<< Back

Steven Weinberg

Steven Weinberg

Steven Weinberg is one of the most influential living physicists, who won the Nobel Prize in 1979 for his contributions to the unification of the weak force and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles. He is also one of the most respected public spokesmen for science, having written a number of authoritative books on wide-ranging scientific subjects.

Prof. Weinberg was born in 1933 in New York City. He received his bachelor's degree from Cornell University in 1954. He also went to the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen where he started his graduate studies and research. After one year, Weinberg returned to Princeton University where he earned his Ph.D. degree in Physics in 1957, studying under Sam Treiman. Having completed his Ph.D., Weinberg worked as a post-doc researcher at Columbia University (1957-1959) and University of California, Berkeley (1959) where he soon assumed faculty position. He did research in a variety of topics of particle physics, such as the high energy behavior of quantum field theory, symmetry breaking, pion scattering, infrared photons and quantum gravity. 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 and started to write his textbook Gravitation and Cosmology. Both textbooks, perhaps especially the second, are among the most influential texts in the scientific community in their subjects.

* * *

Esquisse (for violin and piano) is a composition that was dedicated to Steven Weinberg, as part of Edward Manukyan's Musical Tribute to Scientists project.

Quotes by Steven Weinberg

“The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things that lifts human life a little above the level of farce, and gives it some of the grace of tragedy.”

The cover of Steven Weinbergs's recent book, "Facing Up."

(Below is an excerpt from Weinberg's article, "A Designer Universe?")

"The universe is very large, and perhaps infinite, so it should be no surprise that, among the enormous number of planets that may support only unintelligent life and the still vaster number that cannot support life at all, there is some tiny fraction on which there are living beings who are capable of thinking about the universe, as we are doing here. A journalist who has been assigned to interview lottery winners may come to feel that some special providence has been at work on their behalf, but he should keep in mind the much larger number of lottery players whom he is not interviewing because they haven't won anything. Thus, to judge whether our lives show evidence for a benevolent designer, we have not only to ask whether life is better than would be expected in any case from what we know about natural selection, but we need also to take into account the bias introduced by the fact that it is we who are thinking about the problem.

This is a question that you all will have to answer for yourselves. Being a physicist is no help with questions like this, so I have to speak from my own experience. My life has been remarkably happy, perhaps in the upper 99.99 percentile of human happiness, but even so, I have seen a mother die painfully of cancer, a father's personality destroyed by Alzheimer's disease, and scores of second and third cousins murdered in the Holocaust. Signs of a benevolent designer are pretty well hidden."

Steven Weinberg's recent book, "Facing Up: Science and its Cultural Adversaries" and it is available from this link.

© 2005-2009 Edward Manukyan. All rights reserved.