Famous Quotes & Sayings

Freeman Dyson Quotes & Sayings

Enjoy the top 100 famous quotes, sayings and quotations by Freeman Dyson.

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Famous Quotes By Freeman Dyson

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When we look ahead to 2018, we should expect big steps forward in science to come once again from changes in style rather than from marginal improvements in technology. — Freeman Dyson

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Science was blamed for all the horrors of World War I, just as it's blamed today for nuclear weapons and quite rightly. I mean World War I was a horrible war and it was mostly the fault of science, so that was in a way a very bad time for science, but on the other hand we were winning all these Nobel Prizes. — Freeman Dyson

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It's as great a part of the human adventure to invent things as to understand them. John Randall wasn't a great scientist, but he was a great inventor. There's been lots more like him, and it's a shame they don't get Nobel Prizes. — Freeman Dyson

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Thanks to the discoveries of astronomers in the twentieth century, we now know that the heat death is a myth. The heat death can never happen, and there is no paradox. — Freeman Dyson

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For many scientists less divinely gifted than Einstein,the chief reward for being a scientist is not the power and the money but the chance of catching a glimpse of the transcendent beauty of nature. — Freeman Dyson

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We do not need to have an agreed set of goals before we do something ambitious! — Freeman Dyson

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After sketching his program for the scientific revolution that he foresaw, Bacon ends his account with a prayer: "Humbly we pray that this mind may be steadfast in us, and that through these our hands, and the hands of others to whom thou shalt give the same spirit, thou wilt vouchsafe to endow the human family with new mercies". That is still a good prayer for all of us as we begin the twenty-first century. — Freeman Dyson

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In the long run, the only solution I see to the problem of diversity is the expansion of mankind into the universe by means of green technology ... Green technology means we do not live in cans but adapt our plants and our animals and ourselves to live wild in the universe as we find it ... When life invades a new habitat, she never moves with a single species. She comes with a variety of species, and as soon as she is established, her species spread and diversify further. Our spread through the galaxy will follow her ancient pattern. — Freeman Dyson

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Lucky individuals in each generation find technology appropriate to their needs. — Freeman Dyson

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Technology is a gift of God. After the gift of life it is perhaps the greatest of God's gifts. It is the mother of civilizations, of arts and of sciences. — Freeman Dyson

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I am hoping that the scientists and politicians who have been blindly demonizing carbon dioxide for 37 years will one day open their eyes and look at the evidence. — Freeman Dyson

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Vegetation is really controlling what happens ... whereas the emphasis in the climate models has always been on the atmosphere. — Freeman Dyson

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my first recommendation to people in charge of science education is, more money for public libraries and museums. Public libraries and museums ought to be as common as schools. — Freeman Dyson

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I don't think of myself predicting things. I'm expressing possibilities. Things that could happen. To a large extent it's a question of how badly people want them to. — Freeman Dyson

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Plasma seems to have the kinds of properties one would like for life. It's somewhat like liquid water
unpredictable and thus able to behave in an enormously complex fashion. It could probably carry as much information as DNA does. It has at least the potential for organizing itself in interesting ways. — Freeman Dyson

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The widening gap between technology and human needs can only be filled by ethics. We have seen in the last thirty years many examples of the power of ethics. The worldwide environmental movement, basing its power on ethical persuasion, has scored many victories over industrial wealth and technological arrogance. The most spectacular victory of the environmentalists was the downfall of the nuclear industry in the United States and many other countries, first in the domain of nuclear power and more recently in the domain of weapons. It was the environmental movement that closed down factories for making nuclear weapons in the United States, from plutonium-producing Hanford to warhead-producing Rocky Flats. Ethics can be a force more powerful than politics and economics. — Freeman Dyson

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One factor that has remained constant through all the twists and turns of the history of physical science is the decisive importance of the mathematical imagination. — Freeman Dyson

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If the tools are bad, nature's voice is muffled. If the tools are good, nature will give us a clear answer to a clear question. — Freeman Dyson

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The important thing is that we now have the tools to sequence all kinds of animals and plants and microbes - as well as humans. It is not important that we didn't actually finish the human sequence yet. — Freeman Dyson

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Humanity looks to me like a magnificent beginning but not the final word. — Freeman Dyson

