Articles

This is the third article in our four-part series exploring quantum electrodynamics. After struggling with a theory plagued by unwieldy infinities an ingenious trick put QED back on track.

This is the last article in a four-part series exploring quantum electrodynamics. After a breakthrough that tamed QED in theory, the stick-like drawings known as Feynman diagrams, policed by a young Freeman Dyson, made the theory useable.

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.

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.

Space is the stage on which physics happens. It's unaffected by what happens in it and it would still be there if everything in it disappeared. This is how we learn to think about space at school. But the idea is as novel as it is out-dated.

Cutting the threads of the spacetime fabric and reinstating the aether could lead to a theory of quantum gravity.

To understand how spacetime might have emerged in the early cosmos we need to heat up the equations, and thaw the space and time dimensions.