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Father's move to London


Family warmth
Freeman Dyson Scientist
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[Q] When you came to your house, it was business as usual. Nobody asked you about, 'Had you...'

That's true, yes. I was... of course it was a point of honour to me also, I mean that I wouldn't make a big deal out of this, so I just arrived there and of course they all imagined I'd come on the train and - so, I didn't talk about it until a few days later. But in any case, I mean my family was also quite supportive, but we didn't have this sort of the ritualised family life which I found so attractive. And I believe one reason why I've married a German wife - because these Jews were really Germans, although I thought it was sort of specifically Jewish, but a lot of this warmth was actually more German than Jewish in a way, because the German people who are not Jewish are just the same - and so I have this German wife who organises the family in the same sort of way.

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: Cambridge University, London

Duration: 1 minute, 4 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1998

Date story went live: 24 January 2008