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The moral of Gandhi's life and death is that pacifism as a political program is much more difficult to sustain than pacifism as a personal ethic. Being himself a leader of extraordinary charisma and skill, Gandhi was able to organize a whole people around a program of pacifism. He proved that a pacifist resistance movement can be sustained for thirty years and can be strong enough to defeat an empire. The subsequent history of India proved that political pacifism was not strong enough to survive the death of its leader and to withstand the temptations of power. — Freeman Dyson

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As we look out into the Universe and identify the many accidents of physics and astronomy that have worked together to our benefit, it almost seems as if the Universe must in some sense have known that we were coming. — Freeman Dyson

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Samuel Gompers was the founder and first president of the American Federation of Labor. He established in America the tradition of practical bargaining between labor and management which led to an era of growth and prosperity for labor unions. Now, seventy years after Gomper's death, the unions have dwindled, while his dreams-more books and fewer guns, more leisure and less greed, more schoolhouses and fewer jails-have been tacitly abandoned. In a society without social justice and with a free-market ideology, guns, greed, and jails are bound to win. — Freeman Dyson

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A model is such a fascinating toy that you fall in love with your creation. — Freeman Dyson

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If you start out with a tragic view of life, then anything since is just a bonus. — Freeman Dyson

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Climate change is part of the normal order of things, and we know it was happening before humans came. — Freeman Dyson

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So long as you have courage and a sense of humor, it is never too late to start life afresh. — Freeman Dyson

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The marketplace judges technologies by their practical effectiveness, by whether they succeed or fail to do the job they are designed to do. — Freeman Dyson

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Science and religion are two windows that people look through, trying to understand the big universe outside, trying to understand why we are here. The two windows give different views, but both look out at the same universe. Both views are one-sided, neither is complete. Both leave out essential features of the real world. And both are worthy of respect. — Freeman Dyson

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It's not going to be just humans colonizing space, it's going to be life moving out from the Earth, moving it into its kingdom. And the kingdom of life, of course, is going to be the universe. — Freeman Dyson

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Unfortunately, things are different in climate science because the arguments have become heavily politicised. To say that the dogmas are wrong has become politically incorrect. — Freeman Dyson

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The pain of childbirth is not remembered. It's the child that's remembered. — Freeman Dyson

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The progress of science requires the growth of understanding in both directions, downward from the whole to the parts and upward from the parts to the whole. A reductionist philosophy, arbitrarily proclaiming that the growth of understanding must go only in one direction, makes no scientific sense. Indeed, dogmatic philosophical beliefs of any kind have no place in science. — Freeman Dyson

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When I was a boy in England long ago, people who traveled on
trains with dogs had to pay for a dog ticket. The question arose
whether I needed to buy a dog ticket when I was traveling with a
tortoise. The conductor on the train gave me the answer: Cats is
dogs and rabbits is dogs but tortoises is insects and travel free
according. — Freeman Dyson

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Do not imagine that you have to know everything before you can do anything. My own best work was done when I was most ignorant. — Freeman Dyson

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The nuclear arms race is over, but the ethical problems raised by nonmilitary technology remain. The ethical problems arise from three "new ages" flooding over human society like tsunamis. First is the Information Age, already arrived and here to stay, driven by computers and digital memory. Second is the Biotechnology Age, due to arrive in full force early in the next century, driven by DNA sequencing and genetic engineering. Third is the Neurotechnology Age, likely to arrive later in the next century, driven by neural sensors and exposing the inner workings of human emotion and personality to manipulation. — Freeman Dyson

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Some Western readers commonly use the Japanese word manga to mean serious comic-book literature. According to one of my Japanese friends, this usage is wrong. The word manga means "idle picture" and is used in Japan to describe collections of trivial comic-book stories. The correct word for serious comic-book literature is gekiga, meaning "dramatic picture. — Freeman Dyson

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The beauty in the genome is of course that it's so small. The human genome is only on the order of a gigabyte of data ... which is a tiny little database. If you take the entire living biosphere, that's the assemblage of 20 million species or so that constitute all the living creatures on the planet, and you have a genome for every species the total is still about one petabyte, that's a million gigabytes - that's still very small compared with Google or the Wikipedia and it's a database that you can easily put in a small room, easily transmit from one place to another. And somehow mother nature manages to create this incredible biosphere, to create this incredibly rich environment of animals and plants with this amazingly small amount of data. — Freeman Dyson

