"Maverick Genius: The Pioneering Odyssey of Freeman Dyson." By Phillip F. Schewe. Thomas Dunne. 352 pp. $25.99.
Over a long career at Princeton, Freeman Dyson, now 89, has contributed to numerous branches of physics, engineering, astronomy and more. In this chatty biography, Phillip F. Schewe charts his output, from quantum work withRichard P. Feynman onward. A long-term optimist, Dr. Dyson championed some unorthodox ideas, like nuclear-powered rocket ships to propel civilization into space. He has calmly insisted that religion and science hold no mutual threat, and, controversially, insisted that we consider the upside of global warming. Despite some strange digressions, Dr. Schewe knows the physics, and he gained access to colleagues, family -- everyone except Freeman Dyson, who politely declined, saying, "Maybe in 50 years you'll be able to tell whether I did anything important."
"Theory of Flight." Franke Program in Science and the Humanities. The Off Broadway Theater at Yale. 41 Broadway, New Haven. March 1-2, 8 p.m. Free admission.
Research meets fantasy in this performance by Anna Lindemann, a composer and artist trained in evolutionary biology. In a twist on the ancient myth of Icarus, a lecturing scientist reveals she's been growing her own wings using avian genes. Chalkboard diagrams convey the molecular biology, while vocal music and animated silhouettes advance the plot, about the risks and rewards of pursuing impossible research. After the show, Richard Prum, a Yale ornithologist, will moderate a discussion with the director and cast.
South by Southwest. Austin, Tex. Interactive (March 8-12) and Film (March 8-16).
Before the music industry converges on Austin, South by Southwest's Interactive and Film Festivals will drop some science. Stephen Wolfram will predict the future of computing, while Steve Weinberg will describe the search for a unified theory of physics. At the festival's film program, a documentary aboutStephen Hawking, above, told largely in his own words, will reveal his daily routine and "army of caregivers" that allow the celebrity physicist to continue his work.
"Climate Disruption." Mathematics and Planet Earth. Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco. March 4, 7:30 p.m. $8.50.
Droughts, wildfires, melting ice, superstorms -- scientists agree that climate is changing. But predicting the future of oceans and atmosphere is not simple. At this lecture, financed by the Simons Foundation, Emily Shuckburgh, who leads the Open Oceans research group at the British Antarctic Survey, will explain how mathematical models can guide policy.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.