Freeman Dyson loves the metaphor that divides scientists into two groups: Birds, who look down upon everything and have a God’s-eye view of the world, and frogs, who spend their time in the mud. The renowned Princeton physicist calls himself a frog. “I’m not against the first group, but they take an exalted view of science. Frogs typically enjoy exploring things locally and developing skills.”
The brilliant frog has spent his lifetime developing skills in disciplines ranging from nuclear engineering to science writing. But he is probably better known to the digerati as the father of computer consultant extraordinaire Esther Dyson. Nonetheless, the slightly built Freeman Dyson is a giant among scientists, largely due to his talents as a writer.
In making his observations, he thinks with his heart and hands, qualities he values as an essential part of sound scientific inquiry. This thinking is also an essential part of art. So it is no surprise that Dyson equates scientific inquiry with craftsmanship. Perhaps this is the self-styled frog’s greatest legacy: to be down in the mud, engaging in the tactility of life as a human who happens to be a scientist.
[Thanks to Arun Katiyar for the link.]