Steven Weinberg

Last updated

Steven Weinberg ForMemRS
Steven weinberg 2010.jpg
Weinberg at the 2010 Texas Book Festival
Born (1933-05-03) May 3, 1933 (age 85)
Residence Austin, Texas
NationalityAmerican
Alma mater
Known for
Spouse(s)
Louise Weinberg (m. 1954)
Children1
Awards
Scientific career
Fields Theoretical Physics
Institutions
Thesis The role of strong interactions in decay processes  (1957)
Doctoral advisor Sam Treiman [3]
Doctoral students
Influenced Alan Guth [ citation needed ]
Website web2.ph.utexas.edu/~weintech/weinberg.html

Steven Weinberg ForMemRS ( /ˈwnbɜːrɡ/ ; born May 3, 1933) is 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.

Theoretical physics branch of physics

Theoretical physics is a branch of physics that employs mathematical models and abstractions of physical objects and systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena. This is in contrast to experimental physics, which uses experimental tools to probe these phenomena.

Physicist scientist who does research in physics

A physicist is a scientist who specializes in the field of physics, which encompasses the interactions of matter and energy at all length and time scales in the physical universe. Physicists generally are interested in the root or ultimate causes of phenomena, and usually frame their understanding in mathematical terms. Physicists work across a wide range of research fields, spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic and particle physics, through biological physics, to cosmological length scales encompassing the universe as a whole. The field generally includes two types of physicists: experimental physicists who specialize in the observation of physical phenomena and the analysis of experiments, and theoretical physicists who specialize in mathematical modeling of physical systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena. Physicists can apply their knowledge towards solving practical problems or to developing new technologies.

Nobel Prize in Physics One of the five Nobel Prizes established in 1895 by Alfred Nobel

The Nobel Prize in Physics is a yearly award given by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for those who have made the most outstanding contributions for humankind in the field of physics. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895 and awarded since 1901; the others being the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Nobel Prize in Literature, Nobel Peace Prize, and Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Contents

He holds the Josey Regental Chair in Science at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is a member of the Physics and Astronomy Departments. His research on elementary particles and physical cosmology has been honored with numerous prizes and awards, including in 1979 the Nobel Prize in Physics and in 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 has been 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.

University of Texas at Austin public research university in Austin, Texas, United States

The University of Texas at Austin is a public research university in Austin, Texas. It was founded in 1883 and is the flagship institution of the University of Texas System. The University of Texas was inducted into the Association of American Universities in 1929, becoming only the third university in the American South to be elected. The institution has the nation's eighth-largest single-campus enrollment, with over 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students and over 24,000 faculty and staff.

Elementary particle quantum particle having no known substructure; quark, electron, photon, etc.

In particle physics, an elementary particle or fundamental particle is a subatomic particle with no sub structure, thus not composed of other particles. Particles currently thought to be elementary include the fundamental fermions, which generally are "matter particles" and "antimatter particles", as well as the fundamental bosons, which generally are "force particles" that mediate interactions among fermions. A particle containing two or more elementary particles is a composite particle.

Physical cosmology branch of astronomy

Physical cosmology is a branch of cosmology concerned with the studies of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the Universe and with fundamental questions about its origin, structure, evolution, and ultimate fate. Cosmology as a science originated with the Copernican principle, which implies that celestial bodies obey identical physical laws to those on Earth, and Newtonian mechanics, which first allowed us to understand those physical laws. Physical cosmology, as it is now understood, began with the development in 1915 of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, followed by major observational discoveries in the 1920s: first, Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe contains a huge number of external galaxies beyond our own Milky Way; then, work by Vesto Slipher and others showed that the universe is expanding. These advances made it possible to speculate about the origin of the universe, and allowed the establishment of the Big Bang Theory, by Georges Lemaître, as the leading cosmological model. A few researchers still advocate a handful of alternative cosmologies; however, most cosmologists agree that the Big Bang theory explains the observations better.

Weinberg's articles on various subjects occasionally appear in The New York Review of Books and other periodicals. He has served as 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. [4] [5]

<i>The New York Review of Books</i> magazine

The New York Review of Books is a semi-monthly magazine with articles on literature, culture, economics, science and current affairs. Published in New York City, it is inspired by the idea that the discussion of important books is an indispensable literary activity. Esquire called it "the premier literary-intellectual magazine in the English language." In 1970 writer Tom Wolfe described it as "the chief theoretical organ of Radical chic".

Library of Congress (de facto) national library of the United States of America

The Library of Congress (LOC) is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress and is the de facto national library of the United States. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. The Library is housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; it also maintains the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Virginia. The Library's functions are overseen by the Librarian of Congress, and its buildings are maintained by the Architect of the Capitol. The Library of Congress has claimed to be the largest library in the world. Its "collections are universal, not limited by subject, format, or national boundary, and include research materials from all parts of the world and in more than 450 languages."

