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Oppenheimer

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Returning to England
Freeman Dyson Scientist
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[Q] You now reach the end of the second Commonwealth year, and having been a Fellow you must go back to Great Britain?

Yes, and the sad thing was at that moment I got an offer of a job from Rabi which I would have given my right arm to accept. I mean, that was exactly what I wanted, to go to Columbia and be there among all these great experimenters, really see the experiments. It would have been just the most wonderful thing for me. But I had made my promise that I would go back to England, so I went back to England. I said, 'Sorry, I can't do this,' so Norman Cole got the job instead of me which was always a great sorrow. Anyway, so I went back to England and there I had an offer from Peierls in Birmingham to go for two years with a Royal Society Fellowship, and I spent two years in Birmingham.

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: Columbia, New York, UK, Birmingham, Royal Society Fellowship, Royal Society, Isidor Isaac Rabi, John Norman Cole, Rudolf Peierls

Duration: 1 minute, 4 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1998

Date story went live: 24 January 2008