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My additions to the Winchester College Museum


Exams and friends at Winchester College
Freeman Dyson Scientist
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I'm always good at exams, and I'm happy some of my kids inherited that. It's a great... it's a very useful skill just to be able to sail through exams. My youngest daughter just took her medical boards, and others... all the other young doctors were struggling and apprehensive and she just was not taking it particularly hard and sailing through. So it's something we seem to be born with. So I've been adaptable in that way. And then at Winchester the teachers were wise enough to leave the kids very much alone. We had rather few hours in class and we learned more from each other than we did from the teachers, especially in math and science.

[Q] And you had some fairly able people who made likewise illustrious careers.

Yes, there was a gang of four, which... which I was particularly lucky to be one of, and there was myself and, now, Sir James Lighthill who is a very distinguished aerodynamicist; and there's Christopher and Michael Longuet-Higgins who were brothers. Christopher became a theoretical chemist and Michael Longuet-Higgins is an oceanographer, and all four of us became Fellows of the Royal Society and had distinguished careers. So that was a tremendous piece of luck. We're all very different. No two of us have been doing similar things, but we did have the enormous stimulus of growing up together.

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: Winchester College, Royal Society, James Lighthill, Michael Longuet-Higgins, Christopher Longuet-Higgins

Duration: 1 minute, 35 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1998

Date story went live: 24 January 2008