Steven Weinberg

Steven Weinberg, Physicist, NYC


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Steven Weinberg

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Steven Weinberg (born May 3, 1933) is an American physicist. He was awarded the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics (with colleagues Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashow) for combining electromagnetism and the weak force into the electroweak force

Steven Weinberg was born in 1933 in New York City, son of Frederick and Eva Weinberg.

He graduated from Bronx High School of Science in 1950 and received his bachelor's degree from Cornell University in 1954, living at the Cornell branch of Telluride Association. He left Cornell and went to the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhague where he started his graduate studies and research. After one year, Weinberg returned to Princeton University where he earned his Ph.D. in Physics in 1957, studying under Sam Treiman.

Academic Career

After completing his Ph.D., Weinberg worked as a professor at Columbia University (1957-1959) and UC-Berkeley (1959-1966) and 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 specially the second, 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 visiting professor at MIT. It was in that year at MIT that Weinberg proposed his model of unification of nuclear weak forces and electromagnetism. An important feature of this model is the prediction of the existence of another interaction, besides electromagnetic, between leptons, known as neutral current. This proposal is now known as the Standard Model of elementary particle physics and is the highest cited theoretical work ever in high energy physics as of 2007. The Standard Model is the best description of Nature at scales from about few GeV to about 200 GeV.

After the 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. It is of special importance that 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 completely the viewpoint of previous work (including his own) 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 it is a topic of considerable interest in current research. Of a more speculative nature, it is also of present interest his idea on the existence of new strong interactions -- a proposal dubbed Technicolor (physics) by Leonard Susskind -- because of its chance of being observed in the LHC as an explanation of the hierarchy problem.

After the discovery of the neutral currents -- i.e. the discovery of the existence of the Z boson --, Steven Weinberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979.

Weinberg became Higgins Professor of Physics at Harvard University in 1973, a position he held until 1982 when he moved to the University of Texas at Austin and founded the Theory Group of the Physics Department.

His influence and importance in science can be somewhat gauged by the fact that Prof Weinberg is often among the top scientists with highest research impact indices, such as the h-index and the creativity index.

He is married to Louise Weinberg and has one daughter, Elizabeth.



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