Freeman Dyson will be the next speaker in the Richard E. Snyder President's Lecture Series at Tufts

September 17, 2009

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MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. -- Tufts University will present physicist Freeman Dyson as the 11th speaker in the Richard E. Snyder President's Lecture Series on Oct. 1 at 4:30 p.m. in ASEAN Auditorium, Cabot Intercultural Center, on Tufts University's Medford/Somerville campus. He will discuss "Nukes and Genomes: Two Genies Out of the Bottle." Members of the news media who would like to attend should contact Suzanne Miller at 617-627-4703 for a reserved seat.

Recently described by the New York Times Magazine as a "Civil Heretic," Dyson is known for his probing intellect that sometimes goes against the grain of conventional wisdom. In his talk, Dyson is expected to address warfare and weapons by discussing nuclear weapons -- which he considers "the worst evil" -- nuclear disarmament, missile defense systems and terrorism. He will also talk about biotechnology and the future of genomes. Dyson predicts that the future holds "an age of domesticated biotechnology" that will take over from our current "age of computers." Other topics Dyson has not shied away from include space exploration and the likelihood of humans living in space colonies, global warming, and issues related to science and religion.

Such thought-provoking issues are exactly what Richard E. Snyder had in mind when he established the President's Lecture Series at Tufts. The series -- funded by Snyder, who is the former chairman and CEO of Simon and Schuster and a 1955 Tufts graduate -- is designed to bring to Tufts speakers who challenge conventional wisdom in their professional work.
Dyson has written a number of books about science for the general public. "The Sun, the Genome and the Internet" (1999) discusses the question of whether modern technology could be used to narrow the gap between rich and poor rather than widen it. "Origins of Life" (1986, second edition 1999) is a study of one of the major unsolved problems of science. "Infinite in all directions" (1988) is a philosophical meditation based on Dyson's Gifford Lectures on Natural Theology given at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. "Weapons of Hope" (1984) is a study of ethical problems of war and peace. "Disturbing the Universe" (1974) is a portrait-gallery of people he has known during his career as a scientist.
Dyson is now professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He was born in England and worked as a civilian scientist for the Royal Air Force in World War 2. He graduated from Cambridge University in 1945 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics. He went on to Cornell University as a graduate student in 1947 and worked with Hans Bethe and Richard Feynman. His most useful contribution to science was the unification of the three versions of quantum electrodynamics invented by Feynman, Schwinger and Tomonaga.
Cornell University made him a professor despite his lack of Ph.D. He subsequently worked on nuclear reactors, solid state physics, ferromagnetism, astrophysics and biology, looking for problems where elegant mathematics could be usefully applied. Dyson is a fellow of the American Physical Society, a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the Royal Society of London. In 2000 he was awarded the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.
About Tufts University
Tufts University, located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville, and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university's schools is widely encouraged.