Steven Weinberg visits CERN

Steven Weinberg visiting the ATLAS cavern accompanied by Peter Jenni

It was no surprise that the CERN audience arrived early in the Globe of Science and Innovation for the colloquium on 7 July. Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg is one of the major contributors to the Standard Model of particle physics. He received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1979 for his work on the unified theory of the electromagnetic and weak interactions, one of the essential pillars of the Standard Model.

After lunch at CERN and a visit to ATLAS, Weinberg gave a colloquium on "The Quantum Theory of Fields: Effective or Fundamental" to a packed audience. In his talk, he looked at how the use of quantum field theory in particle physics has fluctuated in popularity since Paul Dirac first introduced the approach to describe the interaction of particles with electromagnetic fields in the late 1920s. In particular, he posed the question: Is quantum field theory fundamental or does it arise from some deeper theory, such as string theory? "I don’t want to discourage string theorists," he concluded, "but maybe the world is what we’ve always known: the Standard Model and general relativity."