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Renowned Mathematician And Physicist Freeman Dyson Has Died At Age 96

Freeman Dyson

Freeman Dyson, renowned scientist and scholar, has died at 96, according to his daughter Mia.

The British-born scientist and professor emeritus spent much of his career as a physics professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, according to his biography on the institute's website. He was among 29 scientists who supported the Obama administration's 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. In 1967, he also acted as a military adviser regarding the use of tactical nuclear weapons in the Vietnam War, and in 1984 he wrote a book on the dangers of nuclear warfare.

A futurist and space-enthusiast, Dyson had several scientific concepts named after him, including the "Dyson Tree," a genetically engineered plant that would be able to survive in a comet and grow in space. One of his ideas, the Dyson Sphere, was featured in an episode of the sci-fi series Star Trek.

He was profiled in the New York Times Magazine in 2009 after expressing skepticism about the science surrounding climate change.

His daughter Mia Dyson, a nurse and pastor who lives in Freeport Maine, says she fondly remembers her father being stumped by practical things, such as how to operate a soda machine, while contemplating the brilliance of the universe.

"You could tell that the world was a beautiful place through his eyes, and somehow understanding all the formulas and the natural laws and all the mysteries he had plumbed through the study of physics, that is only grew more and more beautiful, the more he understood."

Mia Dyson says her father still regularly went to his office at IAS. On Wednesday, on such a visit, she says he suffered a fall and died of his injuries Friday morning.

He leaves behind his wife of 64 years and six children. He will be cremated with memorial arrangements to be determined.

Correction: This story incorrectly stated that Dyson died after a visit to his Princeton University office. He died after visiting his office at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

Caitlin Troutman is the Digital News and Content Producer for Maine Public. Caitlin worked as a writer and editor for various publications before discovering her love for public media at KCUR in Kansas City. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Literature and Critical Theory from the Oxbridge Honors Program at William Jewell College and the University of Oxford. She joined Maine Public in 2018.