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Attempts to make quantum electrodynamics into a completely solvable theory


Gerry Brown
Freeman Dyson Scientist
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I got to be very good friends with Gerry Brown, and he was an interesting character. Of course he was at that time more or less a stateless person. He was an American without a passport.

[Q] And also a member of the Communist Party at that stage.

Is that so? I don't remember. I know he was certainly...

[Q] That's the reason that he had left the United States, and he was... he became very close to the Peierls but then they were rather shocked that he had this kind of political affiliation, and it took a while, particularly in the light of what had happened with Klaus Fuchs...

Yes, I didn't know about that. I mean, as far as I saw it they were always very friendly to him, they certainly were, I mean outwardly at least, they were very friendly. And Gerry Brown was certainly in difficulties at that time and he valued their hospitality very highly.

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: USA, Gerald Brown, Klaus Fuchs, Rudolf Peierls

Duration: 59 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1998

Date story went live: 24 January 2008