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Dreams of a Final Theory: The Search for the Fundamental Laws of Nature

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  1,040 ratings  ·  41 reviews
An understanding of nature's final laws may be within our grasp - a way of explaining forces and symmetries and articles that does not require further explanation. 'This starting point, to which all explanations can be traced, is what I mean by a final theory', says Steven Weinberg in this extraordinary book. In it he discusses beauty, the weakness of philosophy, the best ...more
Paperback, 260 pages
Published 1993 by Vintage (first published 1992)
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Bob Nichols
This is sort of an intellectual biography of Weinberg’s career in (quantum) physics, and a pitch for the Superconducting Super Collider that was under consideration in the early 1990s. As with many other books for “general readership” in physics, a good part of this book is difficult to understand. Even so, there are several things that stood out.

Weinberg states outright that quantum mechanics, in contrast to classical mechanics, describes nature in terms of waves and probabilities, not particle
صفاء فضلاوي
ليس تقيمي الاخير والنهائي لهذا الكتاب، سأعيد قرائته مرة اخرى بعد ان اتعمق اكثر في فيزياء الكم لان الكاتب طرح الكثير من المفاهيم والمسائل الفيزيائية التي وجدت صعوبة كبيرة في فهمها
Bojan Tunguz
Steven Weinberg is one of twentieth century's greatest theoretical physicists. He is one of the codiscoverers of the Electroweak Theory, an important piece of the puzzle that describes all of the fundamental forces of nature. He is also a very prolific writer, with several important textbooks and a few books that aim to popularize Physics and make it accessible to the general audience. The theme of this book is the long standing problem in Physics, and that is the one of unification of all force ...more
Derek Davis
Particle physicist Weinberg's extraordinary intelligence infuses every sentence, but without pushiness or arrogance. Not every concept and theory he presents comes through clearly to this non-mathematical layman, but the currents, both of writing and thought, flow smoothly. And he brings a different approach to some concepts than I have run across in other "popularizations." (Weinberg includes no math here, but certain ideas in particle physics are close to impossible to envision completely with ...more
I won't judge this book on its out-of-dateness or it's terrible audiobook narrator (not the author's fault), and I will try not to give too much weight to the ending of the book, where Steven Weinberg leaves the realm of science and instead moves into religion (this is never a good thing for a scientist to do - too often they conflate "science being unable to prove the existence of God" with "science proves God doesn't exist"). The rest of the book is pretty good, though not exceptional, and not ...more
Fascinating mashup of sciences and arts usually thought to be exclusive of the others, but this book demonstrates, probably more clearly than any other I've read, that physics, mathematics, philosophy and religion are inextricably intertwined. There's something here to stimulate the fundamentalist physicist, the atheist mathematician, and any and all combinations in between.
Steven Weinberg is a prolific and significant figure-head of the late 20th century physics community. So, I was a bit intimidated by the potential complexity of this book. Quickly mulling over the pages did not reveal any math text; which came to a big surprise for me. It looked like it was going to be another qualitative overview on a specific branch of physics.

It turned out to be quite welcoming and specifically catered towards the layman. I definitely appreciated his take on the state of scie
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in October 1998.

Steven Weinberg, winner of the Nobel prize in physics for his work on elementary particle theory, wrote this book while involved in the campaign by American physicists to obtain a grant for the Superconducting Super-Collider (SSC). This campaign colours the book, a lot of it being Weiberg's responses to the type of questions both physicists and non-physicists asked about the project and its aims, or an outcome of his own background thought as
In the preface, Kuhn briefly, indirectly but beautifully thanks a friend and colleague of his, Stanley Cavell, a philosopher who, while focusing on ethics and aesthetics, was one of the few people with whom Kuhn was "…ever been able to explore my ideas in incomplete sentences."

It is a truly profound gift to find such people, and as I read this essay, I was hit by the onrushing awareness that Kuhn was one of the thinkers with whom, in many respects, I was staggeringly precisely on the same page.
At last, respite! Finally there comes a writer who does not evoke God when writing a book on physics for general public, finally I get to read someone who brings out his point with little or no historical bullshit or brings in no orientalism or mysticism when dealing with the interference pattern!!

Maybe if I were a reputed critic working for Times in 1993, I might have started my critique in the above manner for Steven Weinberg’s ‘dreams of a final theory’.

Well, I my short, stupid life I have r
He descubierto que soy positivista (y yo sin saberlo) porque creo que hay principios más fundamentales que otros...sin embargo estoy de acuerdo en que: "toda explicación puede ser a su vez explicada a partir de una teoría o conjetura de un grado de universalidad mayor. No puede haber una explicación que no necesite una explicación posterior..."(K. Popper)Así que no estoy muy convencido sobre eso de la teoría final...

