and walk into town to the office."The office is a large building. The inside of it looks like a church, but there is no ceiling. When we look up, we see that the building disappears into the distance like an elevator shaft. We hold hands and jump off the ground and go up the shaft. I look at my watch and see that we have only a few minutes left before five o'clock. Luckily, we are going up fast, and it looks as if we shall be in time for our appointment. Just as the watch says five, we arrive at the top of the shaft and walk out into an enormous throne room. The room has whitewashed walls and heavy black oak beams. Facing us at the end of the room is a flight of steps with the throne at the top. The throne is a huge wooden affair with wicker back and sides. I walk slowly toward it, with the two girls following behind. They are a little nervous, and so am I. It seems there is nobody here. I look at my watch again. Probably God did not expect us to be so punctual. We stand at the foot of the steps, waiting for something to happen."Nothing happens. After a few minutes I decide to climb the steps and have a closer look at the throne. The girls are shy and stay at the bottom. I walk up until my eyes are level with the seat. I see then that the throne is not empty after all. There is a three-month-old baby lying on the seat and smiling at me. I pick him up and show him to the girls. They run up the steps and take turns carrying him. After they give him back to me, I stay with him for a few minutes longer, holding him in my arms without saying a word. In the silence I gradually become aware that the questions I had intended to raise with him have been answered. I put him gently back on his throne and say goodbye. The girls hold my hands and we walk down the steps together."This is the end of the book. I don't know whether what he related was a dream or just from his imagination, but it moved me greatly. If you like any of the extensive quotes I've given, you should read this book. You won't regret it.

  • Jee Koh
    2019-05-05 21:42

    On hearing that I am working on a book of essays, WL lent me Freeman Dyson's Disturbing the Universe. He was a professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. "Born in England," the biographical note continues, " he came over to Cornell University in 1947 as a Commonwealth Fellow and settled permanently in the U.S. in 1951." A summary of his career, the next paragraph also indicates the topics of his essays: "Professor Dyson is not only a theoretical physicist; his career has spanned a large variety of practical concerns. His is a unique career inspired by direct involvement with the most pressing concerns of human life, minimizing loss of life in war, to disarmament, to thought experiments on the expansion of our frontiers into the galaxies." From his essays, it is clear that Dyson is that rare thing, a man deeply passionate about both science and literature. His essays make reference to Goethe's Faust, Auden and Isherwood's The Ascent of F6, H. G. Wells's The Island of Doctor Moreau, John Milton's great defense of press freedom Areopagitica. The title of the book comes from T. S. Eliot's poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." The first essay "The Magic City," my favorite of the book, is a meditation on the frightening pertinence of Edith Nesbit's children's story of the same name to the abuse of science in our contemporary world. Dyson himself is a very good writer, lucid and graceful. The force of the writing comes not only from style, however, but also from the moral discrimination that Dyson wields in confronting his life and the world's problems. He blamed himself for not taking any action though he knew as a civilian statistician at the Research Division that the Allies' strategic bombing of German cities in the last years of WWII was not only unconscionable but also ineffective and lethal only to the lives of RAF pilots. He made the interesting argument that it was the Americans' success at firebombing Tokyo that paved the way to the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. Having built up a Strategic Bombing Command at great cost, the Allies were almost bound to use it. In another fine essay, "The Blood of a Poet," Dyson paid a heartfelt tribute to his Winchester schoolfriend Frank Thompson whose intelligence and liveliness marked him out as a leader of men. He was a poet too. He joined the Communist Party and enlisted in the war from the start in 1939. While playing the dangerous role of the Allies' liaison with Bulgarian partisans, he was captured and executed by the Fascists, but not before giving his audience their common sign of liberty, a salute with a clenched fist, and thus inspiring the men captured with him to do the same and march to their deaths with heads held high.The other portraits in this book are of his fellow physicists at Cornell and Princeton. Dick Feynman and his intuitions. His opposite, Julian Schwinger and his mathematical equations. The mercurial arrogance of Robert Oppenheimer. The humanity of Hans Bethe. Dyson contrasts the egotism of the physicists with the cooperative spirit of the engineers. He also astutely observes how all the Los Alamos alumni spoke nostalgically of the A-bomb project as a time of thrilling camaraderie. He is clear about the constant temptation facing scientists of treating all questions, even those with vast moral consequences, as merely technical questions. He humanizes the public perception of Edward Teller, who spoke against Oppenheimer at the latter's security hearings. The scientists, all intellectual giants, are shown to be human and fallible. The portraits, however, are not malicious. They are suffused with affection and admiration. Dyson is not therefore blind to faults. The last section of the book, which takes up the subjects of space exploration and extra-terrestrials, is less interesting to me than the two earlier sections, "England" and "America." Someone of a more speculative cast of mind will enjoy these essays. When Dyson shades into mysticism in the last essay, finding a Mind behind the mind at work in making quantum observations, and the mind beyond brain cells and synapses, he loses me.

