With Freeman Dyson's astonishing forecasts for the future, it's hard to tell where science ends and science fiction begins. But far from being a wild-eyed visionary, Dyson is a clear and sober thinker -- and one not afraid of controversy or heresy.
From inventing Dyson Spheres, a sci-fi conceit postulating habitable shells around Sol-like stars, to "space chickens" and trees that grow in comets, Freeman Dyson is not afraid to go out on a cosmic limb. It would be wrong, however, to categorize him as a publicity-hungry peddler of headline-grabbing ideas. In his 60-year career as one of planet Earth's most distinguished scientists, several things characterize Dyson more than anything else: compassion, caution and overwhelming humanism.
In addition to his work as a scientist, Dyson is a renowned and best-selling author. His most recent book, A Many-Colored Glass, tackles nothing less than biotechnology, religion and the role of life in the universe. He does not shy away from controversy: His recent critiques of the politics of the global warming debate have raised the hackles of some environmentalists. But far from wielding his conclusions like a bludgeon, Dyson wants younger generations of scientists to take away one thing from his work -- the necessity to create heresies of their own.
“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.”
“The pain of childbirth is not remembered. It’s the child that’s remembered.”