Publisher description for The scientist as rebel / by Freeman J. Dyson.


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An illuminating collection of essays by an award-winning scientist whom the London Times calls “one of the world’s most original minds.”

In the view of the prize-winning physicist Freeman J. Dyson, science, wherever it practiced, is characterized by its rebellion against the restrictions of local cultures. Like art and poetry, it resists authority. The scientist is thus by nature a rebel, loyal not to social demands but only to reason and the imagination.

Dyson believes that the best way to understand science is by understanding those who practice it. In these essays, he recounts fascinating episodes from the history of science, interspersed with reminiscences from his own life and career. His topics fall into four groups. The first takes up contemporary issues in science, from cosmology to nanotechnology to global warming. The second group deals with questions of war and peace, particularly questions of nuclear weapons and disarmament. The third group is concerned with the history of science, especially physics, with essays ranging from Isaac Newton, to Sir Ernst Rutherford and the discovery of the structure of the atom, to Einstein and Raymond Poincar, to Norbert Wiener, Richard Feynmann, and string theory. The final section contains more personal and philosophical essays, dealing with such questions as the differences between science and religion, and the relation between science and the paranormal–surprisingly, Dyson argues that paranormal phenomena may actually exist yet be inaccessible to scientific verification.

This collection, by a renowned scientist who is also a lively and distinguished writer, offers fresh and often unexpected perspectives on the history, methods, and ethics of science, as well as informative and accessible ways of thinking about contentious current debates on the relations between science, religion, literature, and society.


Library of Congress subject headings for this publication:
Science.
Physics.
Science -- History.
Science -- Moral and ethical aspects.
Dyson, Freeman J. -- Biography.
Scientists -- United States -- Biography.