Pushing the Boundaries: A Conversation with Freeman Dyson

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Open Agenda Publishing, Oct 1, 2020 - Science

This book is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and former mathematical physicist and writer Freeman Dyson, who was one of the most celebrated polymaths of our age. Freeman Dyson had his academic home for more than 60 years at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He has reshaped thinking in fields from math to astrophysics to medicine, while pondering nuclear-propelled spaceships designed to transport human colonists to distant planets. 

During this extensive conversation Freeman looks back on his simultaneously transformative careers in theoretical physics, mathematics, biology, rocket ship design, nuclear disarmament and writing.

This carefully-edited book includes an introduction, Pure and Applied, and questions for discussion at the end of each chapter:

I. Debating Exceptionalism - Personal and professional

II. In Praise of Rebels - Moving science forwards

III. Against Reductionism - Valuing the specific

IV. Foundational Issues - From the anthropic principle to free will

V. Current Mysteries - From dark energy to quasicrystals

VI. The Origin of Life - RNA as a parasite

VII. Space Travel - Manned vs. unmanned

VIII. Science and Society - Climate change and more

IX. Religion - Another path

X. Final Thoughts - Neuroscience and Chinese string theorists

About Ideas Roadshow Conversations Series: 

This book is part of an expanding series of 100+ Ideas Roadshow conversations, each one presenting a wealth of candid insights from a leading expert in a relaxed and informal setting to give non-specialists a uniquely accessible window into frontline research and scholarship that wouldn't otherwise be encountered through standard lectures and textbooks. For other books in this series visit our website (https://ideas-on-film.com/ideasroadshow/).


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A Note on the Text
The Conversation
Debating Exceptionalism
In Praise of Rebels
Against Reductionism
Foundational Issues
Current Mysteries
The Origin of Life
Space Travel
Science and Society
Final Thoughts

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About the author (2020)

Howard Burton, the founder and creator of Ideas Roadshow and Ideas on Film, holds a PhD in theoretical physics and an MA in philosophy. He was the Founding Executive Director of Canada’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI) from 1999-2007. During his time at PI, he also developed an extensive outreach programme for teachers, students and the general public. His experiences at developing the research and outreach mandates of the institute were described in the book, First Principles: Building Perimeter Institute, featuring a foreword by Nobel Laureate Roger Penrose.

Ideas Roadshow is an award-winning initiative, recipient of the London Book Fair International Excellence Award in 2018. Howard has hosted and filmed in-depth conversations with more than 100 of the world’s brightest thinkers, including 3 Nobel Laureates, across the arts, sciences, sports and games.

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