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The poorer half of humanity needs cheap housing, cheap health care, and cheap education, accessible to everybody, with high quality and high aesthetic standards. The fundamental problem for human society in the next century is the mismatch between the three new waves of technology and the three basic needs of poor people. The gap between technology and needs is wide and growing wider. If technology continues along its present course, ignoring the needs of the poor and showering benefits upon the rich, the poor will sooner or later rebel against the tyranny of technology and turn to irrational and violent remedies. In the future, as in the past, the revolt of the poor is likely to impoverish rich and poor together. — Freeman Dyson

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Mind and intelligence are woven into the fabric of our universe in a way that altogether surpasses our understanding. — Freeman Dyson

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Successful technologies often begin as hobbies. Jacques Cousteau invented scuba diving because he enjoyed exploring caves. The Wright brothers invented flying as a relief from the monotony of their normal business of selling and repairing bicycles. — Freeman Dyson

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The reason why new concepts in any branch of science are hard to grasp is always the same; contemporary scientists try to picture the new concept in terms of ideas which existed before. — Freeman Dyson

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The total disorder in the universe, as measured by the quantity that physicists call entropy, increases steadily over time. Also, the total order in the universe, as measured by the complexity and permanence of organized structures, also increases steadily over time. — Freeman Dyson

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The most revolutionary aspect of technology is its mobility. Anybody can learn it. It jumps easily over barriers of race and language ... The new technology of microchips and computer software is learned much faster than the old technology of coal and iron. It took three generations of misery for the older industrial countries to master the technology of coal and iron. The new industrial countries of East Asia, South Korea, and Singapore and Taiwan, mastered the new technology and made the jump from poverty to wealth in a single generation. — Freeman Dyson

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The third quality that is needed for a scientist to become a public icon is wisdom. Besides being a famous joker and a famous genius, Feynman was also a wise human being whose answers to serious questions made sense. — Freeman Dyson

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The biologists have essentially been pushed aside. Al Gore's just an opportunist. The person who is really responsible for this overestimate of global warming is Jim Hansen. He consistently exaggerates all the dangers. — Freeman Dyson

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I had the good luck a few years ago to visit the archeological site of Zippori in Israel ... I could see here displayed the Greek culture that Jesus decisively rejected, the same Greek culture that infiltrated the Christian religion soon after his death and has dominated Christianity ever since. — Freeman Dyson

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I don't believe in technological determinism, especially not in biology and medicine. We have strong laws to keep doctors from monkeying around with humans that will remain in place. It's simply not true that everything that is technologically possible gets done. — Freeman Dyson

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It's better to get mugged than to live a life of fear. — Freeman Dyson

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Science in its everyday practice is much closer to art than to philosophy. When I look at Godel's proof of his undecidability theorem, I do not see a philosophical argument. The proof is a soaring piece of architecture, as unique and as lovely as Chartres Cathedral. Godel took Hilbert's formalized axioms of mathematics as his building blocks and built out of them a lofty structure of ideas into which he could finally insert his undecidable arithmetical statement as the keystone of the arch. The proof is a great work of art. It is a construction, not a reduction. It destroyed Hilbert's dream of reducing all mathematics to a few equations, and replaced it with a greater dream of mathematics as an endlessly growing realm of ideas. Godel proved that in mathematics the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts. Every formalization of mathematics raises questions that reach beyond the limits of the formalism into unexplored territory. — Freeman Dyson

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After all, Rutherford had as deep a sense of the mysteries of nature as Einstein. And the human spirit expresses itself as eloquently in the work of human hands as in the work of human minds. Rutherford was supreme as an experimenter and Einstein was supreme as a theorist, but each of them held the other in deep respect. Both of them understood that the human spirit is at its best when hands and minds are working together. — Freeman Dyson

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We simply don't know yet what's going to happen to the carbon in the atmosphere. — Freeman Dyson

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I like people who are working on practical things and who are working in teams. It's not so important to get the glory. It's much more important to get something that works. It's a better way to live. — Freeman Dyson

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The essential fact which emerges ... is that the three smallest and most active reservoirs ( of carbon in the global carbon cycle), the atmosphere, the plants and the soil, are all of roughly the same size. This means that large human disturbance of any one of these reservoirs will have large effects on all three. We cannot hope either to understand or to manage the carbon in the atmosphere unless we understand and manage the trees and the soil too. — Freeman Dyson

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The history of mathematics is a history of horrendously difficult
problems being solved by young people too ignorant to know that they were
impossible. — Freeman Dyson

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The international community of scientists may help to abolish war by setting an example to the world of practical cooperation extending across barriers of nationality, language, and culture. — Freeman Dyson

