a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Falling in love with Verena Haefeli


Oppenheimer's parting advice
Freeman Dyson Scientist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

[Q] And did you go speak to Oppenheimer when the time came to... what you should be doing in the future?

Yes, I talked with Oppenheimer and he said it was good that I go back to England. He thought that I should spread the word in England. I'd done all this good stuff in America, that I should go back to England and build a school in England and my future should be in England. He was very clear about that. He didn't want me to settle in the States. He wrote me a cryptic note which I was to give to the harbourmaster at Lowestoft in case of necessity, and that was the kind of obscure language he loved to use. I never really figured out what he meant, but I think the basic idea was that... and Niels Bohr in 1940... or whenever it was, I guess it was '43...

[Q] When he left...

...when the Germans - well, of course they had occupied Denmark for several years - but they were going to have a round up of all the Jews, and so he and his Jewish friends took the boat across to Sweden, and I think that was roughly what Oppenheimer had in his mind, that...

[Q] That you could always come back...

... that I could come back to Princeton, if I were in a desperate situation of that sort. But why he chose the harbourmaster at Lowestoft I never could figure out.

Freeman Dyson (1923-2020), who was born in England, moved to Cornell University after graduating from Cambridge University with a BA in Mathematics. He subsequently became a professor and worked on nuclear reactors, solid state physics, ferromagnetism, astrophysics and biology. He published several books and, among other honours, was awarded the Heineman Prize and the Royal Society's Hughes Medal.

Listeners: Sam Schweber

Silvan Sam Schweber is the Koret Professor of the History of Ideas and Professor of Physics at Brandeis University, and a Faculty Associate in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University. He is the author of a history of the development of quantum electro mechanics, "QED and the men who made it", and has recently completed a biography of Hans Bethe and the history of nuclear weapons development, "In the Shadow of the Bomb: Oppenheimer, Bethe, and the Moral Responsibility of the Scientist" (Princeton University Press, 2000).

Tags: UK, USA, Lowestoft, 1940, 1943, Denmark, Princeton University, Sweden, England, J Robert Oppenheimer, Niels Bohr

Duration: 1 minute, 48 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1998

Date story went live: 24 January 2008