JASON is an independent group of elite scientists which advises the United States government on matters of science and technology, mostly of a sensitive nature. The group was first created as a way to get a younger generation of scientists—that is, not the older Los Alamos and MIT Radiation Laboratory alumni—involved in advising the government. It was established in 1960 and has somewhere between 30 and 60 members. Its work first gained public notoriety as the source of the Vietnam War's McNamara Line electronic barrier. Although most of its research is military-focused, JASON also produced early work on the science of global warming and acid rain. Current unclassified research interests include health informatics, cyberwarfare, and renewable energy.

Education and early life

Steven Weinberg was born in 1933 in New York City. His parents were Jewish [6] immigrants. [7] He graduated from Bronx High School of Science in 1950. [8] He was in the same graduating class as Sheldon Glashow, whose own research, independent of Weinberg's, would result in their (and Abdus Salam) sharing the 1979 Nobel in Physics (see below).

Bronx High School of Science Specialized high school in New York City

The Bronx High School of Science is a public magnet, specialized high school in Bronx, New York, United States. It is operated by the New York City Department of Education.

Sheldon Lee Glashow American theoretical physicist

Sheldon Lee Glashow is a Nobel Prize winning American theoretical physicist. He is the Metcalf Professor of Mathematics and Physics at Boston University and Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics, Emeritus, at Harvard University, and is a member of the Board of Sponsors for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Abdus Salam theoretical physicist, and Nobel Prize in Physics recipient

Mohammad Abdus Salam, was a Pakistani theoretical physicist. He shared the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics with Sheldon Glashow and Steven Weinberg for his contribution to the electroweak unification theory. He was the first Pakistani to receive a Nobel Prize in science and the second from an Islamic country to receive any Nobel Prize.

Weinberg received his bachelor's degree from Cornell University in 1954. 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 PhD degree in physics in 1957, for research supervised by Sam Treiman. [3]

Cornell University private university in Ithaca (New York, US)

Cornell University is a private and statutory Ivy League research university in Ithaca, New York. Founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, the university was intended to teach and make contributions in all fields of knowledge—from the classics to the sciences, and from the theoretical to the applied. These ideals, unconventional for the time, are captured in Cornell's founding principle, a popular 1868 Ezra Cornell quotation: "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study."

Niels Bohr Institute scientific research institute located in Copenhagen, Denmark

The Niels Bohr Institute is a research institute of the University of Copenhagen. The research of the institute spans astronomy, geophysics, nanotechnology, particle physics, quantum mechanics and biophysics.

Princeton University is a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1746 in Elizabeth as the College of New Jersey, Princeton is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. The institution moved to Newark in 1747, then to the current site nine years later, and renamed itself Princeton University in 1896.

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, [9] pion scattering, infrared photons and quantum gravity. [10] 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 [11] and started to write his textbook Gravitation and Cosmology. Both textbooks are among the most influential texts in the scientific community in their subjects.

A postdoctoral researcher or postdoc is a person professionally conducting research after the completion of their doctoral studies. The ultimate goal of a postdoctoral research position is to pursue additional research, training, or teaching in order to have better skills to pursue a career in academia, research, or any other fields. Postdocs often, but not always, have a temporary academic appointment, sometimes in preparation for an academic faculty position. They continue their studies or carry out research and further increase expertise in a specialist subject, including integrating a team and acquiring novel skills and research methods. Postdoctoral research is often considered essential while advancing the scholarly mission of the host institution; it is expected to produce relevant publications in peer-reviewed academic journals or conferences. In some countries, postdoctoral research may lead to further formal qualifications or certification, while in other countries it does not.

Columbia University Private Ivy League research university in New York City

Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in Upper Manhattan, New York City. Established in 1754, Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is one of nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence, seven of which belong to the Ivy League. It has been ranked by numerous major education publications as among the top ten universities in the world.

University of California, Berkeley Public university in California, USA

The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university in Berkeley, California. It was founded in 1868 and serves as the flagship institution of the ten research universities affiliated with the University of California system. Berkeley has since grown to instruct over 40,000 students in approximately 350 undergraduate and graduate degree programs covering numerous disciplines.

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 of nuclear weak forces (such as those involved in beta-decay and kaon-decay), [12] 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 [13] (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. [14]

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. [15] This approach allowed the development of effective theory of quantum gravity, [16] 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, 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 [17] – a proposal dubbed "Technicolor" by Leonard Susskind – because of its chance of being observed in the LHC as an explanation of the hierarchy problem. [18]

Steven Weinberg is frequently among the top scientists with highest research effect indices, such as the h-index and the creativity index. [19]

Steven Weinberg in December, 2014 Physics Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg, December, 2014.jpg
Steven Weinberg in December, 2014

Other contributions

Besides his scientific research, Steven Weinberg has been a prominent public spokesman for science, testifying before Congress in support of the Superconducting Super Collider, writing articles for the New York Review of Books , [20] 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). [21] A hostile review [22] in the Wall Street Journal by Steven Shapin attracted a number of commentaries, [23] a response by Weinberg, [21] and an exchange of views between Weinberg and Arthur Silverstein in the NYRB in February 2016. [24]