  • Erik Graff
    2019-05-02 03:44

    I first encountered the author by references to "Dyson Spheres"--an idea which he credits to Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker--in various books and by his having provided a foreword to a science fiction novel I'd read. Then, more recently, going through about twenty years of back issues of the New York Review of Books, I found that many of the best science reviews were by him. This led me to pick up his pseudo-autobiography when encountering it at the Evanston Library booksale room a couple of days ago.I call this a pseudo-autobiography because it was published as a volume in a series of books designed to familiarize laypersons with modern physical sciences. The authors, all prominent scientists, could pretty much do what they wanted and Dyson chose--as he does in many of his NY Review articles--to mix personal anecdotes and a rough chronology of his life with snippets about the very diverse kinds of scientific work he has engaged in. This work has ranged from mathematics, to theoretical physics, to astrophysics, to nuclear technology, to cybernetics etc. Then, canibalizing from other publications, he ends the whole with some scientific prognostications. If it weren't for the fact that some of the patchwork assemblage towards the book's end doesn't fit seamlessly I'd give this book five stars. The first half of it, the most autobiographical portion, is of a piece and very well written, even quite moving, particularly when he mixes anecdote and poetry to make an ethical point.

  • John Jr.
    2019-05-01 03:32

    Some thoughts in lieu of a genuine, full-fledged review; I read the book too long ago to have a complete recollection.If, within the field of science, the terms "great thinker" or "genius" evoke for you no one other than Albert Einstein and perhaps Stephen Hawking, reading this book will reveal another to you. Unlike some great thinkers, Dyson is also not merely a capable writer but an admirable stylist, who is equally at ease in recounting personal history and in discussing science, arguing military and political strategy where weapons are concerned, or speculating about a future in space.Three randomly chosen elements of this book that made a mark on me:1) Dyson discusses what should've been a simple design issue with the Lancaster bomber--if a hatch were widened, the emergency exit of aircrew during WWII bombing raids would've been easier, probably saving lives. (As I recall, the hatch was big enough for a man but not a man already wearing a parachute.) But the peculiar British inflexibility in military thinking blocked this as well as another potential improvement.2) Dyson recounts his thinking on the 1986 disarmament talks between Reagan and Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland, in which the possibility of total bilateral nuclear disarmament stalled over a quibble about Reagan's SDI (the so-called "Star Wars" missile-defense system). Reasonable minds have differed on this outcome, but Dyson's arguments left me in no doubt that the agreement that didn't happen would've been preferable and that Reagan more than Gorbachev was responsible for the failure.3) As part of a broader treatment of the possibilities for human life in space, Dyson engages in some estimates of the costs of two privately funded colonization efforts from the past--the Mayflower pilgrims and the Mormon pioneers who settled Utah--and supposes that homesteading the asteroids might be feasible on the same privately funded basis, and even at roughly the same cost in man-years of income per family as the Mayflower expedition.In light of number three, I can't help wondering whether the cost calculations today would be different, and also whether any of the buccaneer capitalists who are developing ways for the wealthy to take short thrill rides into space are also thinking farther ahead. If they aren't, someone should be. As Stephen Hawking has argued, our current planet may become less habitable over time (just as Hawking's body has done); it'd be smart for us to consider other places to live.

