The Scientist as Rebel

Freeman J. Dyson, Author . New York Review Books $27.95 (360p) ISBN 978-1-59017-216-2

In an eclectic but deeply satisfying collection, Dyson, a Nobel Prize–winning physicist and prolific author (Weapons and Hope ), presents 33 previously published book reviews, essays and speeches (15 from the New York Review of Books ). Dyson expresses his precise thinking in prose of crystal clarity, and readers will be absolutely enthralled by his breadth, his almost uncanny ability to tie diverse topics together and his many provocative statements. In the title essay, Dyson writes, "Science is an alliance of free spirits in all cultures rebelling against" the tyranny of their local cultures. In a 2006 review of Daniel Dennett's book, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon , Dyson, himself a man of faith, takes issue with Dennett's quoting of physicist Stephen Weinberg that "for good people to do bad things—that takes religion." The converse is also true, says Dyson: "for bad people to do good things—that takes religion." Three of the best chapters (reprinted from Weapons and Hope ) deal with the politics of the cold war. And his writings on Einstein, Teller, Newton, Oppenheimer, Norbert Wiener and Feynman will amuse while presenting deep insights into the nature of science and humanity. Virtually every chapter deserves to be savored. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 09/25/2006
Release date: 11/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 361 pages - 978-1-59017-294-0
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