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Summer school at Les Houches
Freeman Dyson Scientist
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That summer I was teaching at Les Houches in France, and that I also remember as a particularly happy summer, the summer school which Cécile had founded This is Cécile DeWitt[-Morette] - the same Cécile who had been at the Institute a few years before. And in the meantime she had - I mean she was a real ball of fire and so she had, all by herself she had started this summer school in Les Houches which turned out to be a teaching ground for the whole of Europe and which was an enormous success. So I went - I was there for six weeks of that summer, and I was enjoying that enormously. And I had the most marvellous bunch of students in Les Houches. That's the kind of - I mean it's sort of the antithesis of the PhD. These students came from all over Europe. They were just passionately involved for six weeks in the summer school. There was no problem of exams, no problem of grades or passing degrees or anything. They came just to learn. That was my ideal for a teaching job and, and I think it was just the genius of Cécile to have created it. Anyway, so we had a wonderful summer there. It rained for six weeks without stopping, and one of my students was Georges Charpak, who got a Nobel prize not long ago. They were just a marvellous bunch of students. Almost all of them became famous ultimately.

Born in England in 1923, Freeman Dyson moved to Cornell University after graduating from Cambridge University with a BA in Mathematics. He subsequently became a professor and worked on nuclear reactors, solid state physics, ferromagnetism, astrophysics and biology. He has published several books and, among other honours, has been awarded the Heineman Prize and the Royal Society's Hughes Medal.

Listeners: Sam Schweber

Silvan Sam Schweber is the Koret Professor of the History of Ideas and Professor of Physics at Brandeis University, and a Faculty Associate in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University. He is the author of a history of the development of quantum electro mechanics, "QED and the men who made it", and has recently completed a biography of Hans Bethe and the history of nuclear weapons development, "In the Shadow of the Bomb: Oppenheimer, Bethe, and the Moral Responsibility of the Scientist" (Princeton University Press, 2000).

Tags: Les Houches, France, Institute of Advanced Study, Europe, Nobel Prize in Physics, Cécile DeWitt-Morette, Georges Charpak

Duration: 1 minute, 34 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1998

Date story went live: 24 January 2008