Steven Weinberg

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Steven Weinberg
Steven weinberg 2010.jpg
Weinberg at the 2010 Texas Book Festival
Born (1933-05-03)May 3, 1933
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died July 24, 2021(2021-07-24) (aged 88)
Nationality American
Fields Theoretical Physics
Institutions
Education
Thesis The role of strong interactions in decay processes (1957)
Doctoral advisor Sam Treiman[1]
Doctoral students
Known for
Notable awards
Spouse Louise Weinberg (m. 1954)
Children 1
Website
web2.ph.utexas.edu/~weintech/weinberg.html

Steven Weinberg (/ˈwnbɜːrɡ/; born May 3, 1933, died July 24, 2021[5]) was an American theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate in Physics for his contributions with Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashow to the unification of the weak force and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles.

He held the Josey Regental Chair in Science at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a member of the Physics and Astronomy Departments. His research on elementary particles and physical cosmology was honored with numerous prizes and awards, including in 1979 the Nobel Prize in Physics and 1991 the National Medal of Science. In 2004 he received the Benjamin Franklin Medal of the American Philosophical Society, with a citation that said he is "considered by many to be the preeminent theoretical physicist alive in the world today." He was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences and Britain's Royal Society, as well as to the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Weinberg's articles on various subjects occasionally appeared in The New York Review of Books and other periodicals. He served as a consultant at the U. S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, President of the Philosophical Society of Texas, and member of the Board of Editors of Daedalus magazine, the Council of Scholars of the Library of Congress, the JASON group of defense consultants, and many other boards and committees.[6][7]

Education and early life

Steven Weinberg was born in 1933 in New York City. His parents were Jewish[8] immigrants.[9] He graduated from Bronx High School of Science in 1950.[10] He was in the same graduating class as Sheldon Glashow, whose own research, independent of Weinberg's, would result in their (and Abdus Salam's) sharing the 1979 Nobel in Physics (see below).

Weinberg received his bachelor's degree from Cornell University in 1954. There he resided at the Telluride House. He then went to the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen where he started his graduate studies and research. After one year, Weinberg moved to Princeton University where he earned his Ph.D. in physics in 1957, completing his dissertation, titled "The role of strong interactions in decay processes", under the supervision of Sam Treiman.[1][11]

Career and research

After completing his PhD, Weinberg worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University (1957–1959) and University of California, Berkeley (1959) and then he was promoted to faculty at Berkeley (1960–1966). He did research in a variety of topics of particle physics, such as the high energy behavior of quantum field theory, symmetry breaking,[12] pion scattering, infrared photons and quantum gravity.[13] It was also during this time that he developed the approach to quantum field theory that is described in the first chapters of his book The Quantum Theory of Fields[14] and started to write his textbook Gravitation and Cosmology.

In 1966, Weinberg left Berkeley and accepted a lecturer position at Harvard. In 1967 he was a visiting professor at MIT. It was in that year at MIT that Weinberg proposed his model of unification of electromagnetism and nuclear weak forces (such as those involved in beta-decay and kaon-decay),[15] with the masses of the force-carriers of the weak part of the interaction being explained by spontaneous symmetry breaking. One of its fundamental aspects was the prediction of the existence of the Higgs boson. Weinberg's model, now known as the electroweak unification theory, had the same symmetry structure as that proposed by Glashow in 1961: hence both models included the then-unknown weak interaction mechanism between leptons, known as neutral current and mediated by the Z boson. The 1973 experimental discovery of weak neutral currents[16] (mediated by this Z boson) was one verification of the electroweak unification. The paper by Weinberg in which he presented this theory is one of the most cited works ever in high-energy physics.[17]

After his 1967 seminal work on the unification of weak and electromagnetic interactions, Steven Weinberg continued his work in many aspects of particle physics, quantum field theory, gravity, supersymmetry, superstrings and cosmology, as well as a theory called Technicolor.

In the years after 1967, the full Standard Model of elementary particle theory was developed through the work of many contributors. In it, the weak and electromagnetic interactions already unified by the work of Weinberg, Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashow, are made consistent with a theory of the strong interactions between quarks, in one overarching theory. In 1973 Weinberg proposed a modification of the Standard Model which did not contain that model's fundamental Higgs boson.

