Weinberg, Steven

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WEINBERG, STEVEN (1933– ), U.S. physicist and Nobel Laureate in physics. Born in New York, Weinberg graduated A.B. from Cornell University (1954) and studied at Copenhagen Institute for Theoretical Physics before receiving his Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University (1957) under the direction of Sam Treiman. After appointments at Columbia University (1957–59) and the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory, Livermore, California (1959–60), he was successively professor of physics at the University of California at Berkeley (1959–69) and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1969–73). He was Higgins Professor of Physics at Harvard University and Senior Scientist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (1973–83) before moving to the University of Texas at Austin as Jack S. Josey – Welch Foundation Professor, Regental Professor of Science, and founding director of the Theory Group in the College of Natural Sciences. His research concerns the interactions between strong electromagnetic force and the weak forces which allow beta decays of the nucleus, and hence radioactivity. Neutrinos and, to a lesser extent, electrons account for these interactions. Weinberg's theoretical concept of these processes has been largely validated experimentally. This field has fundamental implications for understanding the formation of complex inorganic and biological molecules from elements formed in the evolution of the universe, with the ultimate objective of explaining the physical basis of matter throughout the universe. He was awarded the Nobel Prize (1979) jointly with Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashow. His many honors include membership in the U.S. Academy of Sciences (1972), the jr Oppenheimer Prize (1973), foreign membership in the Royal Society of London (1982), the U.S. National Medal of Science (1991), and the Benjamin Franklin Medal of the American Philosophical Society (2004). He was visiting professor at the Weizmann Institute (1985). Among his many national and international commitments to scientific education and planning, he was director of the Jerusalem Winter School of Theoretical Physics from 1983. Weinberg was also active in teaching and writing on the social and philosophical implications of modern science. He served as consultant for the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. His books for general readers include The First Three Minutes: a Modern View of the Origin of the Universe (1977), Elementary Particles and the Laws of Physics (with R.P. Feynman) (1987), Dreams of a Final Theory (1993), Facing UpScience and Its Cultural Adversaries (2001), and Glory and Terrorthe Growing Nuclear Danger (2004). His contributions to the field of scientific writing have been recognized by his receipt of the American Institute of Physics and U.S. Steel Foundation Science Writing Award (1977) and the Lewis Thomas Prize honoring the scientist as poet (1999).

[Michael Denman (2nd ed.)]