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徐一鸿(A. Zee):悼念史蒂文·温伯格

2021 年 7 月 24 日(北京时间),当代最伟大的物理学家之一史蒂芬·温伯格(Steven Weinberg)教授在美国逝世,享年 88 岁。为表达哀思与纪念,《数理人文》特别邀请徐一鸿教授撰文缅怀哲人。
 
撰文 | 徐一鸿(Anthony Zee)
 
翻译 | 肖煌煜
 
Steven Weinberg (May 3, 1933 - July 23, 2021)
照片来源:T. Siegfried
 
In Memoriam: Steven Weinberg
 
悼念史蒂文·温伯格
 
I mourn not only the passing of a towering intellect, but also the passing of a glorious chapter in theoretical physics. Steven Weinberg provided me with a model to strive for. While I am nowhere near him in accomplishments, I have always tried, to the best of my abilities, to emulate him: to think, to write, and to avoid "petty administrative work" as much as possible.
 
我感到无比沉痛,不仅是因为一位光芒万丈的物理天才的去世,更是因为理论物理中浓墨重彩的一笔就此翻过。史蒂文·温伯格,树立成为我敬仰效法的典范。我在各方面成就仍远不及他,但自始至今,竭力向他学习:如何思考,如何写作,并尽可能避免“琐屑的行政工作”。
 
A couple of reminiscences out of many over the decades (these, marked by the symbol , are taken from the American Institute of Physics Oral History Interviews with minimal edits in order to preserve the conversational tone):
 
重温超过半世纪关于与温伯格的回忆,我摘录了以下两段(用记号 标记,是好几个月前从美国口述物理史所的访谈记录中摘录,为保留对话的语气,仅作最少的编修。):
 
Fortunately, Wheeler didn't hold my “betrayal” against me. That reflects how very generous he was. In fact, when it was time to apply to graduate school, I went to Wheeler to ask for advice. Looking back, I'm not clear why I did that. I didn't go to Wightman to ask for advice. I didn't go to Treiman to ask for advice. Some kind of instinct, feeling that with Wheeler's personality, he would look out for me.
 
幸运的是,惠勒没有因为我的“辜负”而排斥我。这说明他的慷慨大方。实际上,在我申请研究生学校期间,曾到惠勒那里去寻求建议。现在回想起来,我并不清楚当时为何那样做。我没有去找怀特曼,也没有去找特雷曼。某种直觉告诉我,以惠勒的性格,他会尽力帮助我。
 
I remember very vividly Wheeler sitting me down and drawing a rather elaborate chart on a piece of paper. He said, "I'll tell you who the best theoretical physicists are in the US right now," and he wrote down about twenty names, telling me where they were and what he thought of them. He said, "Well, this one has a Nobel Prize, but he's over the top, going downhill fast." He continued in this vein for a while. Then he said, “This man, Steve Weinberg, is quite young, but I think he really has a great future ahead of him.” So he told me to go to Berkeley to work with Weinberg, saying that he'd write to him.
 
我的回忆仍然栩栩如生,惠勒让我坐下,并在一张纸上画出一份相当精致的图表。他说:“我会告诉你在美国哪些是最顶级的理论物理学家,”然后他写出了大概二十个名字,告诉我他们在哪工作以及他的相关评价。他说:“你看,这个人有诺贝尔奖,但是他的巅峰已过,走下坡很快。”他继续这样的评点一阵后,说:“这个人,史蒂文·温伯格,非常年轻,但是我认为他未来的成就不可限量。”所以他告诉我要去伯克利大学,和温伯格一起工作。他并说会写信告知温伯格。
 
Then he called in his secretary. Nowadays, very few of we professors have our own secretaries. Those were the days! He dictated a letter to Weinberg in my presence, basically saying, "I have this kid here whom I'm sending to Berkeley to work for you." [Laughing] Then he told me to call Weinberg.
 
然后他叫进他的秘书。现今,我们仅非常少的教授能拥有自己的私人秘书。那可真是黄金岁月!他向温伯格写了一封信提及我,大致内容是:“我这儿有个小朋友,送到伯克利,到你那儿工作。” [笑] 然后他要我打电话给温伯格。
 
I had to gather up a lot of quarters, something like ten dollars' worth, and I went into the phone booth on campus to call Weinberg. When I tell this story to young people, some might say, "What are the quarters for? ..." [Laughing] So I called Weinberg, and he said, "I got the letter about you from Wheeler, but I'm leaving Berkeley. I'm moving to Harvard. You could come to Harvard if you want."
 
