Granger Whitelaw: Freeman Dyson, Guest Speaker

Granger whitelaw freeman dyson

SO…. How cool is this? My son, Granger Whitelaw, Jr is at boarding school and they have a speaker series…and the first guest speaker this year is Freeman Dyson !! I mean, seriously? Like, how cool is that! Freeman Dyson….Physicist, Astronomer, Quantum Physics expert and a true gentleman! I would have died to meet him when I was 15, even now! His daughter I know fairly well, Esther Dyson from the X Prize and technology in general….. but Freeman….well I must say I am quite pleased with the start this school is giving its kids, our kids…… Can I go back and be a kid again and hang out with cool cats? ( When I was at boarding school, I think the coolest speaker we had was…. wait…. we didn’t have any speakers!! )

Granger Whitelaw.

If you’re not familiar with Freeman Dyson’s career, here’s a snippet from his Wikipedia profile.

Although Dyson has won numerous scientific awards, he has never won a Nobel Prize, which has led Nobel physics laureate Steven Weinberg to state that the Nobel committee has “fleeced” Dyson. Dyson has said that “I think it’s almost true without exception if you want to win a Nobel Prize, you should have a long attention span, get hold of some deep and important problem and stay with it for 10 years. That wasn’t my style.”[4]

Dyson was a Scholar at the renowned Winchester College from 1936 to 1941. He was received (as one of 20 distinguished Old Wykehamists) on 4 May 2011 at the Ad Portas celebration, the highest honour that the College bestows. After leaving Winchester he joined the operational research section at RAF Bomber Command, where he remained for the rest of World War II.[7] After the war, he obtained a BA in mathematics from the University of Cambridge (1945) and was a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge from 1946 to 1949. In 1947 he moved to the US, on a fellowship at Cornell University and thence joined the faculty there as a physics professor in 1951 without a PhD. In 1953, he took up a post at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ. In 1957, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Dyson is best known[8] for demonstrating in 1949 the equivalence of the formulations of quantum electrodynamics that existed by that time – Richard Feynman’s diagrams, on the one hand, and, on the other, the operator method developed by Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga. Dyson was the first person (besides Feynman) to appreciate the power of Feynman diagrams, and his 1949 paper (written in 1948) was the first paper using them. He said in that paper that Feynman diagrams were not just a computational tool, but a physical theory. He developed rules for the diagrams that completely solved the renormalization problem. Dyson’s paper and also his lectures presented Feynman’s theories of QED (quantum electrodynamics) in a form that other physicists could understand and undoubtedly facilitated the physics community’s acceptance of Feynman’s work. Robert Oppenheimer, in particular, was persuaded by Dyson that Feynman’s new theory was as valid as Schwinger’s and Tomonaga’s. Oppenheimer rewarded Dyson with a lifetime appointment at the Institute for Advanced Study, “for proving me wrong,” Oppenheimer said.[9]

The same year, in related work, Dyson invented the Dyson series.[10] It was this Dyson paper that inspired John Ward to derive his celebrated Ward identity.[11]

Dyson also did work in a variety of topics in mathematics, such as topology, analysis, number theory and random matrices.[12] There is an interesting story involving random matrices. In 1973 the number theorist Hugh Montgomery was visiting the Institute for Advanced Study and had just made his pair correlation conjecture concerning the distribution of the zeros of the Riemann zeta function. He showed his formula to the mathematician Atle Selberg who said it looked like something in mathematical physics and he should show it to Dyson, which he did. Dyson recognized the formula as the pair correlation function of the Gaussian unitary ensemble, which has been extensively studied by physicists. This suggested that there might be an unexpected connection between the distribution of primes 2,3,5,7,11,… and the energy levels in the nuclei of heavy elements such as uranium.[13]

From 1957 to 1961 he worked on the Orion Project, which proposed the possibility of space-flight using nuclear pulse propulsion. A prototype was demonstrated using conventional explosives, but a treaty, which he was involved in and supported, banned the testing of nuclear weapons other than underground, and this caused the project to be abandoned.

In 1958 he led the design team for the TRIGA, a small, inherently safe nuclear reactor used throughout the world in hospitals and universities for the production of isotopes.