Weinberg became Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics at Harvard University in 1973.

In 1979 he pioneered the modern view on the renormalization aspect of quantum field theory that considers all quantum field theories as effective field theories and changed the viewpoint of previous work (including his own in his 1967 paper) that a sensible quantum field theory must be renormalizable.[18] This approach allowed the development of effective theory of quantum gravity,[19] low energy QCD, heavy quark effective field theory and other developments, and it is a topic of considerable interest in current research.

In 1979, some six years after the experimental discovery of the neutral currents – i.e. the discovery of the inferred existence of the Z boson – but following the 1978 experimental discovery of the theory's predicted amount of parity violation due to Z bosons' mixing with electromagnetic interactions,[20] Weinberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, together with Sheldon Glashow, and Abdus Salam who had independently proposed a theory of electroweak unification based on spontaneous symmetry breaking.

In 1982 Weinberg moved to the University of Texas at Austin as the Jack S. Josey-Welch Foundation Regents Chair in Science and founded the Theory Group of the Physics Department.

There is current (2008) interest in Weinberg's 1976 proposal of the existence of new strong interactions[21] – a proposal dubbed "Technicolor" by Leonard Susskind – because of its chance of being observed in the LHC as an explanation of the hierarchy problem.[22]

Steven Weinberg is frequently among the top scientists with the highest research effect indices, such as the h-index and the creativity index.[23]

Steven Weinberg in December, 2014

Other contributions

Besides his scientific research, Steven Weinberg has been a public spokesman for science, testifying before Congress in support of the Superconducting Super Collider, writing articles for the New York Review of Books,[24] and giving various lectures on the larger meaning of science. His books on science written for the public combine the typical scientific popularization with what is traditionally considered history and philosophy of science and atheism.

Weinberg was a major participant in what is known as the Science Wars, standing with Paul R. Gross, Norman Levitt, Alan Sokal, Lewis Wolpert, and Richard Dawkins, on the side arguing for the hard realism of science and scientific knowledge and against the constructionism proposed by such social scientists as Stanley Aronowitz, Barry Barnes, David Bloor, David Edge, Harry Collins, Steve Fuller, and Bruno Latour.

Although still teaching physics, he has, in recent years, turned his hand to the history of science, efforts that culminated in To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science (2015).[25] A hostile review[26] in the Wall Street Journal by Steven Shapin attracted a number of commentaries,[27] a response by Weinberg,[25] and an exchange of views between Weinberg and Arthur Silverstein in the NYRB in February 2016.[28]

In 2016, he became a default leader for faculty and students opposed to a new law that allowed the carrying of concealed guns in UT classrooms. Weinberg announced that he would be prohibiting guns from his classes, and said he would stand by his decision to violate university regulations in this matter even if faced with a lawsuit.[29]

Personal life

Weinberg married Louise Weinberg in 1954. They have one daughter, Elizabeth.[10]

Politics

Weinberg identifies himself as a liberal.[30] He is also known for his support of Israel, which he has characterised as "the 'most exposed salient' in a war between liberal democracies and Muslim theocracies."[31] He wrote an essay in 1997 titled "Zionism and Its Adversaries" to explain his views on the issue.[32][30]

In the 2000s, Weinberg canceled trips to universities in the United Kingdom because of the British boycotts directed towards Israel. At the time, he explained:

Given the history of the attacks on Israel and the oppressiveness and aggressiveness of other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere, boycotting Israel indicated a moral blindness for which it is hard to find any explanation other than antisemitism.[33]

Views on religion

Weinberg is an atheist.[34] Weinberg stated his views on religion in 1999:

Frederick Douglass told in his Narrative how his condition as a slave became worse when his master underwent a religious conversion that allowed him to justify slavery as the punishment of the children of Ham. Mark Twain described his mother as a genuinely good person, whose soft heart pitied even Satan, but who did not doubt the legitimacy of slavery, because in years of living in antebellum Missouri she had never heard any sermon opposing slavery, but only countless sermons preaching that slavery was God's will. With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion.[35]

Before he was an advocate of the Big Bang theory Weinberg stated:[36]

The steady state theory is philosophically the most attractive theory because it least resembles the account given in Genesis.