我必须收集很多二毛五分硬币,大概总共十美元。我随后去校园里的电话亭打给温伯格。当我跟年轻人说这个故事,他们可能会问:“要这些硬币做什么?...” [笑] 于是我打给了温伯格,他说:“我从惠勒那里收到了这封关于你的信,但我就要离开伯克利了,之后会去哈佛。如果你想的话,可以来哈佛。”
 
This was another piece of luck for me, a tremendous piece of luck. At that time, theoretical particle physics was split between the east coast and the west coast. The west coast, especially Berkeley, was doing S-matrix theory and bootstrap and things like that, while the east coast, in particular Harvard, was more into quantum field theory. So that decided my career as well. ... [Laughs]
 
这就是我的另一份幸运了,一份极大的幸运。那个时代,理论物理学家分成了两个阵营——西海岸和东海岸。在西海岸,尤其是伯克利,他们在做一些 S-矩阵以及靴绊之类的工作,而东海岸,尤其是在哈佛,大家更倾力于量子场论。于是,这决定了我的发展方向……[笑]
 
For various reasons, I chose not work with Weinberg, but his influence over me, through his papers and his books, was, and continues to be, enormous. Indeed, in late 2019, I had the pleasure of discussing with him the manuscript for his paper "Models of lepton and quark masses", later published in Phys. Rev. D 101, 035020 (2020). (Reference [3] in this paper is overly generous: I had to remind Weinberg that my work with my student in the late 1970s was directly inspired by his PRL in 1972.)
 
由于不同的原因,我没有选择和温伯格一起工作。但是他对我的影响,通过文章和书籍,以往至今,并将继续无比深远。的确,在 2019 年末,我曾有幸与他一起讨论他的手稿“轻子和夸克的质量模型”。后来这篇文章即发表在 Phys. Rev. D 101, 035020 (2020)。(这篇文章的参考文献 [3] 是过于慷慨了【译注:温伯格在参考文献 [1] 中引用了一次作者的文章,并在参考文献 [3] 中再以另一理由引用了同一篇,用以强调论据,所以作者说他“过于慷慨”。】,我必须要提醒温伯格的是 ,我在上世纪七十年代末和我学生发表的文章【译注:即被温伯格引用的文章】,是直接由他 1972 年的 PRL 文章而启发的。)
 
So, Weinberg played a role in launching me on my career in theoretical physics. He also jump started my side career as a writer. The news of his passing came as a quite a shock since he was still giving me advice about book publishing several weeks ago.
 
所以,温伯格在我的理论物理学家的生涯中,无疑扮演了推动者的角色。他也快速促成了我的业余作家事业。他去世的新闻,让我十分震惊又难过,因为就在几周前,他还在为我的出书计划和出版提供建议。
 
After some years at Harvard, Weinberg moved to the University of Texas. Then he invited me and my wife to spend a week in Texas, and he drove me around Austin, telling me what it was like to live there, in particular showing me where I could buy the New York Times in those pre-internet days. By the way, I first met Joe Polchinski at a dinner party at Weinberg's house. He and his wife arrived just as my wife and I were leaving -- their flight to Austin was delayed. He ended up going to Texas. I had no inkling of course, that later, we would spend many years with our offices next door to each other. Such is the academic game of musical chairs. Anyway, I was sitting in Weinberg's office when his secretary came in with his mail. You know, a big shot like Weinberg has a secretary who opens his mail and prioritizes things, and she said, "Here is a review of your book." Weinberg had just published a popular book about particles, one of my favorites by the way, and he glanced at the review and he sort of flew into a rage, because I gathered that the reviewer had some negative things to say.
 
