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A young love for numbers


Winchester during the Depression
Freeman Dyson Scientist
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We actually were very well off during the Depression and the town of Winchester was very much protected from any sort of... cold winds from the outside. It's a very ancient town. It was the ancient capital of England, so the chief local industry was archaeology. We were constantly being dug, and people found wonderful prehistoric and historic remains. It was an old Roman town and...

[Q] With a beautiful cathedral.

Yes, it has this grand cathedral which is from the 11th and 12th centuries, and many of the buildings in the city are medieval, and the school itself has been there for 600 years and the buildings are still the old buildings. So we lived in these wonderful medieval buildings.

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: Great Depression, Winchester, UK, Winchester Cathedral

Duration: 52 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1998

Date story went live: 24 January 2008