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Weinberg, Steven, 1933-
Oral history interview with Steven Weinberg, 1988 May 5 and 10.
Interview covers Steven Weinberg's awareness in high school of the Sandage Program to observe the rate of expansion of the universe and awareness of the impending operation of the Mt. Palomar telescope; early reading in cosmology; prejudice toward the steady state model in graduate school because of its definite predictions; the reality of cosmology as a legitimate science; Weinberg's early interest in cosmology; influence of Herman Bondi's book; concern in the early 1960s over limited contact between theory and observations; early work in the 1960s on the neutrino version of Olbers' Paradox and the possibility of a degenerate sea of neutrinos; preference for an oscillating universe as the next best thing after a steady state universe because you don't have to specify initial conditions; design of an experiment to search for degenerate neutrinos; Weinberg didn't take seriously his own work in cosmology in the 1960s; the importance of the discovery of the cosmic background radiation for making cosmology a legitimate science; the origin of Weinberg's book Gravitation and Cosmology; Weinberg's regret that he spent 1969-1971 working on a textbook when he should have been working on gauge theories in particle physics; history of the application of particle physics to cosmology. More discusion of the reasons why particle physicists began working on cosmology in the 1970s; importance of theoretical work by Kirzhnitz and Linde in 1972 on broken symmetries and phase transitions; current unreality of work on the very early universe; attitude toward the inflationary universe model; successes of the inflationary universe model; aesthetic attraction of a flat universe; acceptability of postulating that we live in a flat universe; introduction to and attitude toward the horizon problem; incidences of being worried about scientific problems that no one else is worried about; the anthropic principle and Dirac's large number hypothesis; reaction to de Lapparent, Geller, and Huchra's work on large-scale inhomogeneities; Weinberg worried that perhaps we have misinterpreted the cosmic background radiation; Weinberg's philosophy about strategy in science; the role of consensus in science and the importance of "standard" models; outstanding problems in cosmology: distance scale of the universe, value of the deceleration parameter, origin of structure; failure of theory to explain the observed large-scale structure; possible importance of weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs); prematurity of work on the early universe; ideal design of the universe; preference for universes in which initial conditions do not have to be specified; Weinberg's statement in The First Three Minutes about the lack of point to the universe.
Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University (1957); professional career has included work at Columbia University, the University of California, Berkeley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University, and the University of Texas, Austin; a member of the National Academy of Science; research interests include elementary particles, field theory, and cosmology.
Bondi, Hermann
Dirac, P. A. M. (Paul Adrien Maurice), 1902-1984
Geller, Margaret J.
Huchra, John P.
Kirzhnit︠s︡, D. A. (David Abramovich)
Linde, A. D.
Weinberg, Steven, 1933-
Palomar Observatory
Broken symmetry (Physics)
Cosmic background radiation
Expanding universe
Inflationary universe.
Large scale structure (Astronomy)
Olbers' paradox
Steady state cosmology.
Interviews. aat
Oral histories. aat
Transcripts. aat
Lightman, Alan P., 1948-, interviewer.
American Institute of Physics. Niels Bohr Library & Archives. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740, USA