Honors and awards

Queen Beatrix meets Nobel laureates in 1983. Weinberg is to the left of the queen.

The honors and awards that Professor Weinberg received include:

Selected publications

A list of Weinberg's publications can be found on the arXiv[42] and Scopus.[43]

Bibliography: books authored / coauthored

Scholarly articles

Popular articles

  • A Designer Universe?, a refutation of attacks on the theories of evolution and cosmology (e.g., those conducted under the rubric of intelligent design) is based on a talk given in April 1999 at the Conference on Cosmic Design of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. This and other works express Weinberg's strongly held position that scientists should be less passive in defending science against anti-science religiosity.
  • Beautiful Theories, an article reprinted from Dreams of a Final Theory by Steven Weinberg in 1992 which focuses on the nature of beauty in physical theories.
  • The Crisis of Big Science, May 10, 2012, New York Review of Books. Weinberg places the cancellation of the Superconducting Super Collider in the context of a bigger national and global socio-economic crisis, including a general crisis in funding for science research and the provision of adequate education, healthcare, transportation, and communication infrastructure, and criminal justice and law enforcement.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Steven Weinberg at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  2. "Steven Weinberg". Physics Tree (academictree.org).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Professor Steven Weinberg ForMemRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on November 12, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Fellowship of the Royal Society 1660-2015". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on July 15, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Physics Nobel Laureate, Steven Weinberg's Cause of Death". US day News. July 24, 2021. Retrieved July 24, 2021.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "| American Institute of Physics". www.aip.org.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Leslie, J, "Never-ending universe", a review in the Times Literary Supplement of Weinberg's 2015 book To explain the World".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Three Scientists Win Nobel Prize". jta.org. October 16, 1979.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Muster Mark's Quarks". Archived from the original on July 25, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 "Steven Weinberg – Biographical". nobelprize.org. Retrieved January 25, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Weinberg, Steven (June 16, 1957). "The role of strong interactions in decay processes" – via catalog.princeton.edu.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "From BCS to the LHC - CERN Courier". January 21, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. A partial list of this work is: Weinberg, S. (1960). "High-Energy Behavior in Quantum Field Theory". Phys. Rev. 118 (3): 838–849. Bibcode:1960PhRv..118..838W. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.118.838.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; Weinberg, S.; Salam, Abdus; Weinberg, Steven (1962). "Broken Symmetries". Phys. Rev. 127 (3): 965–970. Bibcode:1962PhRv..127..965G. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.127.965.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; Weinberg, S. (1966). "Pion Scattering Lengths". Phys. Rev. Lett. 17 (11): 616–621. Bibcode:1966PhRvL..17..616W. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.17.616.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; Weinberg, S. (1965). "Infrared Photons and Gravitons". Phys. Rev. 140 (2B): B516–B524. Bibcode:1965PhRv..140..516W. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.140.B516.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Weinberg, S. (1964). "Feynman Rules for Any spin". Phys. Rev. 133 (5B): B1318–B1332. Bibcode:1964PhRv..133.1318W. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.133.B1318.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; Weinberg, S. (1964). "Feynman Rules for Any spin. II. Massless Particles". Phys. Rev. 134 (4B): B882–B896. Bibcode:1964PhRv..134..882W. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.134.B882.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>; Weinberg, S. (1969). "Feynman Rules for Any spin. III". Phys. Rev. 181 (5): 1893–1899. Bibcode:1969PhRv..181.1893W. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.181.1893.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Weinberg, S. (1967). "A Model of Leptons" (PDF). Phys. Rev. Lett. 19 (21): 1264–1266. Bibcode:1967PhRvL..19.1264W. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.19.1264. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 12, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Haidt, D. (2004). "The discovery of the weak neutral currents". CERN Courier.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[1]
  17. INSPIRE-HEP: Top Cited Articles of All Time (2015 edition)
