Freeman Dyson is Professor of Physics Emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. His most recent book is Dreams of Earth and Sky, a collection of his writing in these pages.
 (May 2016)


The Heritage of a Great Man

Fang Lizhi in his office at the University of Arizona, Tucson, August 1996

The Most Wanted Man in China: My Journey from Scientist to Enemy of the State

by Fang Lizhi, translated from the Chinese by Perry Link
Why did communism grow deep roots and survive in China, while it withered and died in Russia? This is one of the central questions of modern history. A plausible answer to the question is that communism in China resonated with the two-thousand-year-old Confucian tradition of the wise ruler governing a …

Max Planck: The Tragic Choices

Max Planck, center, with Walther Nernst, Albert Einstein, Robert Andrews Millikan, and Max Laue, all physicists and winners of the Nobel Prize, Berlin, 1928

Planck: Driven by Vision, Broken by War

by Brandon R. Brown
In the summer of 1946, as soon as possible after the end of World War II, the Royal Society of London organized a celebration for the three hundredth birthday of Isaac Newton. Newton was born on Christmas Day 1642, laid the foundations of modern physics with his masterpiece, Mathematical Principles …

Einstein as a Jew and a Philosopher

Albert Einstein, Vienna, 1921

Einstein: His Space and Times

by Steven Gimbel
Why would anybody want to write another book about Albert Einstein? Why would anybody want to read it? These are two separate questions, but both of them have satisfactory answers. In spite of the large number of books already written about Einstein, there is still room for one more.

Scientist, Spy, Genius: Who Was Bruno Pontecorvo?

Bruno Pontecorvo around the time of his defection to the USSR

Half-Life: The Divided Life of Bruno Pontecorvo, Physicist or Spy

by Frank Close
Why does the American public still consider all spies to be demons? Why does the public make no distinction between technical spies like Julius Rosenberg stealing useful knowledge and tactical spies like Kim Philby destroying human lives? Perhaps it is because the American public is misled by the American secrecy system.



Star-forming nebula in the constellation Carina, 7,200 light-years from earth, 2006-2008

When we see things for the first time, the pictures are always a surprise. Nature’s imagination is richer than ours. We imagine things to be simple and Nature makes them complicated. In Expanding Universe, a magnificent selection of pictures taken by cameras on the Hubble Space Telescope, the big surprise is dust.