Steven Weinberg - Facing Up : Science and Its Cultural Adversaries

from the publisher:
In a recent New York Times profile, James Glanz remarked, "Steven Weinberg is 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.

Steven Weinberg, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Texas, is the author of many books, including The Quantum Theory of Fields, and, for general readers, The First Three Minutes and Dreams of a Final Theory. He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979 and The National Medal of Science in 1991.

In 23 previously published articles and miscellaneous speeches, which span 15 years, the Nobel Prize-winning particle physicist takes up arms against a sea of post-modernists, religionists, mystics, and even some liberal critics of modern science...However, interspersed with the arguments, counterarguments, and rebuttals of adversaries are two quieter gems: a tour-de-force summary of 20th-century physics' accomplishments and a brief description of the moment of inspiration for his development of the theory unifying the weak and electromagnetic force. --Kirkus Reviews

Winner of the Nobel Prize for physics in 1979, Weinberg will be well known to science buffs for his book The First Three Minutes and to a wider readership for his frequent essays in the New York Review of Books. He is one of the foremost proponents of reductionism, 'the explanation of a wide range of scientific principles in terms of simpler, more universal ones.' He has also been a major figure in the so-called science wars, arguing against writers like Derrida and Latour who question the objective character of scientific knowledge and maintain that cultural factors influence the nature of scientific discoveries...Yet he is quite adept at explaining complex concepts clearly to the general public. --Publishers Weekly

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

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