Related News from STS

Freeman Dyson’s Letters Offer Another Glimpse of Genius

Freeman Dyson
Dyson’s typewritten letters give an impression of his quick mind at work; 
often stray letters appear above or below a given line, the typewriter’s 
strained mechanisms no match for the speed of Dyson’s thinking.
Photograph by Imke Lass / Redux

Here is a scientist who can really write,” the physicist Hans Bethe observed in his review of Freeman Dyson’s first book, “Disturbing the Universe,” in 1979. Dyson, who died on Friday, at the age of ninety-six, was a mathematician and theoretical physicist by training, but became best known to most Americans as a writer. The book, a poignant collection of essays, some of which appeared in The New Yorker, was a finalist for the National Book Award; he went on to publish ten more. For twenty-five years, he was a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, writing on a dazzling range of authors and topics—from Daniel Kahneman to Michael Crichton, the history of the Galápagos to the concept of infinity. His last piece, on “the outcast genius” and physicist Fritz Zwicky, appeared six weeks before his death.

READ MORE: Freeman Dyson’s Letters Offer Another Glimpse of Genius