  • Scott
    2019-04-30 21:33

    My wife received this book in the mail from a Hungarian Anthropologist working in Australia. She respects him for his knowledge and success. He sent it to her because he said it was an insightful read. We have had it sitting around for a few years and she has been too busy to read it. I have lugged it around from the US, England, Hungary and now Grenada. I tried to start it once but it was awkward to hold and with two pages being on one and being bound on the short side of the paper. Now I said I was going to get into it and finish it, and that's precisely what I did. It is a book that covers most of the man's fascinating lifetime and highlighting the most prominent and interesting thoughts, projects and people that Freeman Dyson came across. He epitomized my thirst for knowledge and understanding of the world. By teaching himself differential equations as a youth in Winchester to trying to understand England's obsession with history. I was also introduced to the work "The Magic City" and the visions of its author for future dilemmas. He also delved into Faust. His "matter of factness" when discussing these amazing topics and ideas made them not seem to unattainable, and made me want to delve into these overwhelming thinkers and their understanding of the world. He goes on to talk about his amazing work as a physicist at Cornell, Princeton and many other universities. His work with the Los Alamos group is particularly intriguing. I don't want to give away the whole book, but I will highlight some interesting topics: World Defense, Nuclear Disarmament, The Island of Doctor Moreau, cloning, Thought experiments, UFO's, Space Exploration/Colonization and of course God and the Argument for Design. Inspirational and thought provoking. If I were a teacher I would make this required reading regardless of the course.

  • Ari
    2019-05-26 00:34

    Dyson is a brilliant scientist and a born contrarian. He also writes with depth and beauty. This book is one part memoir, one part reflection on science and society, one part speculation about nature. Despite being some decades old. the book feels fresh, and most of it is still exactly as relevant as when it was written.Here is one passage that I especially liked. It describes a part of my feeling about science that I had never seen described before: "Much of the joy of science is is the joy of solid work done by skilled workers. Many of us are happy to spend our lives in collaborative efforts where to be reliable is more important than to be original. There is great satisfaction in building good tools for other people to use. We do not all have the talent or ambition to become prima donnas. The essential factor which keeps the scientific enterprise healthy is a shared respect for quality. Everybody can take pride in the quality of his own work, and we expect rough treatment from our colleagues whenever we produce something shoddy. The knowledge that quality counts makes even routine tasks rewarding."One of the main social divisions in postwar American science is how people felt about Oppenheimer and the hydrogen bomb, and this shows up in just about every memoir or biography from the period. Teller, Alvarez, von Neumann and Lawrence were in favor of the super, and distrustful of Oppenheimer. Most of the rest of the community was loyal to Oppenheimer, skeptical of the super, and furious at Teller. Dyson, being a contrarian, somehow managed to stay friends with Teller while also respectful to Oppenheimer and skeptical of the bomb.

  • Nick Black
    2019-05-19 20:31

    Amazon 2008-06-10. Having recently realized the multilayered magnificence of Dyson'sThe Scientist as Rebel, I'm determined to read the man's extent.Dear lord, Freeman Dyson is becoming a massive hero. The man simply doesn't write a lacking page, and much. In my reading, I've found my incidental similars in Robert Oppenheimer and John von Neumann; if I were to pattern myself after anyone, it would be Mr. Dyson. I don't know anything so uplifting and wonderful.This book is so, so awesome thus far. I've cried numerous times, laughed, raised my clenched fist in salute, and smoked many cigarettes pacing my front yard's circumference withDisturbing the Universe. I've had it only since getting home from work, but it's already become a critical part of me -- I hope.

  • Joseph
    2019-05-13 01:41

    I'll admit I knew little of Freeman Dyson until hearing him interviewed on one of my favorite podcasts. Based on that interview, I made it a point to read this book. A physicist, astronomer, and mathematician, Dyson shows himself to be more of a deep thinker and man of letters than one might normally (and therefore narrow-mindedly, I might add) expect from a scientist with ties to Robert Oppenheimer, Edward Teller, and Los Alamos. With all that is happening today at the Fukushima nuclear power facility, Dyson's message regarding the human impact of technology - written in 1979 - is chillingly prescient.

  • Al Maki
    2019-05-08 23:17

    Freeman Dyson is always worth reading. Extremely intelligent (a nuclear physicist), articulate, critical of his own thinking and others, unpretentious and humane. He started his career during WWII and wrote an interesting book review published this week (60 years later on 2/20/14) in the NYRB. He also turned me on to E. Nesbit, another excellent mind. You should read this and anything else you can find by him.

  • lmjohns3
    2019-05-09 22:30

    I was surprised and impressed by this memoir. Dyson is a fluent writer, and his background has provided him with a wealth of inspiration from all manner of disciplines. Here he manages to blend poetry, physics, politics, and morality into a coherent whole, all the while shedding light, from a simple explication of his perspective, on many pivotal decades of our past.

