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UT Austin mourns the death of world-renowned physicist Steven Weinberg

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Austin, Texas Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin, has died. He was 88 years old.

One of the most famous scientists of his generation, Weinberg was best known for helping to develop a critical piece of the Standard Model of particle physics, which significantly advanced humanity to understand how everything in the universe, the particles, relates. its various and the forces that drive them. A faculty member for nearly four decades at UT Austin, he was a beloved teacher and researcher, revered not only by scientists who marveled at his concise and elegant theories, but also by science enthusiasts everywhere who read his books and sought him out in public appearances and lectures.

The death of Steven Weinberg is a loss for the University of Texas and for society. Professor Weinberg unraveled the mysteries of the universe for millions of people, enriching humanity’s concept of nature and our relationship with the world, said Jay Hartzell, president of the University of Texas at Austin. From his students to science enthusiasts, from astrophysicists to public decision makers, he made a tremendous difference in our understanding. In short, he changed the world.

As a world-renowned researcher and faculty member, Steven Weinberg has fascinated and inspired our UT Austin community for nearly four decades, said Sharon L. Wood, a university provocateur. His extraordinary discoveries and contributions to cosmology and elementary particles have not only strengthened UT’s position as a global leader in physics, but they have changed the world.

Weinberg held the Chair of the Jack S. Josey Welch Foundation in Science at UT Austin and was the winner of numerous scientific awards including the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics, which he shared with Abdus Salam and Sheldon Lee Glashow; a National Medal of Science in 1991; Lewis Thomas Award for Scientist as Poet in 1999; and, just last year, the breakthrough award in basic physics. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of London, the Britains Royal Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, which awarded him the Benjamin Franklin Medal in 2004.

Steven Weinberg and other Nobel Laureates meet with Queen Beatrix.
Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands welcomes Nobel laureates: Paul Berg, Christian de Duve, Steven Weinberg, Queen Beatrix, Manfred Eigen, Nicolaas Bloembergen. Photo taken August 31, 1983. Credit: Rob C. Croes / Anefo. Creative Commons License Netherlands.

In 1967, Weinberg published an essential paper outlining how two of the universes four basic electromagnetic forces and weak nuclear force are related as part of a unified electro-weak force. A Leptone Model, barely three pages long, predicted properties of elementary particles that had never been observed before (the W, Z, and Higgs bosons) and theorized that weak neutral currents dictated how elementary particles interacted with each other. . Subsequent experiments, including the 2012 discovery of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland, would yield each of his predictions.

Weinberg used his fame and his science for causes he was very interested in. He had a lifelong interest in curbing nuclear proliferation and briefly served as a consultant to the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. He advocated for a planned super-collector with LHC capabilities in the United States a project that in ultimately failed to receive funding in the 1990s as it was planned for a site near Waxahachie, Texas. He continued to be an ambassador for science throughout his life, for example, teaching UT Austin students and participating in events such as the 2021 Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative in April and in Texas Science Festival in February.

When we talk about science as part of the culture of our time, get married to make it part of that culture by explaining what they were doing, Weinberg explained in a 2015 interview published by Third Way. I think it is very important not to write for the public. You need to keep in mind that you are writing about people who are not mathematically trained but are just as smart as you.

Showing the unifying links behind weak forces and electromagnetism, which were previously believed to be completely different, Weinberg gave the first pillar of the Standard Model, the half-century-old theory that explains particles and three of the four fundamental forces in the universe (gravity the fourth is). As critical as the model is for helping physicists understand the order in which everything leads, from the first minutes after the Big Bang to the world around us, Weinberg continued to pursue, along with other scientists, the dreams of a final theory that would explained concisely and effectively unknowns to forces and particles in the universe, including gravity.

Weinberg wrote hundreds of scholarly articles on general relativity, quantum field theory, cosmology, and quantum mechanics, as well as numerous well-known articles, reviews, and books. His books include Explaining the World, The Rows of a Final Theory, Coping, and The First Three Minutes. Weinberg was often asked in media interviews to reflect on his atheism and how it related to the scientific knowledge he described in his books.

If there is no point in the universe that we discover with the methods of science, there is a point that we can give to the universe by the way we live, by loving one another, by discovering things about nature, by creating works of art, ai dikur i tha PBS. Although we are not the stars in a cosmic drama, if the only drama in which we are playing is what we are composing as we go together, it is not entirely negligible to face this unloved, personalityless universe, we make a small island of warmth and love and science and art for ourselves.

Weinberg was a native of New York, and his childhood love of science began with a gift of chemistry and continued through self-taught teaching while a student at the Bronx High School of Science. The first in his family to attend college, he received a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a doctorate from Princeton University. He researched at Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley, before serving on the faculty of Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and, since 1982, UT Austin.

He is survived by his wife, UT Austin law professor Louise Weinberg, and their daughter, Elizabeth.

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