Saturday , September 25 2021

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg dies at 88



Physicist Steven Weinberg, who won the Nobel Prize in 1979 with two other scientists for their separate contributions that unravel mysteries of small particles and their electromagnetic interaction, died at 88, the University of Texas at Austin said Saturday.

A professor at the university since the 1980s, Weinberg died Friday in Austin, Texas, according to his wife Louise, UT spokeswoman Christine Sinatra said. The physicist was in the hospital for several weeks, but a cause of death was not released, according to Sinatra.

“The death of Steven Weinberg is a loss for the University of Texas and for society,” UT President Jay Hartzell said in a statement.

“Professor Weinberg uncovered the mysteries of the universe for millions of people, thereby enriching humanity with the concept of nature and our relationship to the world,” Hartzell added.

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In 1979, Weinberg shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with scientists Abdus Salam and Sheldon Lee Glashow. Their work improved the understanding of how everything in the universe relates, according to a UT statement.

The work helped physicists unite two of the four natural forces, subatomic forces known as nuclear forces, said Sean Carroll, a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology.

“It’s all about understanding the laws of nature on a deep level. We are interesting beings and we want to know how the universe around us works,” Carroll said.

Weinberg’s work was based on the work of Albert Einstein, according to physicist Brian Greene of Columbia University’s string theory.

“The idea was that all the forces of nature could actually be the same force … it was this dream that Einstein had that it could all be whole,” Greene said. “He pushed this idea forward. He pushed this idea forward by showing (two forces) were the same force.”

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Weinberg, Salam and Glashow – working separately – were honored “for their contributions to the theory of unified weak and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles, including … the prediction of the weak neutral current,” according to the website of ‘ and the Nobel Prize.

A New York resident, Weinberg was a researcher at Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley earlier in his career. He then served on the faculty of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before joining the UT faculty in 1982, teaching both physics and astronomy.

Weinberg is survived by his wife and a daughter. Funeral services were not announced.


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