  • Robert
    2019-05-14 01:25

    I enjoyed Freeman Dyson’s personal recollections in Disturbing the Universe (1979). He recounts one of those early encounters, this one between Szilard and Bethe:“The physicist Leo Szilard once announced to his friend Hans Bethe that he was thinking of keeping a diary: ‘I don’t intend to publish it; I am merely going to record the facts for the information of God.’ ‘Don’t you think God knows the facts?’ Bethe asked. ‘Yes,’ said Szilard. ‘He knows the facts, but He does not know this version of the facts.’”I quickly related to the technological aspects of his experiences, although, from the perspective of a community of engineers [1]. Dyson writes, “In our world, thousands of scientists play with millions of toys, but only a few of their toys grow big. The majority of technological ventures remain toys, of interest only to specialists and historians.” He adds, “A small number succeed spectacularly and become part of the fabric of our lives. Even with the advantage of hindsight it is difficult to understand why one technology is overwhelmingly successful and another is stillborn.” Most of us recognize the success of the toy we call the iPhone, while other toys, such as Microsoft’s Zune, a media player, never gained traction in the marketplace. In my experience I witnessed the success of SONET in optical transport [2] while its competing technology, Syntran (Synchronous Transmission), never caught fire. In another technological example, VHS tapes became popular while the competing BETA tape technology fizzled. In another recollection, Dyson offers a self-analysis, “I was, and have always remained, a problem solver rather than a creator of ideas. I cannot, as Bohr and Feynman did, sit for years with my whole mind concentrated upon one deep question.” Dyson explains, “I am interested in too many different things . . . I followed my destiny into pure mathematics, into nuclear engineering, into space technology and astronomy, solving problems that [Oppenheimer] rightly considered remote from the mainstream of physics.”Many of us are like Dyson. We chose to toil on many different projects in our work careers, and often, these assignments may stray from our field of education and training. Like Dyson, we enjoy solving problems and completing an assortment of projects. Check out his book. You’ll enjoying completing it.[1] See A World Perspective through 21st Century Eyes for more on the engineering perspective of the world.[2] For more on the power of SONET see The Upstart Startup: How Cement Transformed Cisco.

  • Claus Brinker
    2019-05-11 22:22

    This is a memoir written in 1979 by a physicist/nuclear engineer/futurist consisting of three parts. The first is about his childhood and youth and England. The second and longest part is about his professional life in America. And the third is a series of connected essays that deal with the philosophy of science and the potential discoveries that we have in store for us. Much of the book deals with the Cold War and nuclear proliferation. Dyson does a lot of moralizing and he seems totally captive to a liberal democratic viewpoint that is somewhat tepid and at times seems contradictory to what he believes about science. Dyson's vision of the future was very ambitious and he imagined that we would be much further along than we are today. This slowness is in part due to the political system and ideals he advocates. I wonder if he still thinks the same way today, given the current state of the world. Still, this was a thought provoking read, in particular the last part.

  • Bill
    2019-05-06 02:41

    A few notable physicists also write well. Interesting and widely-ranging "autobiography"by a man who worked on nuclear bombs, disarmament, nuclear reactors and space exploration and once drove cross-country with Richard Feynman.

  • Paige Ellen Stone
    2019-04-29 02:33

    This is the second of the three books that Bruce Sterling says in his introduction to "Schizmatrix Plus" had a major influence on his writing of those short stories and the novel that followed. While it can be slow at times, Dyson's honesty and sense of wonder and awe at what he sees make up for that. I found it sad that this was written in '79, before the end of the "Genome Project". I would be fascinated as to what he would have to say in response to that incredible accomplishment and his own thinking about what biology has to offer those who would explore and colonize space.His ideas are, in some places, still fresh and exciting, and quite advanced and risky for the time in which he was writing. I plan to read his collection of essays, "The Scientist as Rebel," as soon as I can, since it is so much more recent.I must add that he is so open that he disavows ever having come up with the idea now know in sci-fi and other circles as the "Dyson Sphere." He admits it came from a sci fi novel he was reading in 1945 and even gives the author's name, which evades me now.He is refreshingly honest and has the poet's soul as do many other speculative physicists. Without question it is the last third of the book that holds the reader's attention most strongly (at least this reader). He speaks of what he sees coming, of what his children mean to him, his own dreams, his belief in the place of theology and his hope for quantum physics in the world to come. It is not the easiest read but it worthwhile.I've just realized that I've written this review assuming that the reader knows who Freeman Dyson is. Well.... if you don't..... just type his name into google and get familiar with one of the most extraordinary humans of our lifetime.

