In telling stories of technologies and the individuals who created them, George Dyson takes a clear-eyed view of our scientific past — while illuminating what lies ahead.

Why you should listen

The development of the Aleutian kayak, its adaptation by Russians in the 18th and 19th centuries, and his own redevelopment of the craft in the 1970s was chronicled in George Dyson’s Baidarka: The Kayak of 1986. His 1997 Darwin Among the Machines: The Evolution of Global Intelligence (“the last book about the Internet written without the Internet”) explored the history and prehistory of digital computing and telecommunications as a manifestation of the convergent destiny of organisms and machines.

Project Orion: The True Story of the Atomic Spaceship, published in 2002, assembled first-person interviews and recently declassified documents to tell the story of a path not taken into space: a nuclear-powered spaceship whose objective was to land a party of 100 people on Mars four years before we landed two people on the Moon. Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe, published in 2012, illuminated the transition from numbers that mean things to numbers that do things in the aftermath of World War II.

Dyson’s current project, Analogia, is a semi-autobiographical reflection on how analog computation is re-establishing control over the digital world.

George Dyson’s TED talks

George Dyson on the TED Blog
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Live from TED2014

Progress for “the blue heart of the planet” and a plan to de-extinct a kayak: A recap of “Planet Dearth,” All-Stars Session 1 at TED2014

March 18, 2014

By Liz Jacobs and Kate Torgovnick Are we on the brink of a resource crisis? All signs point to yes. As the human population grows, the planet is buckling under the pressure of our needs. In this inaugural All-Stars session, 11 classic TED speakers return to the stage to share their deep concern for preserving […]

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Biology

New Edge videos explore the staggering potential of genetics

July 31, 2009

What is life? Can we create it? Customize it? Edge has just published over six hours of video from their new Master Class on the future of biology, which attempts to answer those and other provocative questions. Featuring geneticists George Church and Craig Venter, the set is a a surprising, challenging look at what science […]

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Can science help solve the economic crisis?

December 14, 2008

The latest edition of Edge.org is a fascinating discussion on the role scientists might play in difficult financial times. The issue features a few TED speakers, including George Dyson and Michael Shermer. Try this snippet: In all of this work economists, accountants and financial mathematicians should join forces with complexity theorists and other scientists with […]

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Quotes from George Dyson

It’s better to have dangerous things in the open than think you’re going to keep them secret.
George Dyson
TED2002 • 677K views Feb 2008
Fascinating, Funny
I’m starting the story with the first atomic bomb at Trinity, which was the Manhattan Project. It was a little bit like TED: it brought a whole lot of very smart people together.
George Dyson
TED2003 • 593K views Jun 2008
Informative, Fascinating