Lake Views: This World and the Universe

Overview

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.”

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Lake Views: This World and the Universe

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Richard Dawkins
It would be putting it mildly to say that Weinberg triumphantly lives up to what it says on the Nobel tin: a true intellectual as well as a brilliant theoretical physicist.
Ken Ford
An excellent collection from an extraordinary physicist. Weinberg is a deep thinker and a graceful writer.
John S. Rigden
This is a great collection of essays. Steven Weinberg is one of the greatest contemporary physicists. He is also a scholar in a broad sense, a good scholar. Add to this, he writes well.
Lawrence M. Krauss
Steven Weinberg is one of the most highly accomplished and respected scientists in the world. But even among this elite group he holds a unique position as a scientist-scholar and a writer of unparalleled clarity. He has become a role model for the rest of us who attempt to communicate to the broader public. As this second collection of fascinating essays makes manifest, no one writing on matters of science or of science and society has more wisdom to impart, nor can they impart it better than Weinberg. Scientists and lay people alike will find this remarkable collection both thought provoking and thoroughly engaging.
Dallas Morning News - Alexandra Witze
Many of the themes in Weinberg's work remain timeless. He is in his element at the interface between science and philosophy, such as musing what will happen when science reaches a "final theory" that explains all knowable phenomena. The answer? Well, it involves an extended riff including both nuclear-particle decay and Shakespeare, but Weinberg brilliantly illuminates why he thinks humanity can still find purpose in studying the universe through scientific methods...Weinberg can, within several eloquent pages, distill the essence of why science is important...Unlike nearly any writer living today, Weinberg interpolates science, philosophy and history into a rich and meaningful tapestry of our world.
Times Higher Education - Graham Farmelo
Of all top-class theoretical physicists no one, apart from Freeman Dyson, writes with the same combination of authority and grace...The overwhelming impression one has when reading Weinberg is that we are seeing the world through the eyes of someone who not only loves physics but regards the physicist's way of looking at the world as uniquely valuable...All physicists will take pleasure from this book. Many others will enjoy it, too...Dawkins' admirers [should] read Weinberg if they are in the least bit curious about modern physics and how a great physicist thinks about science policy. Lake Views is an excellent place to start.
New Scientist - Dan Falk
This collection of essays proves once again that Weinberg is more than just a top--tier physicist. He is also one of the few scientists brave enough--and knowledgeable enough--to successfully take on the role of public intellectual...It's essential reading.
New York Review of Books - Freeman Dyson
Steven Weinberg is famous as a scientist, but he thinks deeply and writes elegantly about many other things besides science. This collection of his writings is concerned with history, politics, and science in roughly equal measure.
Publishers Weekly
Weinberg, a co-recipient of the 1979 Nobel Prize for physics, is well known for his articulate essays on many subjects. In this collection, he aims his laser gaze primarily on three areas: science, Israel and religion. Weinberg has been on the realist side of the science wars (asserting that science explains, rather than merely describes, the world), and he revisits that battlefield here. He also ventures into science and politics, expressing skepticism about the need for a missile defense system. Elsewhere he argues against manned exploration of space, saying that probes and robots will always be faster, better, cheaper and certainly safer. Weinberg, long known for his support of Israel, comes out with guns blazing against British academics who organized a short-term boycott of Israeli academic institutions. In the last essay, “Without God,” Weinberg expresses his atheism without the shrillness of a Dawkins or a Hitchens. These essays started out as dinner speeches, book reviews (some from the New York Review of Books) and other occasional pieces that feel slight (such as a pep talk to postdocs). Nevertheless, Weinberg fans will find nuggets of insight and wisdom. (Jan.)
Dallas Morning News

Many of the themes in Weinberg's work remain timeless. He is in his element at the interface between science and philosophy, such as musing what will happen when science reaches a "final theory" that explains all knowable phenomena. The answer? Well, it involves an extended riff including both nuclear-particle decay and Shakespeare, but Weinberg brilliantly illuminates why he thinks humanity can still find purpose in studying the universe through scientific methods...Weinberg can, within several eloquent pages, distill the essence of why science is important...Unlike nearly any writer living today, Weinberg interpolates science, philosophy and history into a rich and meaningful tapestry of our world.
— Alexandra Witze

Times Higher Education

Of all top-class theoretical physicists no one, apart from Freeman Dyson, writes with the same combination of authority and grace...The overwhelming impression one has when reading Weinberg is that we are seeing the world through the eyes of someone who not only loves physics but regards the physicist's way of looking at the world as uniquely valuable...All physicists will take pleasure from this book. Many others will enjoy it, too...Dawkins' admirers [should] read Weinberg if they are in the least bit curious about modern physics and how a great physicist thinks about science policy. Lake Views is an excellent place to start.
— Graham Farmelo

New Scientist

This collection of essays proves once again that Weinberg is more than just a top—tier physicist. He is also one of the few scientists brave enough—and knowledgeable enough—to successfully take on the role of public intellectual...It's essential reading.
— Dan Falk

New York Review of Books

Steven Weinberg is famous as a scientist, but he thinks deeply and writes elegantly about many other things besides science. This collection of his writings is concerned with history, politics, and science in roughly equal measure.
— Freeman Dyson

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674035157
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/15/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 259
  • Sales rank: 1,405,650
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven Weinberg is Josey-Welch Foundation Chair in Science and Regental Professor at the University of Texas, Austin, and is the author of many books. He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979 and the National Medal of Science in 1991.
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Table of Contents

1 Waiting for a Final Theory 1

2 Can Science Explain Everything? Anything? 6

3 Peace at Last in the Science Wars 24

4 The Future of Science, and the Universe 28

5 Dark Energy 47

6 How Great Equations Survive 52

7 On Missile Defense 59

8 The Growing Nuclear Danger 80

9 Is the Universe a Computer? 96

10 Foreword to A Century of Nature 113

11 Ambling toward Apocalypse 116

12 What Price Glory? 123

13 Four Golden Lessons 146

14 The Wrong Stuff 150

15 A Turning Point? 168

16 About Oppenheimer 172

17 Einstein's Search for Unification 178

18 Einstein's Mistakes 186

19 Living in the Multiverse 196

20 Against the Boycott 205

21 A Deadly Certitude 210

22 To the Postdocs 218

23 Science or Spacemen 222

24 Israel and the Liberals 226

25 Without God 229

Sources 247

Index 251

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