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The walk from Cambridge to London
Freeman Dyson Scientist
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Oscar had the idea that when we had to go home - we both of us lived in London at that time - this was 1943, and when we finally left Cambridge for the last time and we had a certain amount of luggage, and he had his wheelchair, so he thought it would be a sensible thing just to take a walk in the wheelchair with our suitcases from Cambridge to London, which was 55 miles. And so we did that, and it was a glorious day, and of course we'd practised a lot, we used to out for early morning walks, we did 10 miles before breakfast several times to get in training. And on the big day we started at 3 o'clock in the morning and I put my suitcase on the wheelchair and in exchange I pushed him up the hills. And we made it; we arrived at our homes in London at 11 o'clock that night in a state of tremendous exultation and it was a wonderful day. And of course, it could never be done again because it was only possible because there was no traffic on the roads, so it was a record that's likely to stand.

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: London, 1943, Cambridge University, Oscar Hahn

Duration: 1 minute, 17 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1998

Date story went live: 24 January 2008