Lake Views: This World and the Universe

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Harvard University Press, Jul 30, 2012 - Science - 272 pages

Just as Henry David Thoreau “traveled a great deal in Concord,” Nobel Prize–winning physicist Steven Weinberg sees much of the world from the window of his study overlooking Lake Austin. In Lake Views Weinberg, considered by many to be the preeminent theoretical physicist alive today, continues the wide-ranging reflections that have also earned him a reputation as, in the words of New York Times reporter James Glanz, “a powerful writer of prose that can illuminate—and sting.”

This collection presents Weinberg’s views on topics ranging from problems of cosmology to assorted world issues—military, political, and religious. Even as he moves beyond the bounds of science, each essay reflects his experience as a theoretical physicist. And as in the celebrated Facing Up, the essays express a viewpoint that is rationalist, reductionist, realist, and secular. A new introduction precedes each essay, explaining how it came to be written and bringing it up to date where necessary.

As an essayist, Weinberg insists on seeing things as they are, without despair and with good humor. Sure to provoke his readers—postmodern cultural critics, enthusiasts for manned space flight or missile defense, economic conservatives, sociologists of science, anti-Zionists, and religious zealots—this book nonetheless offers the pleasure of a sustained encounter with one of the most interesting scientific minds of our time.

 

Contents

Waiting for a Final Theory
1
Can Science Explain Everything? Anything?
6
Peace at Last in the Science Wars
24
The Future of Science and the Universe
28
Dark Energy
47
How Great Equations Survive
52
On Missile Defense
59
The Growing Nuclear Danger
80
Four Golden Lessons
146
The Wrong Stuff
150
A Turning Point?
168
About Oppenheimer
172
Einsteins Search for Unification
178
Einsteins Mistakes
186
Living in the Multiverse
196
A Deadly Certitude
210

Is the Universe a Computer?
96
Foreword to A Century of Nature
113
Ambling toward Apocalypse
116
What Price Glory?
123
Israel and the Liberals
226
Sources
247
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About the author (2012)

Born in New York City, Steven Weinberg was a high school and college classmate of Sheldon Glashow; both attended the Bronx High School of Science and Cornell University. Although Weinberg has made contributions as a theoretical physicist in cosmology, quantum scattering, and the quantum theory of gravitation, he is most widely known for his work with Sheldon Glashow and Abdus Salam, with whom he shared the 1979 Nobel Prize in physics. Weinberg received a share of this honor for his formulation of the theory that unifies the relationship between the weak force and the electromagnetic force, including the capability to predict the weak neutral current. After receiving a Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1957, Weinberg held postdoctoral positions at Columbia University from 1957 to 1959, the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory from 1959 to 1960, the University of California at Berkeley from 1960 to 1966, Harvard University from 1966 to 1967, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1967 to 1969. He is married to a law professor, and they have one daughter.

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