In 2016, he became a default figurehead 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. [25]

Personal life

Weinberg married Louise Weinberg in 1954 and has one daughter, Elizabeth. [8]

Politics

Weinberg is also known for his support of Israel. He wrote an essay titled "Zionism and Its Cultural Adversaries" to explain his views on the issue. [26]

Weinberg has canceled trips to universities in the United Kingdom because of British boycotts directed towards Israel. He has 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. [27]

Views on religion

Weinberg is an atheist. [28] 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 had no doubt about 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. [29]

Honors and awards

Queen Beatrix meets Nobel laureates in 1983. Weinberg is on the queen's right. Queen Beatrix meets Nobel Laureates in 1983b.jpg
Queen Beatrix meets Nobel laureates in 1983. Weinberg is on the queen's right.

The honors and awards that Professor Weinberg received include:

Selected publications

A list of Weinberg's publications can be found on the arXiv [33] and Scopus. [34]

Bibliography: books authored / coauthored

Scholarly articles

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References

  1. 1 2 "Professor Steven Weinberg ForMemRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2015-11-12.
  2. 1 2 "Fellowship of the Royal Society 1660-2015". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on July 15, 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Steven Weinberg at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  4. "American Institute of Physics".
  5. Leslie, J, "Never-ending universe", a review in the Times Literary Supplement of Weinberg's 2015 book To explain the World.
  6. "Three Scientists Win Nobel Prize". jta.org.
  7. "Muster Mark's Quarks". Archived from the original on July 25, 2014.
  8. 1 2 3 "Steven Weinberg – Biographical". nobelprize.org. Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  9. "From BCS to the LHC - CERN Courier".
  10. 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.; 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.; Weinberg, S. (1966). "Pion Scattering Lengths". Phys. Rev. Lett. 17 (11): 616–621. Bibcode:1966PhRvL..17..616W. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.17.616.; Weinberg, S. (1965). "Infrared Photons and Gravitons". Phys. Rev. 140 (2B): B516–B524. Bibcode:1965PhRv..140..516W. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.140.B516.
  11. Weinberg, S. (1964). "Feynman Rules for Any spin". Phys. Rev. 133 (5B): B1318–B1332. Bibcode:1964PhRv..133.1318W. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.133.B1318.; 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.; 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.
  12. 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 2012-01-12.
  13. Haidt, D. (2004). "The discovery of the weak neutral currents". CERN Courier.
  14. INSPIRE-HEP: Top Cited Articles of All Time (2015 edition)
  15. Weinberg, S. (1979). "Phenomenological Lagrangians". Physica. 96: 327. Bibcode:1979PhyA...96..327W. doi:10.1016/0378-4371(79)90223-1.
  16. Donoghue, J. F. (1994). "General relativity as an effective field theory: The leading quantum corrections". Phys. Rev. D. 50 (6): 3874. arXiv: gr-qc/9405057 . Bibcode:1994PhRvD..50.3874D. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.50.3874.
  17. 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.
  18. Steven Weinberg on LHC on YouTube
  19. In 2006 Weinberg had the second highest creativity index among physicists World's most creative physicist revealed. physicsworld.com (June 17, 2006).
  20. Articles by Steven Weinberg. New York Review of Books. Nybooks.com. Retrieved on 2012-07-27.
  21. 1 2 Weinberg, Steven (2015). "Eye on the Present—The Whig History of Science". The New York Review of Books. 62 (20): 82, 84. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  22. Shapin, Stephen (13 February 2015). "Why Scientists Shouldn't Write History". wsj.com. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  23. Bouterse, Jeroen (31 May 2015). "Weinberg, Whiggism, and the World in History of Science". Shells and Pebbles. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  24. Silverstein, Arthur; Weinberg, Steven (2016). "The Whig History of Science: An Exchange". The New York Review of Books. 63 (3). Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  25. Mekelburg, Madlin (26 January 2016). "Nobel Laureate Becomes Reluctant Anti-Gun Leader, by Madlin Mekelburg". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  26. "Steven Weinberg". The Infidels. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
  27. "Nobel laureate cancels London trip due to anti-Semitism". YNet News Jewish Daily. May 24, 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-01.
  28. Weinberg, Steven (September 25, 2008). "Without God". The New York Review of Books .
  29. 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.Ibid. footnote 1.
  30. Walter, Claire (1982). Winners, the blue ribbon encyclopedia of awards. Facts on File Inc. p. 438. ISBN   9780871963864.
  31. "Weinberg awarded Oppenheimer Prize". Physics Today. American Institute of Physics. 26: 87. March 1973. Bibcode:1973PhT....26c..87.. doi:10.1063/1.3127994 . Retrieved March 1, 2015.
  32. "Benjamin Franklin Medal for Distinguished Achievement in the Sciences Recipients". American Philosophical Society . Retrieved November 26, 2011.
  33. "arXiv.org Search".
  34. Steven Weinberg's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  35. 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.