Steven Weinberg (b. 1933) was born in New York to Jewish parents of Romanian and German heritage. He studied at the Bronx High School of Science, then did his undergraduate studies in physics at Cornell. After a brief stint at the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark, he earned his PhD at Princeton in 1957. Weinberg first did research at Columbia University, then became a professor at UC Berkeley. While there, he started writing one of his most famous books, The Quantum Theory of Fields, as well as the popular textbook Gravitation and Cosmology. In 1966, Weinberg moved back east to teach at Harvard. The following year, as a visiting professor at MIT, he published his new model unifying electromagnetism and the nuclear forces. Part of this was proposing the existence of the Higgs boson (which was finally discovered in 2012). Weinberg’s model built on the work of his former high school classmate and fellow Jewish physicist, Sheldon Glashow. The two shared the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work (together with Pakistani physicist Abdus Salam). Over the years, Weinberg did research on—and greatly furthered our understanding of—gravity and cosmology, quantum physics and string theory, pions, leptons, and supersymmetry. His work has expanded nearly every aspect of modern physics and is among the most renowned scientists in the world. Weinberg has testified before Congress as an expert witness, and has written many popular articles and science books, among them The First Three Minutes and To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science. He has been awarded 11 honourary degrees together with a long list of awards including the National Medal of Science. Weinberg is also a staunch supporter of Israel and has refused to speak at universities that boycott the Jewish State. Today, as he nears his 87th birthday, he continues to write and teach physics at the University of Texas at Austin.
Words of the Week
Given the history of the attacks on Israel and the oppressiveness and aggressiveness of other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere, boycotting Israel indicates a moral blindness for which it is hard to find any explanation other than antisemitism. – Steven Weinberg
Emmanuel Lubezki, known to most people as Chivo, or “Goat” (Credit: Getty Images)
Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki Morgenstern (b. 1964) was born to a Russian-Jewish family in Mexico City. He initially studied history, then switched to film studies and became a cinematographer. He first worked on a film made with a group of 10 friends who pooled together $7000. It brought in enough money to make a second film, which found more success in Mexico, but no profit. His third film brought an invitation to the Toronto International Film Festival, following which Lubezki started getting calls from Hollywood (yet still barely spoke any English). Among his first major productions was a collaboration with his childhood friend and classmate Alfonso Cuaron. The two went on to make 6 films together, winning a handful of Oscars along the way. Lubezki’s work on the 2006 film Children of Men was critically acclaimed for its new cinematic techniques, and got him a fourth Oscar nomination. He finally won an Academy Award in 2013 for Gravity, another trailblazer in 3D cinematography which some have described as “the most technologically impressive film ever” and “the greatest visual achievement in the history of cinema”. (It took over four years of work for Lubezki’s team to make it happen.) He won yet again the following year for Birdman, and took a third Oscar in a row this year for The Revenant. This set a new record, making Lubezki the first cinematographer to win three Oscars in three consecutive years. Among Lubezki’s other highly-praised works are The Tree of Life (starring Brad Pitt) and Ali (starring Will Smith). Alfonso Cuaron has said of Lubezki: “You go to a concert and you are listening to the music… Chivo’s looking at the light. When you’re having dinner with Chivo, he starts moving everything around – he’ll move a candle over here or a light over there – until suddenly the light is just right.”
Words of the Week
The righteous promise little and do a lot; the wicked promise much and don’t do even a little. – Talmud, Bava Metzia 87a