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To Explain the World

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About the Author

Steven Weinberg has won the Nobel Prize in Physics, the National Medal of Science, the Lewis Thomas Prize for the Scientist as Poet and numerous honorary degrees. He is a member of the National Academy of Science, the Royal Society of London and the American Philosophical Society. A long-time contributor to the New York Review of Books, he is the author of The First Three Minutes and Dreams of a Final Theory, among other books.


A great book, a necessary book for our time Independent In Steven Weinberg's To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science and Frank Wilczek's A Beautiful Question: Finding Nature's Deep Design, two Nobel physicists give two astonishingly different accounts of the history of science, from antiquity to their own discoveries. Weinberg takes an unapologetically hard-headed stance, where philosophy, beauty and so forth are denounced as misleading. Wilczek sketches a dreamy vision, where beauty and harmony are essential ingredients of the quest for knowledge. Who is right? Both: this is the magic of science, which coherently combines wildly diverse skills. Weinberg is a father of electroweak theory, Wilczek of strong interaction. Still unsolved is gravity: what are the skills we need to solve it? We do not know yet -- Carlo Rovelli, Financial Times 'Books of the Year' I read To Explain the World completely enthralled. It transmutes the base metal of a mere history of science into pure gold-into a magisterial celebration of a long and heroic struggle, still incomplete, to understand nature. Only a committed scientist of Steven Weinberg's brilliance, experience and breadth of insight could have accomplished this. I ended the book exhilarated Ian McEwan In this masterful, entertainingly 'irreverent' book, Weinberg explains the rise of science from ancient Greeks to modern geeks in terms that his students and the rest of us will understand -- Iain Finlayson The Times 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 -- Richard Dawkins Regarded as the pre-eminent theoretical physicist alive today... Weinberg is also a fine writer and communicator about ideas beyond his own field... Weinberg has clearly carried out extensive scholarly investigation for To Explain the World, and the book works as history. But what makes it tand out is his perspective as a top scientist working today -- Clive Cookson Financial Times Weinberg has reached the pinnacle of scientific success - the Nobel Prize - he writes clearly and with confidence, imbuing the reader with an irresistible sense that one is in the hands of a master physicist at play Sunday Times There have been many accounts of the historical progression of our understanding of the world around us, but few have had the unique selling point of Steven Weinberg's To Explain the World... Weinberg's chronicle of the long development of physics leading up to the role he has personally played in it is akin to Winston Churchill's A History of the English-Speaking Peoples -- Lewis Dartnell Telegraph An absolute delight Times Higher Education A refreshing contrast to other tomes on the topic... Weinberg reminds us to be humble not only about what we know, but how we know it The Guardian An enlightening read that does not demand specialist knowledge to enjoy -- Robert Kingston Sunday Times The book is a magnificent contribution to the history and philosophy of science...Weinberg writes with great verve and clarity Times Literary Supplement

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