在哈佛工作了多年后,温伯格礼遇受邀决定搬去德克萨斯大学任职。之后他邀请我和我妻子到德克萨斯州度过了一个星期,他开车带我在奥斯汀到处闲逛,告诉我住在那里的体验。尤其是,他还向我展示了在互联网时代之前,哪里能买到纽约时报。顺便一提,在温伯格家中的晚宴上,我第一次见到了乔·波尔钦斯基,他和妻子就在我与太太即将离开时到达 —— 他们到德州奥斯汀的飞机延误了。他最后去了德克萨斯大学当教授。当然,我当时从未想到,之后我们竟有这么多年,彼此办公室相邻共处。【译注:波尔钦斯基在德克萨斯大学任职几年后,又搬去加州大学圣巴巴拉分校和当地国家理论物理所任职,与作者成为了多年同事。】这就是学术圈的音乐椅游戏。【译注:音乐椅游戏,音乐响起后参与者在椅子旁绕圈,当音乐突然停止,参与者要尽快坐到椅子上,最迟得不到座位者淘汰出局;之后减少一张椅子,继续游戏,至得出胜利者为止。用来比喻众人各出奇谋,相争有限的席位。这里喻指学术圈教职和研究位缺的紧张。】无论如何,我当时坐在温伯格的办公室中,这时他的秘书正带着他的信件进门。你知道,温伯格这样的大人物,一般有秘书为他打开信箱并挑出重要的文件。他的秘书说:“这里有一份书评,关于你的书的。”温伯格当时刚刚出版了一本关于粒子的科普书,顺此一提,那是我最喜欢的书之一。他看了一眼,像是愠怒,据我所知,书评者有些负面的评价。
 
I raised my hand timidly, and said, "Professor Weinberg, I had also thought of writing a book because I taught this course on quantum field theory and ..." [laughing] Weinberg said, "Oh! Don't write a textbook. Write a popular book instead. You have to write a popular book before you can write a textbook. A lot of physicists write textbooks without knowing whether they are capable of explaining things. If you can explain physics to a lay person, then you can really explain physics to a student." By the way, I have been giving that same advice to any physicist who asked me about writing. Anyway, Weinberg offered to write a letter of introduction to his publisher in New York. ... Weinberg evidently had a lot of clout as the publisher made me an offer almost immediately after I showed him a sample of my writing. That sample eventually turned into a chapter in Fearful Symmetry.
 
就在当时,我胆怯地举起了手,说:“温伯格教授,我其实也想过写一本书,因为我教了量子场论这门课...”[笑] 温伯格说:“噢!不要写教科书,先写本科普书吧。在你有能力写教科书之前,你必须先写科普书。很多物理学家,在不知道自己是否能把事情讲得清楚明白时,就匆匆写了教科书。如果你能向普通人讲明白物理,你才真正能向学生讲明白。”顺便一提,我向所有前来征询意见,想要写作的物理学家,都给了相同的建议。后来接着温伯格给他在纽约的出版商写了一封推荐我的介绍信... 显然地,温伯格有极大的影响力,因为我只是给出版商提供了一份我的写作样本,他马上就答应帮我出书了。那份样本已成为了《可畏的对称》中的一章。
 
—— Anthony Zee(徐一鸿 )2021.07.24
 
关于作者和译者
 
作者:徐一鸿(Anthony Zee)是著名理论物理学家,美国艺术与科学院院士,出生于昆明,成长于上海、香港和巴西,本科就读于普林斯顿大学,博士毕业于哈佛大学。目前任教于加州大学圣塔芭芭拉分校的卡弗里理论物理研究所(Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics)。徐一鸿亦为著名作家,著作中包括畅销科普书《可畏的对称》(Fearful Symmetry)、《爱因斯坦的玩具》(An Old Man's Toy)、《引力 --- 爱因斯坦的时空二重奏》(On Gravity,2021 年中文版发表),皆翻译成多国语言;以及权威教科书《简明量子场论》(Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell)、《爱因斯坦引力导论》(Einstein Gravity in a Nutshell)、《物理学家的群论》(Group Theory in a Nutshell for Physicists)、《Fly by Night Physics》(2020 年出版)。
 
译者:肖煌煜 ,美国华盛顿大学(西雅图)物理系。
 
本文经授权转载自微信公众号“数理人文”,原题目《悼念史蒂文·温伯格 (1933 - 2021) | 特邀撰稿:徐一鸿(A. Zee)教授》。
 



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