Birds and frogs in mathematics and physics
Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, USA
Some scientists are birds, others are frogs. Birds fly high in the air and survey broad vistas of mathematics out to the far horizon. They delight in concepts that unify our thinking and bring together diverse problems from different parts of the landscape. Frogs live in the mud below and see only the flowers that grow nearby. They delight in the details of particular objects, and they solve problems one at a time. A brief history of mathematics and its applications in physics is presented in this article.
Einstein lecture prepared by F Dyson for the meeting of the American
Mathematical Society in Vancouver, Canada, 4 November 2008; published in the Notices of the American Mathematical Society 56 (2) 212 — 223
(2009). The text of the lecture was revised for Uspekhi Fizicheskikh Nauk
[Physics-Uspekhi] by the author in June 2009 and is published here by the
kind permission of the American Mathematical Society.