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Family, friends and work

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My friendship with Oliver Sacks
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[Q] After you read books which strike you as interesting, insightful, do you take pen to hand and write to the author and establish bonds that way?

Yes, once in a while I do, and that works equally well. I mean one of the examples of course is Oliver Sacks who has become quite a close friend because I read his books, and it happens also we're both of us friends of Carleton Gajdusek who recently got out of jail, so we went down together to greet him when he came out of jail. Oliver Sacks is, as I am, just a great maker of friends. He... he is a person I just, I love him dearly, although in a way I'm not a very close friend because we've mostly just corresponded, only met about twice, but... but he's a wonderful guy. And of course he's even more many-sided than I am and he's written books on many different subjects; he's a... a medical doctor and an author and has enormously wide interests. And... and also we happen, both of us, to be friends with the Parks who have an autistic daughter with whom he got very involved with. He's actually made a television documentary, which is excellent, of Jessy Park, the autistic daughter. It is a wonderful documentary because it really shows her as she really is, and that was done by Oliver Sacks. And I've been of course involved with the Park family for 40 years, so it's a network of friends.

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: The Mind Traveler, Daniel Carleton Gajdusek, Oliver Sacks, Jessy Park

Duration: 1 minute, 48 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1998

Date story went live: 24 January 2008