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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Freeman Dyson and mathematics

Freeman Dyson (1923-now) is an English physicist best known for his work in quantum electrodynamics. Physicist Ted Taylor said,


"Freeman's gift? ... It's cosmic. He is able to see more interconnections between more things than almost anybody. He sees the interrelationships, whether it's in some microscopic physical process or in a big complicated machine like Orion. He has been, from the time he was in his teens capable of understanding essentially anything that' he's interested in." (Quoted in The Danger of Cosmic Genius by Kenneth Brower)


The rest of this post is some quotes from Dyson.




"The bottom line for mathematicians is that the architecture has to be right. In all the mathematics that I did, the essential point was to find the right architecture... The problem is the overall design." (Interview with Donald Albers, 1994)


"Euclid... gave his famous definition of a point: 'a point is that which has no parts, or which has not magnitude' ... a point has no existence by itself. It exists only a s apart of the pattern of relationships which constitute the geometry of Euclid." (Infinite in All Directions, 1988)


"Heisenberg discovered the true limits of causality in atomic processes, and Gödel discovered the limits of formal deduction and proof in mathematics." (The Scientist as Rebel, 2006)


"I am acutely aware of the fact that the marriage between mathematics and physics, which was so enormously fruitful in past centuries, has recently ended in divorce." (Missed Opportunities, 1972)


Fundamental equations


"If it should turn out that the whole of physical reality can be described by a finite set of equations, I would be disappointed, I would feel that the creator had been uncharacteristically lacking in imagination." (Infinite in All Directions, 1988)


"Oppenheimer in his later years believed that the only problem worthy of attention of a serious theoretical physicist was the discovery of the fundamental equations of physics. Einstein certainly felt the same way." (The Scientist as Rebel, 2006)




"To talk about the end of science is just as foolish as to talk about the end of religion." (Progress in Religion, 2000)


"I do not make clear any distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension. God may be either a world-soul or a collection of world-souls. " (Progress in Religion, 2000)