Synopses & Reviews
Scientist. Innovator. Rebel.
For decades, Freeman Dyson has been regarded as one of the worlds most important thinkers. The Atlantic wrote, “In the range of his genius, Freeman Dyson is heir to Einstein - a visionary who has reshaped thinking in fields from math to astrophysics to medicine, and who has conceived nuclear-propelled spaceships designed to transport human colonists to distance planets.” Salon.com says that, “what sets Dyson apart among an elite group of scientists is the conscience and compassion he brings to his work.” Now, in this first complete biography of Dyson, author Phillip F. Schewe examines the life of a man whose accomplishments have shaped our world in many ways.
From quantum physics to national defense, from space to biotechnology, Dysons work has cemented his position as a man whose influence goes far beyond the field of theoretical physics. It even won him the million dollar Templeton prize for his writing about science and religion. Recently, Dyson has made headlines for his controversial views on global warming, and he continues to make waves in the science community to this day.
A colleague of Albert Einstein at Princeton and friends with leading thinkers including Robert Oppenheimer, George F. Kennan, and Richard Feynman, Freeman Dyson is a larger-than-life figure. Many of his colleagues, including Nobelists Steven Weinberg and Frank Wilczek, as well as his wives and his children, Esther and George Dyson, have been interviewed for this book. Maverick Genius, Schewes definitive biography, paints a compelling and vibrant portrait of a man who has been both praised for his genius and criticized for his unorthodox views.
"Freeman Dyson is a Renaissance man he's worked in mathematics, physics, and theology, and in the long course of his career, his advice has been sought on issues ranging from global warming to national defense. This book follows his trajectory through the post-WWII nuclear age, the turbulent 1960s, and the cold war, and up to the present day, but while Schewe (The Grid) has certainly done his research (and made his physics acumen clear), Dyson the man is often dwarfed by his deeds. One reason could be Dyson's polite refusal to be interviewed for the book he figured it was too early 'to tell whether I did anything important.' Schewe did, however, have the cooperation of his family. Thus, like the Dyson sphere, a hypothetical system of satellites arranged around a star for the purpose of collecting energy from its center, the portrait that comes to light is a circumambulatory one, comprising some personal details; sketches of his relationships with friends, family, and colleagues; enumerations of his many awards; meticulous explanations of the complicated science behind his groundbreaking projects; and elucidations of his fascinating ideas. Schewe can't be blamed for the scope of his subject after all, Dyson's odyssey is indeed far-ranging. But without the pioneer himself, the landscape mind-boggling, inspirational, and compelling as it is remains intimidatingly wild. 16 pages of b&w photos. Agent: John Thornton, the Spieler Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“Dyson is heir to Einstein—a visionary who has reshaped thinking in fields from math to astrophysics to medicine.”—The Atlantic
Freeman Dyson has been influential in many fields over his long and legendary career, including quantum physics, national defense, space, and religion. In this definitive biography, author Phillip F. Schewe examines the life of one of the most innovative thinkers of our time, whose accomplishments include:
- Designing a nuclear rocket ship, The Orion, for NASA
- Helping write the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
- Consulting Stanley Kubrick on the film 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Winning the coveted million dollar Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion
A colleague of Albert Einstein at Princeton and friends with leading thinkers including Robert Oppenheimer, George F. Kennan, and Richard Feynman, Freeman Dyson is a larger-than-life figure in the world of science, and he has recently made headlines for his controversial views on global warming. Written with the cooperation of Dyson's children, entrepreneur Esther Dyson (an early investor in Flickr, Google, and Orbitz, who has often been called "The First Lady of the Internet") and tech writer George Dyson, this is the first complete biography of the man who changed the way we think about science today.
About the Author
PHILLIP F. SCHEWE works at the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland, where he is director of communication. He has a PhD in physics but has spent most of his career as a writer, chiefly as an explainer and popularizer of science. In addition, he has written numerous plays, which have been performed in New York, Washington, DC, and elsewhere. His previous book, The Grid, a history of the impact of electricity on society, was called by NPR one of the top science books of the year for 2007. He lives in Takoma Park, Maryland.