Freeman Dyson

Pushing the Boundaries is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and former mathematical physicist and writer Freeman Dyson, who was one of the most celebrated polymaths of our age. Freeman Dyson had his academic home for more than 60 years at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He has reshaped thinking in fields from math to astrophysics to medicine, while pondering nuclear-propelled spaceships designed to transport human colonists to distant planets.

During this extensive conversation Freeman looks back on his simultaneously transformative careers in theoretical physics, mathematics, biology, rocket ship design, nuclear disarmament and writing.

This carefully-edited book includes an introduction, Pure and Applied, and questions for discussion at the end of each chapter:

  1. Debating Exceptionalism – Personal and professional
  2. In Praise of Rebels – Moving science forwards
  3. Against Reductionism – Valuing the specific
  4. Foundational Issues – From the anthropic principle to free will
  5. Current Mysteries – From dark energy to quasicrystals
  6. The Origin of Life – RNA as a parasite
  7. Space Travel – Manned vs. unmanned
  8. Science and Society – Climate change and more
  9. Religion – Another path
  10. Final Thoughts – Neuroscience and Chinese string theorists



Available in electronic format on all major booksellers, including:




Pushing the Boundaries is also part of the five-part Ideas Roadshow Collection, Conversations About Physics, Volume 2, which is available in both paperback and electronic format.