  • Angus Mcfarlane
    2019-05-26 21:29

    This was a great read. Dyson tells the story of his life as a physicist working at 'high levels' on quantum, nuclear and astronomy issues. However, he tells more of the social story, using literary illustrations, rather than the scientific detail (which is probably accessible elsewhere). Some of the chapters are perhaps more whimsical than practical, including a favorite topic of mine (exobiology and the search for other life). Many, however, are dealing with the very real interaction between science/technology and politics, public perception and the ethical challenges posed. It is valuable to hear these things discussed thoughtfully by someone who understands the science and the humanity of the scientists doing it.

  • Martha Grace
    2019-05-20 00:19

    This is really a series of essays. It is dated--it was written in 1979, but fearlessly addresses many big questions.Growing ups in England, the opening essays are about England in WWII and stories of being involved in the bombing of Germany while living through the bombing of England. He speaks of peace an disarmament. He moves to America to study physics and worked with many of the great minds that developed the bomb after the bomb had been dropped. He looks at the future, not just in the short range but a deeper look at the future of the human race as a diverging species, perhaps bound for the stars. He is a man of science, but widely read, quoting othe authors and poets.

  • Peter Mcloughlin
    2019-05-18 01:28

    Freeman Dyson is a major scientist of the 20th century and founder of Quantum Electrodynamics along with Richard Feynman, Julian Schwinger. He also has the blue sky imagination to rival any science fiction writer. He is the inventor of the idea of the Dyson sphere a sphere to be built by an advanced civilization around a star to utilize all the power output of a sun. He thought big and besides worrying about nuclear apocalypse like many in the physics community also dreamed of Greening the Galaxy. Dyson is one of those innovative thinkers at the zenith of the space program who popularized dreams of populating the sky. Definitely some one people should be more acquanted with.

  • Valerie
    2019-05-04 21:37

    Dyson spends too much time justifying in retrospect behavior that (let's face it) can't be justified. If he'd stood up for his beliefs, he might not have to spend so much time on it now.I'd seen him on A Glorious Accident, and he was one of the people I knew about before the series. He speaks better than he writes, in my opinion. But the book was worth reading, if only for the physics. If you're not interested in the physics, you've probably wandered in by chance. I can't say if you'd like the book--but other people seem to.

  • Alan Clark
    2019-04-26 23:21

    Much of the book is autobiographical and I would give those parts five stars without hesitation. Other parts are scientific speculation, which were also very interesting but not entirely convincing. The least enjoyable parts for me were the philosophising, which does not appeal to me so I did not enjoy those sections anything like as much and rather skipped over them.

  • Phillip
    2019-05-13 22:15

    T.S. Eiliot wrote, Do I Dare? time to turn back and descend the stair, with a bald spot in the middle of my hair, Do I Dare Disturb the universe?Mr. Dyson has some wonderful insights in this part biography and part collection of essays. I'm thankful Mr. Dyson shared his thoughts and, in the words of Eliot, dared to disturb the universe.

  • Earl
    2019-04-26 01:30

    Possibly the best popular science book available, despite being decades old. Dyson is an excellent writer with a keen understanding of his subject, though he does stray into passages in the philosophy of science that might be fallacious if read too literally.

  • J. Sparks
    2019-04-28 01:24

    A moving book by a theoretical physicist and mathematician reflecting on many things, most interestingly to me the morality of science. For example: his trying to explain to his young son how he worked for the British Bomber Command that was bombing the--at that time--home of his now German wife.

  • Zoe Crosher
    2019-05-16 23:14

    We'll see - in the middle of WWII. But I'm in love with his intro and his photo on the back cover of the book.

  • Robtee
    2019-05-01 19:19

    the universe is expecting us to probe it! Kewl!

  • Ben
    2019-05-25 02:38

    First half is more autobiographical, the second half more essays. The history in the autobiographies is interesting, the essays are varied but not particularly compelling.

  • Barb
    2019-05-05 03:41


  • Paula
    2019-05-14 21:18

    It would be very disastrous a disturbance in the universe that planets collide with each other or something very strange happened

  • Graeme Roberts
    2019-05-08 21:27

    Every intelligent person should read this great book. Heavy going in a few parts, but infinitely worth it!

  • David
    2019-05-11 20:39

    Freeman Dyson, a well known physicist, has written several books of speculative, quirky essays, and this is one of them. Easy to read and filled with interesting ideas.

  • Greg Fox
    2019-04-29 02:29

    Dyson hooks me from the first page, and I'd never been interested in Physics before. He's got some mind-blowing ideas.