A wise, personal, and wide-ranging meditation on science and society by the Nobel Prize–winning author of To Explain the World.
For more than four decades, one of the most captivating and celebrated science communicators of our time has challenged the public to think carefully about the foundations of nature and the inseparable entanglement of science and society. In Third Thoughts Steven Weinberg casts a wide net: from the cosmological to the personal, from astronomy, quantum mechanics, and the history of science to the limitations of current knowledge, the art of discovery, and the rewards of getting things wrong.
Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics and author of the classic The First Three Minutes, Weinberg shares his views on some of the most fundamental and fascinating aspects of physics and the universe. But he does not seclude science behind disciplinary walls, or shy away from politics, taking on what he sees as the folly of manned spaceflight, the harms of inequality, and the importance of public goods. His point of view is rationalist, realist, reductionist, and devoutly secularist.
Weinberg is that great rarity, a prize-winning physicist who is entertaining and accessible. The essays in Third Thoughts, some of which appear here for the first time, will engage, provoke, and inform—and never lose sight of the human dimension of scientific discovery and its consequences for our endless drive to probe the workings of the cosmos.
Steven Weinberg won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his theory unifying two forces of nature, laying the foundation for the Standard Model of subatomic physics. His other awards include the National Medal of Science and eighteen honorary degrees. Among Weinberg’s books are the classic The First Three Minutes and To Explain the World. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books and teaches at the University of Texas.
I. Science History
1. The Uses of Astronomy
2. The Art of Discovery
3. From Rutherford to the LHC
4. Educators and Academics, Underground in Texas
5. The Rise of the Standard Models
6. Long Times and Short Times
7. Keeping an Eye on the Present—Whig History of Science
8. The Whig History of Science: An Exchange
II. Physics and Cosmology
9. What Is an Elementary Particle?
10. The Universe We Still Don’t Know
11. Varieties of Symmetry
12. The Higgs, and Beyond
13. Why the Higgs?
14. The Trouble with Quantum Mechanics
III. Public Matters
15. Obama Gets Space Funding Right
16. The Crisis of Big Science
17. Liberal Disappointment
18. Keep Loopholes Open
19. Against Manned Space Flight
20. Skeptics and Scientists
IV. Personal Matters
21. Change Course
22. Writing about Science
23. On Being Wrong
24. The Craft of Science, and the Craft of Art
25. New York to Austin, and Return