What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close
With rendition switcher

Transcript

Question: How did you first become interested in science?

Freeman Dyson:  Yeah, it’s hard to tell of course, but I’ve been interested in science certainly from a child.  I was mostly interested in numbers.  I was calculating things at a very young age.  I just fell in love with numbers and then it spread from there to the rest of nature and I became…  I remember the total eclipse of the sun, which happened when I was three, and I was furious with my father because he wouldn’t take us to see it.  It would have meant about a whole day’s driving and anyways, so he said no, you can’t see the partial eclipse and that’s it, and I thought that was terribly unfair.

Question: What was your science education like?

Freeman Dyson:  So, well I never learned much science in school.  That was I think an advantage in the old days.  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.

Question: What was your experience of World War II like?

Freeman Dyson:  Yes, well I was 15 when the war started, so for a long time I just stayed in school, but then so I was lucky.  I had only two years of the war and so I went to work for the Royal Air Force when I was 19, which was already just two years before it ended, so I went to the **** headquarters and that was July ’43, and so I had just two years of it, the last two years and I was working as a statistician mostly just collecting all the information about the Air Force operations, particularly the bombing of Germany, so I had a sort of front-row seat view of that.  Of course it was a total shambles, the whole campaign.  It was a great tragedy for both sides and, well, there was nothing I could do about it.

Recorded March 5th, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen

 

An Education in Science and...

Newsletter: Share: