ISBN-10:
0674011201
ISBN-13:
9780674011205
Pub. Date:
04/30/2003
Publisher:
Harvard
Facing Up: Science and Its Cultural Adversaries

Facing Up: Science and Its Cultural Adversaries

by Steven Weinberg

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Overview

The New York Times’s James Glanz has called Steven Weinberg “perhaps the world’s most authoritative proponent of the idea that physics is hurtling toward a ‘final theory,’ a complete explanation of nature’s particles and forces that will endure as the bedrock of all science forevermore. He is also a powerful writer of prose that can illuminate—and sting… He recently received the Lewis Thomas Prize, awarded to the researcher who best embodies ‘the scientist as poet.’” Both the brilliant scientist and the provocative writer are fully present in this book as Weinberg pursues his principal passions, theoretical physics and a deeper understanding of the culture, philosophy, history, and politics of science.
Each of these essays, which span fifteen years, struggles in one way or another with the necessity of facing up to the discovery that the laws of nature are impersonal, with no hint of a special status for human beings. Defending the spirit of science against its cultural adversaries, these essays express a viewpoint that is reductionist, realist, and devoutly secular. Each is preceded by a new introduction that explains its provenance and, if necessary, brings it up to date. Together, they afford the general reader the unique pleasure of experiencing the superb sense, understanding, and knowledge of one of the most interesting and forceful scientific minds of our era.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674011205
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 04/30/2003
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 306
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

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.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • 1. Science as a Liberal Art
  • 2. Newtonianism, Reductionism, and the Art of Congressional Testimony
  • 3. Newton’s Dream
  • 4. Confronting O’Brien
  • 5. The Heritage of Galileo
  • 6. Nature Itself
  • 7. The Boundaries of Scientific Knowledge
  • 8. The Methods of Science…and Those by Which We Live
  • 9. Night Thoughts of a Quantum Physicist
  • 10. Reductionism Redux
  • 11. Physics and History
  • 12. Sokal’s Hoax
  • 13. Science and Sokal’s Hoax: An Exchange
  • 14. Before the Big Bang
  • 15. Zionism and Its Adversaries
  • 16. The Red Camaro
  • 17. The Non-Revolution of Thomas Kuhn
  • 18. T.S. Kuhn’s Non-Revolution: An Exchange
  • 19. The Great Reduction: Physics in the Twentieth Century
  • 20. A Designer Universe?
  • 21. “A Designer Universe?”: An Exchange
  • 22. Five and a Half Utopias
  • 23. Looking for Peace in the Science Wars
  • Sources
  • Index

What People are Saying About This

In this wonderful and compelling collection of essays, Steven Weinberg--one of the greatest and most influential of physicists--convincingly argues that the more we discover about the laws governing the cosmos, the less it seems that we have any special status or role to play. While Weinberg may well be right regarding the absence of a divine plan for human beings, you cannot help leaving these finely written essays feeling uplifted by the boundless curiosity and ingenuity of the human spirit.

Brian Greene

In this wonderful and compelling collection of essays, Steven Weinberg--one of the greatest and most influential of physicists--convincingly argues that the more we discover about the laws governing the cosmos, the less it seems that we have any special status or role to play. While Weinberg may well be right regarding the absence of a divine plan for human beings, you cannot help leaving these finely written essays feeling uplifted by the boundless curiosity and ingenuity of the human spirit.
Brian Greene, author of The Elegant Universe

Eric J. Chaisson

Steven Weinberg is a national treasure. Not only is he one of America's greatest physicists, he is also a delightful essayist as well. In Facing Up, he addresses the issues of objectivity, reductionism, and the nature of science in rightful ways sure to outrage postmodernists.
Eric J. Chaisson, author of Cosmic Evolution

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