FROM EROS TO GAIA by Freeman Dyson


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 Dyson (Physics/Princeton's Institute for Advanced Studies; Weapons and Hope, 1984, etc.) cleans house with this stimulating collection of 35 articles, lectures, and essays on science and the future of humanity--less focused, by necessity, than his earlier works, but with something to satisfy every Dyson fan. The author's love of both science and literature has flourished during his long career--as evidenced by these compelling discussions of such wide-ranging topics as the underlying forces that guide scientific research; the future of physics; science education for children and adults; the ritualization of nuclear defense; the effects of increased globalization on human evolution; the interactive relationship between pollution and vegetation; and the value and potential of the emerging Gaia philosophy. Using as bookends his own first attempt at science fiction at the age of nine (inspired by the close approach near Earth in 1931 of the asteroid Eros), and a series of lectures on the ``ecology'' of scientific projects, Dyson re-creates bits and pieces of a six- decades-long train of thought on many of the important scientific discoveries of the 20th century; how the sort of research that leads to such discoveries is best encouraged; and how scientific breakthroughs can best benefit humanity. Much else is tossed in, from more technical articles written for Scientific American to book reviews, personal recollections, and predictions for the future. Nevertheless, no matter what the topic, Dyson's passion for humanity, his guarded hopes for the future, and his belief in the saving grace of the scientific pursuit of truth illuminate his writing. Together, these essays deliver the intellectual and moral punch that Dyson's readers expect, and offer an edifying wrap-up of an exceptional scientific and literary career.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-679-41307-3
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1992


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