Spencer R. Weart

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Spencer R. Weart

Spencer R. Weart (born 1942) is the former director of the Center for History of Physics of the American Institute of Physics (AIP) from 1971 until his retirement in 2009.


Originally trained as a physicist, he is now a historian of science.[1] He earned his B.A. in Physics at Cornell University in 1963 and a Ph.D. in Physics and Astrophysics at the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1968. He then did postdoctoral studies at the Hale Observatories and California Institute of Technology, publishing papers on solar physics; from 1971 to 1974 he studied history of science in the University of California, Berkeley. While directing the AIP Center for History of Physics he taught courses at Johns Hopkins University and Princeton University.


He conducted oral history interviews of many physical scientists, particularly astrophysicists such as Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1977)[2] and climate scientists such as Wallace Broecker (1997).[3]


He has produced numerous historical articles and two children's science books and written or co-edited eleven other books,[4] including the following:

  • Scientists in Power (1979). A history of the rise of nuclear science, weapons, and reactors in France. ISBN 0-674-79515-6[5][6]
  • as editor with Gertrud Weiss Szilard: Leo Szilard: His Version of the Facts (1978). Edited correspondence. ISBN 0-262-69070-5[7]
  • Nuclear Fear: A History of Images (1989) ISBN 0-674-62836-5[8]
  • as editor with Lillian Hoddeson, Ernest Braun & Jürgen Teichmann: Out of the Crystal Maze: Chapters from the History of Solid State Physics (1992). ISBN 0-19-505329-X[9]
  • Never at War: Why Democracies Will Not Fight One Another (1998). ISBN 0-300-08298-3
  • The Discovery of Global Warming (2003, 2008). Online extended version. ISBN 0-674-03189-X
  • The Rise of Nuclear Fear (2012). ISBN 978-0-674-05233-8

While at AIP he also produced and edited an award-winning website with historical exhibits.


  1. ^ "American Institute of Physics' biographical note on Spencer Weart". aip.org. American Institute of Physics. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  2. ^ "S. Chandrasekhar - Session I". 12 January 2015.
  3. ^ "Interview of Wallace Broecker by Spencer Weart". Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics. 1997.
  4. ^ Weart's list of publications
  5. ^ "excerpts from Scientists in Power: France and the Origins of Nuclear Energy, 1900–1950 by S. R. Weart". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. 35 (3): 41–50. March 1979. doi:10.1080/00963402.1979.11458599.
  6. ^ Bromberg, Joan (18 May 1979). "Review of Scientists in Power by S. R. Weart". Science. 204 (4394): 741–742. Bibcode:1979Sci...204..741W. doi:10.1126/science.204.4394.741. PMID 17840238.
  7. ^ Phillips, Melba (Spring 1980). "Review of Leo Szilard: His Version of the Facts by Leo Szilard; Spencer R. Weart (ed.); Gertrud Weiss Szilard (ed.)". Science & Society. 44 (1): 87–89. JSTOR 40402222.
  8. ^ Lutts, Ralph H. (Winter 1991). "Review of Nuclear Fear: A History of Images by Spencer R. Weart". Environmental History Review. 15 (4): 109–111. doi:10.2307/3985003. JSTOR 3985003.
  9. ^ Steinfink, Hugo (1994). "Review of Out of the Crystal Maze: Chapters from the History of Solid State Physics edited by L. Hoddeson, E. Braun, J. Teichmann & S. Weart" (PDF). Acta Crystallogr. A50: 796–797. doi:10.1107/S0108767394008792.

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