A seminal work by Dyson came in 1966 when, together with Andrew Lenard and independently of Elliott H. Lieb and Walter Thirring, he proved rigorously that the exclusion principle plays the main role in the stability of bulk matter.[14][15][16] Hence, it is not the electromagnetic repulsion between electrons and nuclei that is responsible for two wood blocks that are left on top of each other not coalescing into a single piece, but rather it is the exclusion principle applied to electrons and protons that generates the classical macroscopic normal force. In condensed matter physics, Dyson also did studies in the phase transition of the Ising model in 1 dimension and spin waves.[12]

Around 1979, Dyson worked with the Institute for Energy Analysis on climate studies. This group, under the direction of Alvin Weinberg, pioneered multidisciplinary climate studies, including a strong biology group. He is not an unqualified believer in the predictions being made by the believers in global warming (see below).[17] Also during the 1970s, Dyson worked on climate studies conducted by the JASON defense advisory group.[4]

He retired from the Institute for Advanced Study in 1994.[18] In 1998, Dyson joined the board of the Solar Electric Light Fund. As of 2003, Dyson is the president of the Space Studies Institute, the space research organization founded by Gerard K. O’Neill. Dyson is a long-time member of the JASON defense advisory group.

Dyson is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books.

 

 

 

15 thoughts on “”

  1. I know Freeman Dyson is a great man and I think he is so cool by just doing what he loves to do and not getting big things because he is not interested and not much of his attitude. To have that kind of speaker on a school is really a great pleasure and a great honor. Kids will surely be inspired and will grow in a more intelligent way.

  2. Good School and Great Speaker, I guess your child is on the advance learning way. Children must always be trained in a very special and more precised way in order for them to be prepared for the future.

  3. “How cool is this?”, that is really really cool. I am seeing now the future of the kids and I would say it would be so bright. I hope they can be the future of the country and I hope they keep on studying so that in the future they will be ready on all circumstances.

  4. Freeman Dyson is a great man and you can take a look at this from wiki “Freeman John Dyson FRS (born December 15, 1923) is a British-born[3] American[4] theoretical physicist and mathematician, famous for his work in quantum electrodynamics, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering. Dyson is a member of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.[5] Dyson has lived in Princeton, New Jersey, for over fifty years.[6]”, yes he is a great man and really a brilliant and an intelligent man.

  5. Dyson is a great and a brilliant man “Dyson was a Scholar at the renowned Winchester College from 1936 to 1941. He was received (as one of 20 distinguished Old Wykehamists) on 4 May 2011 at the Ad Portas celebration, the highest honour that the College bestows.”, he is really a genius and he is brilliant. Maybe some of you are already familiar with him, though I haven’t been to a school where he teaches but I know the students or his students is very luck to be taught by him.

  6. I’m a physics related student and I’m not so familiar with electrodynamics “Dyson is best known[8] for demonstrating in 1949 the equivalence of the formulations of quantum electrodynamics that existed by that time”, but I think I’m going to search it on how it works and it looks interesting. I may not familiar with the quantum electrodynamics but I have heard about good things about Mr. Dyson.

  7. I really find this very cool “SO…. How cool is this? My son, Granger Whitelaw, Jr is at boarding school and they have a speaker series”,Freeman Dyson is a legend and many knows his name and he cannot be really be forgotten in the world of science because of his works and also his attitude towards science. I believe he is one of the smartest and genius men in science in our all time of discovering things and upgrading things.

  8. I like this article and I find this one impressive because this is educational and informative. I always like reading physics books but in my place and in my books I have not seen his name seriously and I don’t know what is happening exactly but I think it’s just that his work is so advance that I have not reached in my physics lesson. I can see here his good works and I think it is impressive.

  9. I love your article, I’am an engineering student, and I’ve already heard a lot about Freeman Dyson. Freeman Dyson is now retired, having been for most of his life a professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. How I wish to study there.He was born in England and worked as a civilian scientist for the Royal Air Force in World War 2.

  10. I clicked the wikipedia profile and found this one “Freeman John Dyson FRS (born December 15, 1923) is a British-born[3] American[4] theoretical physicist and mathematician, famous for his work in quantum electrodynamics, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering.”, I am an engineering student and I am always amazed to the people who studies nuclear engineering and nuclear power plants because for me I think it’s hard to deal with those things.

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    company, famous in their catalog sales, online now, so you do
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  12. I read a lot of interesting posts here. Probably you
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