13 August 2007
Freeman Dyson, Professor Emeritus of Physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, once wrote that the extraordinary Richard Feynman was "half-genius, half-buffoon", but later revised this to "all-genius, all-buffoon".
He should know - he was the guy who demonstrated in 1949 the equivalence of the formulations of quantum electodynamics that existed by that time, resulting in the joint award of the Nobel Prize of Physics in 1965 to Feynman, Schwinger and Tomonaga.
He has a new book out, excerpted below
A mere appetiser. Get the main course here:
My first heresy says that all the fuss about global warming is grossly exaggerated.
Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of climate model experts and the crowd of deluded citizens who believe the numbers predicted by the computer models. Of course, they say, I have no degree in meteorology and I am therefore not qualified to speak. But I have studied the climate models and I know what they can do. The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics, and they do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans.
They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields and farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in. The real world is muddy and messy and full of things that we do not yet understand.
It is much easier for a scientist to sit in an air-conditioned building and run computer models, than to put on winter clothes and measure what is really happening outside in the swamps and the clouds. That is why the climate model experts end up believing their own models.
A 45 minute 2001 interview of an exquisitely polite Dyson, generously tolerating a hopelessly inept Robert Wright