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I grew up in England and we spent most of the time on Latin and Greek and very little on science, and I think that was good because it meant we didn't get turned off. It was ... Science was something we did for fun and not because we had to. — Freeman Dyson

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The ground of science was littered with the corpses of dead unified theories. — Freeman Dyson

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The idea that global warming is the most important problem facing the world is total nonsense and is doing a lot of harm. — Freeman Dyson

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Sometimes we talked about the nature of the human soul and about the Cosmic Unity of souls that I had believed in so firmly when I was 15 years old. My mother did not like the phrase Cosmic Unity. It was too pretentious. She preferred to call it a world soul. — Freeman Dyson

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Biology is now bigger than physics, as measured by the size of budgets, by the size of the workforce, or by the output of major discoveries; and biology is likely to remain the biggest part of science through the twenty-first century. — Freeman Dyson

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When I listen to the public debates about climate change, I am impressed by the enormous gaps in our knowledge, the sparseness of our observations and the superficiality of our theories. — Freeman Dyson

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I see a bright future for the biotechnology industry when it follows the path of the computer industry, the path that von Neumann failed to foresee, becoming small and domesticated rather than big and centralized. — Freeman Dyson

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The only way to improve the chances for finding winners is to keep all the choices open and try them all. — Freeman Dyson

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Most of what we see in the universe is dust. — Freeman Dyson

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Aviation is the branch of engineering that is least forgiving of mistakes. — Freeman Dyson

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You ask: what is the meaning or purpose of life? I can only answer with another question: do you think we are wise enough to read God's mind? — Freeman Dyson

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The laws of nature are constructed in such a way as to make the universe as interesting as possible. — Freeman Dyson

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One of the memorable moments of my life was when Willard Libby came to Princeton with a little jar full of crystals of barium xenate. A stable compound, looking like common salt, but much heavier. This was the magic of chemistry, to see xenon trapped into a crystal. — Freeman Dyson

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Science is my territory, but science fiction is the landscape of my dreams. — Freeman Dyson

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Scepticism is as important for a good journalist as it is for a good scientist. — Freeman Dyson

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Have felt it myself. The glitter of nuclear weapons. It is irresistible if you come to them as a scientist. To feel it's there in your hands, to release this energy that fuels the stars, to let it do your bidding. To perform these miracles, to lift a million tons of rock into the sky. It is something that gives people an illusion of illimitable power and it is, in some ways, responsible for all our troubles - this, what you might call technical arrogance, that overcomes people when they see what they can do with their minds. — Freeman Dyson

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Boiled down to one sentence, my message is the unboundedness of life and the unboundedness of human destiny. — Freeman Dyson

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We have no reason to think that climate change is harmful if you look at the world as a whole. Most places, in fact, are better off being warmer than being colder. And historically, the really bad times for the environment and for people have been the cold periods rather than the warm periods. — Freeman Dyson

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Keynes was chief economic adviser to the British government and largely responsible for keeping the British economy afloat at a time when more than half of our gross national product, and all of out foreign exchange, was being spent on the war ... I was lucky to be present at one of his rare appearances in Cambridge, when he gave a lecture with the title "Newton, the Man." ... Four years later he died of heart failure, precipitated by overwork and the hardships of crossing the Atlantic repeatedly in slow propeller-driven airplanes under wartime conditions. — Freeman Dyson

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Galison uses the phrase "critical opalescence" to sum up the story of what happened in 1905 when relativity was discovered. Critical opalescence is a strikingly beautiful effect that is seen when water is heated to a temperature of 374 degrees Celsius under high pressure. 374 degrees is called the critical temperature of water. It is the temperature at which water turns continuously into steam without boiling. At the critical temperature and pressure, water and steam are indistinguishable. They are a single fluid, unable to make up its mind whether to be a gas or a liquid. In that critical state, the fluid is continually fluctuating between gas and liquid, and the fluctuations are seen visually as a multicolored sparkling. The sparkling is called opalescence because it is also seen in opal jewels which have a similar multicolored radiance. — Freeman Dyson

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Many of the technologies that are now racing ahead most rapidly, replacing human workers in factories and offices with machines, making stockholders richer and workers poorer, are indeed tending to accentuate the existing inequalities in the distribution of wealth. — Freeman Dyson

