Steven Weinberg was born in 1933 in New York City. His parents were Jewish immigrants; his father, Frederick, worked as a court stenographer, while his mother, Eva (Israel), was a housewife. Becoming interested in science at age 16 through a chemistry set handed down by a cousin, he graduated from Bronx High School of Science in 1950. He was in the same graduating class as Sheldon Glashow, whose research, independent of Weinberg's, resulted in their (and Abdus Salam's) sharing the 1979 Nobel in physics.
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), 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: both 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 (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.
After his 1967 seminal work on the unification of weak and electromagnetic interactions, Weinberg continued his work in many aspects of particle physics, quantum field theory, gravity, supersymmetry, superstrings and cosmology. 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, Salam and 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 that did not contain that model's fundamental Higgs boson. Also during the 1970s, he proposed a theory later known as technicolor, in which new strong interactions resolve the hierarchy problem.
Weinberg became Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics at Harvard University in 1973, a post he held until 1983. In 1979 he pioneered the modern view on the renormalization aspect of quantum field theory that considers all quantum field theories 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. This approach allowed the development of effective theory of quantum gravity, low energy QCD, heavy quark effective field theory and other developments, and 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 after 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 with Glashow and 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 started a theoretical physics group at the university that now has eight full professors and is one of the leading research groups in the field in the U.S.
Weinberg is frequently listed among the top scientists with the highest research effect indices, such as the h-index and the creativity index. The theoretical physicist Peter Woit called Weinberg "arguably the dominant figure in theoretical particle physics during its period of great success from the late sixties to the early eighties", calling his contribution to electroweak unification "to this day at the center of the Standard Model, our best understanding of fundamental physics". Science News named him along with fellow theorists Murray Gell-Mann and Richard Feynman the leading physicists of the era, commenting, "Among his peers, Weinberg was one of the most respected figures in all of physics or perhaps all of science".Sean Carroll called Weinberg one of the “best physicists we had; one of the best thinkers of any variety” who “exhibited extraordinary verve and clarity of thought through the whole stretch of a long and productive life”, while John Preskill called him "one of the most accomplished scientists of our age, and a particularly eloquent spokesperson for the scientific worldview".Brian Greene said that Weinberg had an “astounding ability to see into the deep workings of nature” that “profoundly shaped our understanding of the universe". Upon the awarding of the Breakthrough Prize in 2020, one of the founders of the prizes, Yuri Milner, called Weinberg a “key architect” of “one of the most successful physical theories ever”, while string theoristJuan Maldacena, the chair of the selection committee, said, “Steven Weinberg has developed many of the key theoretical tools that we use for the description of nature at a fundamental level".
Although still teaching physics, in later years he turned his hand to the history of science, efforts that culminated in To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science (2015). A hostile review in the Wall Street Journal by Steven Shapin attracted a number of commentaries, a response by Weinberg, and an exchange of views between Weinberg and Arthur Silverstein in the NYRB in February 2016.
In 2016, Weinberg became a default leader for faculty and students opposed to a new law allowing the carrying of concealed guns in UT classrooms. He announced that he would prohibit guns in his classes, and said he would stand by his decision to violate university regulations in this matter even if faced with a lawsuit. Weinberg never retired and taught at UT until his death.
Weinberg was an atheist. Before he was an advocate of the Big Bang theory, Weinberg stated: "The steady-state theory is philosophically the most attractive theory because it least resembles the account given in Genesis."
Views on Israeledit
Weinberg was known for his support of Israel, which he characterized as "the 'most exposed salient' in a war between liberal democracies and Muslim theocracies." He wrote the 1997 essay "Zionism and Its Adversaries" on the issue.
In the 2000s, Weinberg canceled trips to universities in the United Kingdom because of the British boycotts of 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."
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, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-67053-5, ISBN 0-521-67054-3, ISBN 0-521-66000-9)
Facing Up: Science and Its Cultural Adversaries (2001, 2003, HUP)
Glory and Terror: The Coming Nuclear Danger (2004, NYRB)
Lectures on Astrophysics (2019, CUP, ISBN 978-1-108-41507-1)
Foundations of Modern Physics (2021, CUP, ISBN 978-1-108-84176-4)
Weinberg, Steven (November 20, 1967). "A Model of Leptons". Physical Review Letters. American Physical Society (APS). 19 (21): 1264–1266. Bibcode:1967PhRvL..19.1264W. doi:10.1103/physrevlett.19.1264. ISSN 0031-9007.
