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Courses and people at Cornell


Community at the Rockefeller building
Freeman Dyson Scientist
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[Q] The Newman lab was already built?

No. This was Rockefeller.

[Q] So you went to Rockefeller.

It was the good old wooden building and I always like the Rockefeller building. The beauty of it was, there were six graduate students who shared a big office, which for me was again a wonderful thing, because in Cambridge I had been very isolated. In Cambridge there was really no place where you could meet people, and so I had my room in college where I was all alone, and there were lots of interesting people in Cambridge whom I actually never met because I only discovered later they had been there. Dick Dulles was one of those. He was actually my contemporary but I never met him. I didn't know he existed. Well, in Cornell that wouldn't have happened. In Cornell we were all stuck, thrust together and so in the Rockefeller building we had this rather large and shabby office with iron radiators that clanked all day long. It was a very friendly place, and six of us sharing the office, and so we really became very close friends, and that was again something that meant a very great deal. So I got immediately thrown into the American style.

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, Cornell University

Duration: 1 minute, 27 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1998

Date story went live: 24 January 2008