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The reason Dick's physics was so hard for ordinary people to grasp was that he did not use equations. The usual theoretical physics was done since the time of Newton was to begin by writing down some equations and then to work hard calculating solutions of the equations. This was the way Hans and Oppy and Julian Schwinger did physics. Dick just wrote down the solutions out of his head without ever writing down the equations. He had a physical picture of the way things happen, and the picture gave him the solutions directly with a minimum of calculation. It was no wonder that people who had spent their lives solving equations were baffled by him. Their minds were analytical; his was pictorial. — Freeman Dyson

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The debacle of European pacifism has at least one clear lesson to teach us: pacifists, if they are to be effective in the modern world, must be as wholehearted and as brave as Gandhi. — Freeman Dyson

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Our thinking is permeated by our historical myths — Freeman Dyson

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Just because you see pictures of glaciers falling into the ocean doesn't mean anything bad is happening. This is something that happens all the time. It's part of the natural cycle of things. We know from measurements that glaciers have been melting for 200 years at least. — Freeman Dyson

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Some things go better than you expected, other things go worse, so I'm ... I think the only sensible thing is just to wait and see and what I'm doing when I'm writing books - I'm not doing science so much anymore. — Freeman Dyson

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The technologies that raise the fewest ethical problems are those that work on a human scale, brightening the lives of individual people. — Freeman Dyson

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Scientists who become icons must not only be geniuses but also performers, playing to the crowd and enjoying public acclaim. — Freeman Dyson

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The greatest unsolved mysteries are the mysteries of our existence as conscious beings in a small corner of a vast universe. — Freeman Dyson

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I belonged to a small minority of boys who were lacking in physical strength and athletic prowess ... We found our refuge in science ... We learned that science is a revenge of victims against oppressors, that science is a territory of freedom and friendship in the midst of tyranny and hatred. — Freeman Dyson

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It is our task, both in science and in society at large, to prove the conventional wisdom wrong and to make our unpredictable dreams come true — Freeman Dyson

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The public has a distorted view of science because children are taught in school that science is a collection of firmly established truths. In fact, science is not a collection of truths. It is a continuing exploration of mysteries. — Freeman Dyson

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The average ground temperature of the Earth is impossible to measure since most of the Earth is ocean ... So this average ground temperature is a fiction. — Freeman Dyson

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In the future, a new generation of artists will be writing genomes as fluently as Blake and Byron wrote verses. — Freeman Dyson

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For some days I quietly worked out in my own mind the metaphysics of Cosmic Unity. The more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that it was the living truth. It was logically incontrovertible. It provided for the first time a firm foundation for ethics. It offered mankind the radical change of heart and mind that was our only hope of peace at a time of desperate danger. Only one small problem remained. I must find a way to convert the world to my way of thinking. — Freeman Dyson

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We must be careful not to discourage our twelve-year-olds by making them waste the best years of their lives preparing for examinations. — Freeman Dyson

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Technology without morality is barbarous; morality without technology is impotent. — Freeman Dyson

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The average student emerges at the end of the Ph.D. program, already middle-aged, overspecialized, poorly prepared for the world outside, and almost unemployable except in a narrow area of specialization. Large numbers of students for whom the program is inappropriate are trapped in it, because the Ph.D. has become a union card required for entry into the scientific job market. — Freeman Dyson

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As science has become more abstract and remote from everyday experience, the role of metaphor in our descriptions of the world has become more central. The language that nature speaks, as Galileo long pointed out, is mathematics. The language that ordinary human beings speak, especially those of us who are not fluent in mathematics, is metaphor. Lightman ends his discussion with another metaphor: "We are blind men, imagining what we don't see." That is a good description of theoretical physics. — Freeman Dyson

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I'm a mathematician, basically. What I do is look around for problems where I can find useful applications for mathematics. All I do, really, is the math, and other people have the ideas. — Freeman Dyson

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I have the freedom to do what I want ... bright people to talk to every day. — Freeman Dyson

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If we had a reliable way to label our toys good and bad, it would be easy to regulate technology wisely. But we can rarely see far enough ahead to know which road leads to damnation. Whoever concerns himself with big technology, either to push it forward or to stop it, is gambling in human lives. — Freeman Dyson

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Science is a human activity, and the best way to understand it is to understand the individual human beings who practise it. Science is an art form and not a philosophical method. The great advances in science usually result from new tools rather than from new doctrines ... Every time we introduce a new tool, it always leads to new and unexpected discoveries, because Nature's imagination is richer than ours. — Freeman Dyson

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Most of the papers which are submitted to the Physical Review are rejected, not because it is impossible to understand them, but because it is possible. Those which are impossible to understand are usually published. — Freeman Dyson