Feinberg, G.; Weinberg, S. (April 1, 1961). "Law of Conservation of Muons". Physical Review Letters. American Physical Society (APS). 6 (7): 381–383. Bibcode:1961PhRvL...6..381F. doi:10.1103/physrevlett.6.381. ISSN 0031-9007.
Pais, Abraham; Weinberg, Steven; Quigg, Chris; Riordan, Michael; Panofsky, Wolfgang K.H.; Trimble, Virginia (April 1, 1997). 100 years of elementary particles [Beam Line, vol. 27, issue 1, Spring 1997] (Report). Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI). doi:10.2172/790903.
Weinberg, S (2010). "Pions in Large N Quantum Chromodynamics". Phys. Rev. Lett. 105 (26): 261601. arXiv:1009.1537. Bibcode:2010PhRvL.105z1601W. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.105.261601. PMID 21231642. S2CID 46210811.
Weinberg, S (2012). "Collapse of the State Vector". Phys. Rev. A. 85 (6): 062116. arXiv:1109.6462. Bibcode:2012PhRvA..85f2116W. doi:10.1103/physreva.85.062116. S2CID 119273840.
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.
^Weinberg, Steven (June 16, 1957). The role of strong interactions in decay processes – via catalog.princeton.edu.
^"From BCS to the LHC – CERN Courier". January 21, 2008.
^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.
^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.
^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.
^Haidt, D. (2004). "The discovery of the weak neutral currents". CERN Courier.
^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.
^Weinberg, S.; Susskind, L. (1979). "Implications of dynamical symmetry breaking: An addendum". Physical Review. D19 (4): 1277–1280. Bibcode:1979PhRvD..19.1277W. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.19.1277.
^Susskind, Leonard (1979). "Dynamics of spontaneous symmetry breaking in the Weinberg-Salam theory". Physical Review. D20 (10): 2619–2625. Bibcode:1979PhRvD..20.2619S. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.20.2619. OSTI 1446928. S2CID 17294645.
^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.
^Hartmann, Stephan. "Effective Field Theories, Reductionism and Scientific Explanation" (PDF). Retrieved July 26, 2021.
^Charles Y. Prescott (June 30, 1978). Parity violation in inelastic scattering of polarized electrons(PDF). Sixth Trieste Conference on Particle Physics. AIP Conference Proceedings. Vol. 51. Trieste, Italy: American Institute of Physics. p. 202. doi:10.1063/1.31766.
^In 2006 Weinberg had the second-highest creativity index among physicists World's most creative physicist revealed. physicsworld.com (June 17, 2006).
^Woit, Peter (July 24, 2021). "Steven Weinberg 1933–2021". Retrieved July 25, 2021.
^Siegfried, Tom (July 24, 2021). "With Steven Weinberg's death, physics loses a titan". Retrieved July 26, 2021.
^ abcBanks, Michael (July 26, 2021). "US Nobel-prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg dies aged 88". Retrieved July 26, 2021.
^Mekelburg, Madlin (September 11, 2020). "UT's Steven Weinberg wins $3M Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
^Articles by Steven Weinberg. The New York Review of Books. Nybooks.com. Retrieved on July 27, 2012.
^ abWeinberg, 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.
^Shapin, Stephen (February 13, 2015). "Why Scientists Shouldn't Write History". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 11, 2016.
^Bouterse, Jeroen (May 31, 2015). "Weinberg, Whiggism, and the World in History of Science". Shells and Pebbles. Retrieved February 11, 2016.
^Silverstein, Arthur; Weinberg, Steven (2016). "The Whig History of Science: An Exchange". The New York Review of Books. 63 (3). Retrieved February 11, 2016.
^Mekelburg, Madlin (January 26, 2016). "Nobel Laureate Becomes Reluctant Anti-Gun Leader, by Madlin Mekelburg". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved February 9, 2016.