Freeman Dyson obituary

Brilliant theoretical physicist and mathematician whose far-fetched ideas for the future verged on the bizarre

The physicist Freeman Dyson, who has died aged 96, became famous within science for mathematical solutions so advanced that they could only be applied to complex problems of atomic theory and popular with the public for ideas so far-fetched they seemed beyond lunacy.

As a young postgraduate student, Dyson devised – while taking a Greyhound bus ride in America – the answer to a conundrum in quantum electrodynamics that had stumped giants of physics such as Richard Feynman and Hans Bethe. As an author, guru and apostle for science, Dyson also cheerfully proposed that humans might genetically engineer trees that could grow on comets, to provide new habitats for genetically altered humans.

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