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Becoming friends with Freeman Dyson

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I heard later a story… actually, I'm pretty sure it's true. When he was at Cornell, Dyson had an officemate. I think his name was something like Huff or something. And this guy, who was at Brookhaven, told me this story. He said, 'Dyson would come into the office about eleven in the morning, he'd read the New York Times. He'd go to lunch, he'd scribble for about a half an hour and then take a nap and then leave'. And so this guy said, 'You know, he's a pleasant guy but I mean he's obviously... not going to get anywhere with what he's doing'. And keeping this up after a few months, these set of papers on quantum electrodynamics came out. This guy said....this guy left theoretical physics. There was no point.

Born in 1929, Jeremy Bernstein is an American physicist, educator and writer known for the clarity of his writing for the lay reader on the major issues of modern physics. After graduating from Harvard University, Bernstein worked at Harvard and at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton. In 1962 he became an Associate Professor of Physics at New York University, and later a Professor of Physics at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, a position he continues to hold. He was also on the staff of The New Yorker magazine.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Cornell University, New York Times

Duration: 1 minute, 9 seconds

Date story recorded: 15th June 2011

Date story went live: 28 October 2011