  18. Weinberg, S. (1979). "Phenomenological Lagrangians". Physica. 96 (1–2): 327–340. Bibcode:1979PhyA...96..327W. doi:10.1016/0378-4371(79)90223-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Donoghue, J. F. (1994). "General relativity as an effective field theory: The leading quantum corrections". Phys. Rev. D. 50 (6): 3874–3888. arXiv:gr-qc/9405057. Bibcode:1994PhRvD..50.3874D. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.50.3874. PMID 10018030. S2CID 14352660.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Charles Y. Prescott (June 26–30, 1978). Parity violation in inelastic scattering of polarized electrons (PDF). Sixth Trieste Conference on Particle Physics. AIP Conference Proceedings. 51. Trieste, Italy: American Institute of Physics. p. 202. doi:10.1063/1.31766.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Weinberg, S. (1976). "Implications of dynamical symmetry breaking". Phys. Rev. D. 13 (4): 974–996. Bibcode:1976PhRvD..13..974W. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.13.974.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Steven Weinberg on LHC on YouTube
  23. In 2006 Weinberg had the second-highest creativity index among physicists World's most creative physicist revealed. physicsworld.com (June 17, 2006).
  24. Articles by Steven Weinberg. New York Review of Books. Nybooks.com. Retrieved on 2012-07-27.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Weinberg, Steven (2015). "Eye on the Present—The Whig History of Science". The New York Review of Books. 62 (20): 82, 84. Retrieved February 9, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. Shapin, Stephen (February 13, 2015). "Why Scientists Shouldn't Write History". wsj.com. Retrieved February 11, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Bouterse, Jeroen (May 31, 2015). "Weinberg, Whiggism, and the World in History of Science". Shells and Pebbles. Retrieved February 11, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. Silverstein, Arthur; Weinberg, Steven (2016). "The Whig History of Science: An Exchange". The New York Review of Books. 63 (3). Retrieved February 11, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. Mekelburg, Madlin (January 26, 2016). "Nobel Laureate Becomes Reluctant Anti-Gun Leader, by Madlin Mekelburg". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved February 9, 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. 30.0 30.1 Weinberg, Steven (2001). "Zionism and Its Adversaries". Facing Up: Science and Its Cultural Adversaries. Harvard University Press. pp. 181–183. ISBN 0674011201.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. Ronan McGreevy (February 12, 2009). "Nobel winner defends Israel's actions". The Irish Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. The essay was first published in the "Zionism at 100" issue of the New Republic (September 8-15, 1997, pages 22-23). It was later reprinted in his book of collected essays, Facing Up.
  33. "Nobel laureate cancels London trip due to anti-Semitism". YNet News Jewish Daily. May 24, 2007. Retrieved June 1, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. Weinberg, Steven (September 25, 2008). "Without God". The New York Review of Books.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. Weinberg, Steven. "A Designer Universe?". Retrieved January 28, 2016. This article is based on a talk given in April 1999 at the Conference on Cosmic Design of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Ibid. footnote 1.
  36. Richard Feist (November 30, 2017). Religion and the Challenges of Science. Taylor & Francis. pp. 174–. ISBN 978-1-351-15038-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. https://www.aps.org/programs/honors/fellowships/archive-all.cfm?initial=W&year=&unit_id=&institution=
  38. Walter, Claire (1982). Winners, the blue ribbon encyclopedia of awards. Facts on File Inc. p. 438. ISBN 978-0-87196-386-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  39. "Weinberg awarded Oppenheimer Prize". Physics Today. American Institute of Physics. 26 (3): 87. March 1973. Bibcode:1973PhT....26c..87.. doi:10.1063/1.3127994.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  40. "Benjamin Franklin Medal for Distinguished Achievement in the Sciences Recipients". American Philosophical Society. Retrieved November 26, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  41. "UT professor wins $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics". kvue.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  42. "arXiv.org Search". arxiv.org.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  43. Steven Weinberg's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database, a service provided by Elsevier.
  44. Sethi, Savdeep (2002). "Review: The quantum theory of fields. III Supersymmetry, by Steven Weinberg" (PDF). Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. (N.S.). 39 (3): 433–439. doi:10.1090/s0273-0979-02-00944-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

  • Symbol question.svg[[Category:Nobel Prize in {{{1}}} winners]] including the Nobel Lecture, December 8, 1979 Conceptual Foundations of the Unified Theory of Weak and Electromagnetic Interactions
  • Appearances on C-SPAN

Template:1979 Nobel Prize winners Template:FRS 1981