In Memoriam: Freeman Dyson

March 3, 2020 - March 13, 2020

Dec. 15, 1923,  died February 28, 2020
Born Crowthorne, Berkshire, England

For the better part of a century, mathematician and physicist Freeman Dyson contributed impressive proofs and provocative theories to the scientific world. His theory of quantum electrodynamics (QED) was conceived while still a graduate student at Cornell University in 1949. It described how light and matter interact and resolved several competing ideas on the subject. Although he never finished his PhD and only taught students for a few years, Dyson spent most of his career as a distinguished professor at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. Up until his death at age 96, his often iconoclastic thoughts on how the universe functioned and the environmental impact of modern life on the earth, continued to resonate widely.

Man in a suit sitting at a desk
Freeman Dyson (1923 - 2020) by Francis Bello / c. 1954, Gelatin silver print / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Steve Bello © Francis Bello Estate