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GH Hardy and JE Littlewood's lectures


Relationship with Besicovitch
Freeman Dyson Scientist
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He was very, very fond of me, I think it's true to say. He loved to play billiards. He had a billiard table in his room, and I wasn't particularly fond of playing billiards but he would always insist that I come and play and so we would play endless games of billiards, and I think that was just a way of getting me to be in his room. I mean it was - he wanted to, he just loved to have me around and I was certainly very happy because he talked so beautifully about Russia. He was a tremendous patriot. Although he had left Russia somewhere about ten years after the Revolution, he stayed in Leningrad after the Revolution as professor and had been thoroughly in sympathy with the Revolution and wanted the Revolution to work, but then found it was impossible because they imposed all kinds of political conditions on his work. So after ten years he quarreled with the local Communist Party and had to leave the country. But he was always a loyal Russian and even a loyal Soviet supporter. I mean during the war especially he was violently supporting the Soviet government, and he was terribly unhappy because the Western countries weren't doing enough, and the Russians were doing all the fighting in those years.

Freeman Dyson (1923-2020), who was born in England, 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 published several books and, among other honours, was 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: Russia, Russian Revolution, Communist Party, WWII, Abram Besicovitch

Duration: 1 minute, 43 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1998

Date story went live: 24 January 2008