Kenneth G. Wilson

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Kenneth Geddes Wilson
Born(1936-06-08)June 8, 1936
DiedJune 19, 2013(2013-06-19) (aged 77)
NationalityUnited States
Alma materCaltech
Known forphase transitions
Wilson Loops
AwardsWolf Prize in physics in 1980
1982 Nobel Prize in Physics
Scientific career
FieldsTheoretical physics
InstitutionsCornell University
Doctoral advisorMurray Gell-Mann
Doctoral studentsRoman Jackiw
Steve Shenker
Michael Peskin
Paul Ginsparg

Kenneth Geddes Wilson (June 8, 1936 – June 15, 2013) was an American theoretical physicist and Nobel Prize winner.

Education[change | change source]

As an undergraduate at Harvard, he was a Putnam Fellow. He earned his PhD from Caltech in 1961, studying under Murray Gell-Mann.

Works[change | change source]

He became a junior faculty member in Cornell University Physics Department in 1963. He became a full professor in 1970. In 1974, he became the James A. Weeks Professor of Physics at Cornell. He was a co-winner of the Wolf Prize in physics in 1980, together with Michael E. Fisher and Leo Kadanoff. He got the 1982 Nobel Prize in Physics for combining quantum field theory and the statistical theory of critical phenomena of second-order phase transitions. In other words the prize was for his constructive theory of the renormalization group. In this theory he gave not only important, and even numerical, insights to the field of critical statics and dynamics in statistical physics, but indirectly also basic answers to the question: "What is quantum field theory?" and "What does renormalization mean?". He also gave a constructive answer to another important "renormalization" problem from solid-state physics, the Kondo effect.

He advocated that the federal government should buy supercomputers for science research. In 1985, he was appointed as Cornell's Director of the Center for Theory and Simulation in Science and Engineering (known now as the Cornell Theory Center, one of five national supercomputer center created by the National Science Foundation. Since 1988, Dr. Wilson has been a faculty member at The Ohio State University. His current research interests include physics education research.

Some of his PhD students include Roman Jackiw, Steve Shenker, and Michael Peskin.

Wilson's father was the prominent chemist E. Bright Wilson, and his brother David is also a Professor at Cornell in the department of Molecular Biology and Genetics.

Wilson died on June 19, 2013 from lymphoma in Saco, Maine, aged 77.[1]

Awards[change | change source]

Literature[change | change source]

  • Wilson, K. G. "Broken Scale Invariance and Anomalous Dimensions", Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC,)Stanford University, Laboratory of Nuclear Studies, Cornell University, United States Department of Energy (through predecessor agency the Atomic Energy Commission), (May 1970).
  • Gupta, R.; Wilson, K. G.; & C. Umrigar. "Improved Monte Carlo Renormalization Group Method", Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Cornell University, United States Department of Energy, (1985).
  • Wilson, K. G.:Problems in physics with many scales of length, Scientific American, August 1979
  • the same:The Renormalization group (RG) and critical phenomena 1, Physical Review B, volume 4, 1971, p. 3174
  • the same: The renormalization group: critical phenomena and the Kondo problem, Reviews of modern physics, 47, 1975, p. 773-839
  • the same, and M. Fisher: Critical exponents in 3.99 dimensions, Physical Review Letters, 28, 1972, p. 240
  • the same: Non-lagrangian models in current algebra Physical Review, 179, 1969, p. 1499-1512 (operator product expansion)
  • the same: Model of coupling constant renormalisation, Physical Review D, 2, 1970, p. 1438–1472
  • the same: Operator product expansions and anomalous dimensions in Thirring model, ibid., p. 1473–77
  • the same: Anomalous dimensions and breakdown of scale invariance in perturbation theory, ibid. p. 1478–93
  • the same: RG and strong interactions Physical Review D, 3, 1971, p. 1818–46
  • the same: Confinement of quarks, Physical Review D, 10, 1974, p. 2445–59

References[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]