Otra cosa, que siempre me ha parecido sorprendente y parece que a Weimberg tambi
Wow, this one took me a while. It may be because my students are taking the AP exam this coming Monday, but it is more truthfully because this book was dense. Very good, but dense. Originally published prior to the defunding of the SSC in 1994, Weinberg used his discussion of the final theory as a means of framing his well-considered defense of this amazing piece of technology. The afterward, "The Super Collider: One Year Later" read like an open letter to Congress, and was clearly sorrowful, bu ...more
I'm again about half way through this one, but I've spent the last couple of days thinking about a quote in this by Bohr. Now, you need to know that the Uncertainty Principle states that one can not know both the position and the momentum (sometimes people say velocity – but it is actually momentum, as they wrongly assume that a particle’s mass won’t change) of a particle at the same time and that the more accuracy you have in measuring the one, the less you have of the other. These types of pro ...more
Larry Gerovac
Steven Weinberg writes for the everyday reader in this book. No complex mathematical equations, just straight forward thoughts of why physicists are seeking the final theory. Like Hawking believed, to understand natures laws gives us a look at the mind of God... for my part, it's a beautiful thing.
s.m. k.
I read this several years ago. An interesting book that focuses on the quest for the so-called 'theory of everything.' Weinberg believes (or at least did when this book was written) that the laws of physics will eventually be able to explain human consciousness. I recently watched a television special based on Hawking's newest book, The Grand Design, and he states the same. It may well be true...and they spend one episode (there are several episodes based on the book) discussing the implications ...more
Maha Al Marri
the author presents an enjoyable clear discussion of many scientific theories and what the modern concept of the theory means and how to find it.
Heather Denkmire
My brain hurt listening to this book. Typically that's not a big problem, I just have to work harder to understand. What I realized after just a few chapters, though, is not only was it very challenging but it was only about every third or fourth idea that I found myself interested. The author says it's for people without scientific backgrounds but I suspect he's so involved in the world of science he doesn't really know what it's like to know next to nothing.

The concepts are obviously really in
Todd Martin
Dreams of a Final Theory by Nobel Prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg is look at the attempt to developed a single unified theory, what such a theory might look like and its implications. In the process, Weinberg reviews the major developments in our current understanding of physics and their limitations.

Though the writing is fairly dry, Weinberg has some interesting insights into the current state of physics, the elegance of its theories and where the field is headed.
Phil Mullen
This too I used as bus-reading for about a year. Weinberg is clear (though often, the material itself is of such difficulty that I can only guess at the real meaning).

I just now finished it off. What is so for me is that *often* I have a low-level but pleasant sense, when I've read such a book (above my comprehension level) -- that I've done a layman's duty in trying to have a dim idea of what is being done among scientists.
That is a mild thrill, actually.
Though it has been at least ten years since I read this work, and I've earned a few physics degrees since then, I still remember it fondly. Not quite as brilliant as A Brief History of Time, therefore not five stars. Too reductionist in its thinking — I don't remember much appreciation for complexity, ecology, etc. — therefore bumped down one more star.
The weird thing about physicists is that they think you can write down a few equations and describe the entire universe, ignoring the emergent complexity of living beings that are at once part of the universe but can have 2 pound brains capable of understanding the totality of the universe. It's almost like they've never been on a date with a real person ... oh wait ...
Apr 25, 2007 cecelia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Science geeks like me
Shelves: recommend
The search for a final theory that explains everything in the universe is a real life long quest for many fundamental scientists. Where Physics and Math intersect with philosophy and religon is what really fascinates me. This book will take some effort getting through since it is quite technical at parts.
Just to be clear here, this three star rating is more an indictment of me and my limited ability to comprehend the world of particle physics than an actual assessment of the quality of this book. It is probably a great book if you have the knowledge base needed to appreciate it.
I've read this twice, and found it interesting and valuable. Okay, so the SSC is dead, but the real meat of this book is Weinberg's discussions of how physicists go about making theories. He also has a very clear way of laying out philosophical discussions.
Soha Bayoumi
Interesting, but probably too reductionist, at least from a philosophical point of view with which the author takes issue... I found his chapter "against philosophy" quite intriguing, but not convincing.
Muntazir  Mehdi Abidi
This book is simply wonderful! I have read it twice and I was completely enthralled while reading. By the way, Steven Weinberg's writings inspired me for high energy theoretical physics :)
So far it's good, but I'm reserving complete judgment until the end - unfortunately physics books sometimes start off good and then slow down. Hopefully not this one.
Daniel Toker
I mostly agreed with Weinberg's ideas. In terms of his actual writing, though, he's no Carl Sagan. Overall, a worthwhile read, and fairly easy to understand.
Brian Bloom
There are some commonalities between this and the first 3 minutes however after the first couple chapters it delineates from Steven Weinberg's other book
Interesting, often very opinionated view of particle physics and the greater role that physics does (or should) play in the lives of everybody.
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