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 (age 84)
New York City
Residence Austin, Texas
Nationality American
Alma mater
Known for
Spouse(s) Louise Weinberg (m. 1954)
Children 1 : Elizabeth Weinberg
Scientific career
Fields Theoretical Physics
Thesis The role of strong interactions in decay processes (1957)
Doctoral advisor Sam Treiman[3]
Doctoral students
Influenced Alan Guth[citation needed]

Steven Weinberg (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.[7]

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.

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.[8][9]

Education and early life

Steven Weinberg was born in 1933 in New York City. His parents were immigrants.[10] He graduated from Bronx High School of Science in 1950.[11] 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).

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]

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. Both textbooks are among the most influential texts in the scientific community in their subjects.

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),[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, 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[20] – a proposal dubbed "Technicolor" by Leonard Susskind – because of its chance of being observed in the LHC as an explanation of the hierarchy problem.[21]

Steven Weinberg is frequently among the top scientists with highest research effect indices, such as the h-index and the creativity index.[22]

Physics Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg, 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,[23] 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).[24] A hostile review[25] in the Wall Street Journal by Steven Shapin attracted a number of commentaries,[26] a response by Weinberg,[24] and an exchange of views between Weinberg and Arthur Silverstein in the NYRB in February 2016.[27]

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.[28]

Personal life

Weinberg married Louise Weinberg in 1954 and has one daughter, Elizabeth.[11]


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.[29]

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.[30]

Views on religion

Weinberg is an atheist.[31] 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.[32]

Honors and awards

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[36] and Scopus.[37]

Bibliography: books authored / coauthored

  • Gravitation and Cosmology: Principles and Applications of the General Theory of Relativity (1972)
  • The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe (1977, updated with new afterword in 1993, ISBN 0-465-02437-8)
  • The Discovery of Subatomic Particles (1983)
  • Elementary Particles and the Laws of Physics: The 1986 Dirac Memorial Lectures (1987; with Richard Feynman)
  • Dreams of a Final Theory: The Search for the Fundamental Laws of Nature (1993), ISBN 0-09-922391-0
  • The Quantum Theory of Fields (three volumes: I Foundations 1995, II Modern Applications 1996, III Supersymmetry 2000,[38] Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521670535, ISBN 0521670543, ISBN 0521660009)
  • Facing Up: Science and Its Cultural Adversaries (2001, 2003, HUP)
  • Glory and Terror: The Coming Nuclear Danger (2004, NYRB)
  • Cosmology (2008, OUP)
  • Lake Views: This World and the Universe (2010), Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-03515-1.
  • Lectures on quantum mechanics (2012, CUP)
  • To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science (2015), Harper/HarperCollins Publishers, ISBN 978-0062346650

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 for the provision of adequate education, healthcare, transportation and communication infrastructure, and criminal justice and law enforcement.


  1. ^ a b "Professor Steven Weinberg ForMemRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2015-11-12. 
  2. ^ a b "Fellowship of the Royal Society 1660-2015". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2015-07-15. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Steven Weinberg at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  4. ^ "Orlando Alvarez CV". 
  5. ^ "Claude Bernard - Department of Physics". 
  6. ^ "Dr. Raphael M. Flauger joins Department of Physics". 
  7. ^ "Steven Weinberg, Weak Interactions, and Electromagnetic Interactions". 
  8. ^ "American Institute of Physics". 
  9. ^ Leslie, J, "Never-ending universe", a review in the Times Literary Supplement of Weinberg's 2015 book To explain the World.
  10. ^ "Muster Mark’s Quarks". 
  11. ^ a b c "Steven Weinberg – Biographical". Retrieved 25 January 2016. 
  12. ^ "From BCS to the LHC - CERN Courier". 
  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. ; 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. 
  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. ; 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. 
  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. 
  16. ^ Haidt, D. (2004). "The discovery of the weak neutral currents". CERN Courier. [1]
  17. ^ INSPIRE-HEP: Top Cited Articles of All Time (2015 edition)
  18. ^ Weinberg, S. (1979). "Phenomenological Lagrangians". Physica. 96: 327. Bibcode:1979PhyA...96..327W. doi:10.1016/0378-4371(79)90223-1. 
  19. ^ Donoghue, J. F. (1994). "General relativity as an effective field theory: The leading quantum corrections". Phys. Rev. D. 50 (6): 3874. Bibcode:1994PhRvD..50.3874D. arXiv:gr-qc/9405057Freely accessible. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.50.3874. 
  20. ^ 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. 
  21. ^ Steven Weinberg on LHC on YouTube
  22. ^ In 2006 Weinberg had the second highest creativity index among physicists World's most creative physicist revealed. (June 17, 2006).
  23. ^ Articles by Steven Weinberg. New York Review of Books. Retrieved on 2012-07-27.
  24. ^ a b 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. 
  25. ^ Shapin, Stephen (13 February 2015). "Why Scientists Shouldn't Write History". Retrieved 11 February 2016. 
  26. ^ Bouterse, Jeroen (31 May 2015). "Weinberg, Whiggism, and the World in History of Science". Shells and Pebbles. Retrieved 11 February 2016. 
  27. ^ Silverstein, Arthur; Weinberg, Steven (2016). "The Whig History of Science: An Exchange". The New York Review of Books. 63 (3). Retrieved 11 February 2016. 
  28. ^ Mekelburg, Madlin (26 January 2016). "Nobel Laureate Becomes Reluctant Anti-Gun Leader, by Madlin Mekelburg". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved 9 February 2016. 
  29. ^ "Steven Weinberg". The Infidels. Retrieved June 6, 2017. 
  30. ^ "Nobel laureate cancels London trip due to anti-Semitism". YNet News Jewish Daily. May 24, 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  31. ^ Weinberg, Steven (September 25, 2008). "Without God". The New York Review of Books. 
  32. ^ 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.
  33. ^ Walter, Claire (1982). Winners, the blue ribbon encyclopedia of awards. Facts on File Inc. p. 438. ISBN 9780871963864. 
  34. ^ "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. 
  35. ^ "Benjamin Franklin Medal for Distinguished Achievement in the Sciences Recipients". American Philosophical Society. Retrieved November 26, 2011. 
  36. ^ " Search". 
  37. ^ Steven Weinberg's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database, a service provided by Elsevier. (subscription required)
  38. ^ 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. 

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