Lake Views: This World and the Universe

Lake Views: This World and the Universe

by Steven Weinberg

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674062306
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 11/30/2011
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 928,460
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(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.

What People are Saying About This

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.

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.

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.
Lawrence M. Krauss, Foundation Professor and Director of the Origins Initiative at Arizona State University, and the author of The Physics of Star Trek, and most recently, Hiding in the Mirror, the Mysterious Allure of Extra Dimensions.

Ken Ford

An excellent collection from an extraordinary physicist. Weinberg is a deep thinker and a graceful writer.
Ken Ford, author of The Quantum World: Quantum Physics for Everyone

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.
John S. Rigden, author of Einstein 1905

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Lake Views: This World and the Universe 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
ElectricRay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"I do not think we have to worry that giving up religion will lead to a moral decline," opines physicist Steven Weinberg on the penultimate page of this collection of essays. "There are plenty of people without religious faith who live exemplary moral lives (as for example, me)." Even if you do say so yourself. Weinberg at once sums up his attitude to the subjects he canvasses and identifies why few (other than the already-persuaded) will find much of interest in this mediocre book: Weinberg believes his arguments go without saying, and only the dim or the mendacious would quarrel with them. It rather makes you wonder which he thinks his target audience is. Essay collections are often lacklustre affairs: disjointed, disconnected, duplicative and lazy: little editorial, let alone authorial, work is needed to compile material that's already been published, after all. This collection, especially so. The subjects are eclectic, but clumped: the quest for a final theory in elementary physics gets about four airings; why missile defence is a bad idea gets three; why manned space flight is an inferior use of public money than a particle accelerator (now fancy hearing a particle physicist say that!) gets a couple, and the collection is rounded out with a couple on Judaism and Israel, and a couple about the non-existence of God. (Yes, quite: I thought that jarred a bit, too). The collection's organising principle is no more inspiring than that they were all written in Weinberg's home study, overlooking a lake. Except, he tells us, it isn't actually a lake. Weinberg has an unshakeable conviction in the rectitude of his own research programme. This informs his view of the topics he canvasses and affords him licence to gloss over the many objections to his point of view. I had trouble with all that glossing. For example I couldn't see why it was a good use of tax money to sink 10 billion into a particle accelerator (super cooling 25 kilometres of electro magnets to absolute zero can't be cheap) in the hope of credentialising a theory which, as stated by Weinberg, is unfalsifiable and plainly in crisis. (On the other hand, putting a man on mars would at least give David Bowie and excuse to re-release his back catalogue (not, of course, that he needs one). Lest you think I'm being flippant, I'm not: the standard model of modern particle physics fails to account for gravity unless there are 11 space-time dimensions, seven of which are so tiny as to be undetectable (they need to be this small because there is utterly, butterly, no evidence of any kind for them), and/or a "Multiverse": an infinite realm of other universes which we cannot (by definition) see or experience (also so required because there's no evidence for them). Similarly, modern cosmology fails unless vacuum space contains undetected, unseen anti-gravitational force which can explain the fact that the universe is not just expanding, but the expansion is accelerating. These are not trivial problems. They're barnstormers. Modern physics, that is to say, has many of the hallmarks of a research programme deeply in crisis. I'm not the only one to say this - astrophysicists such as Peter Woit and Lee Smolin have published compelling books on the topic in the last decade. So it is an odd chair from which to find a practitioner making lofty declarations. Even Weinberg concedes that the outlook for convergence to one final theory is considerably less certain now than it was when he wrote it. Kind of makes you wonder why he didn't trouble to update (or just omit) the offending article. All this hubris could be forgiven if there were insightful content elsewhere, but there isn't much. Weinberg includes an essay about the history of military technology (intended as yet another assault on the missile defence issue). This is about as close as Weinberg gets to having anything new to say. But even this (largely concerned with whether the stirrup - which permitted a horseman to charge with a "co
carterchristian1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I agree with ElectricRay. Weinberg seems to have had a bunch of unrelated papers that he had had published or not published in a variety of places and a publisher agreed to make of book of them. However, the author was involved with decision makers in the nuclear war potential for many years and these essays with background information are worth reading. I will keep it for the moment