This is the second article in our four-part series exploring quantum electrodynamics. After successfully applying quantum mechanics to the electromagnetic field, physicists faced a problem of boundless proportions: every calculation they made returned infinity as the answer.
In February this year we were lucky enough to interview
Freeman Dyson at the Institute for Advanced Studies in
Princeton, USA. Dyson is now 89 and still does physics every day in
his first floor office at the Institute.
Here is an edited version of our interview that we hope conveys his
generous nature, wit and intellect.
You may have heard of quantum theory and you probably know what a field is. But what is quantum field theory? This article traces the development of quantum electrodynamics in the first half of the 20th century. Hair raising difficulties, heroic struggle and illustrious characters — this story has it all!
Are number, space and time features of the outside world or a result of the brain circuitry we have developed to live in it? Some interesting parallels between modern neuroscience and the mathematics of 19th century mathematician Bernard Riemann.
Remember how hard it was to fold maps? Mathematicians have struggled with map folding problems for ages but a recent insight suggests there might be another way to approach them, making an unlikely connection between combinatorics, origami and engineering.
In soccer a coin toss is used to decide who goes first in a penalty shootout and similarly in American football a coin decides who plays offence in overtime. But is this really fair? This article explores an alternative.