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Kenneth Geddes "Ken" Wilson (June 8, 1936 – June 15, 2013) was an American theoretical physicist and a pioneer in leveraging computers for studying particle physics. He was awarded the 1982 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on phase transitions—illuminating the subtle essence of phenomena like melting ice and emerging magnetism. It was embodied in his fundamental work on the renormalization group.

Contents

1 Life 2 Work 3 Awards and honors 4 See also 5 Notes 6 External links

Life[edit] Wilson was born on June 8, 1936, in Waltham, Massachusetts, the oldest child of Emily Buckingham Wilson and E. Bright Wilson, a prominent chemist at Harvard University, who did important work on microwave emissions. His mother also trained as a physicist. He attended several schools, including Magdalen College School, Oxford, England, ending up at the George School
George School
in eastern Pennsylvania. He went on to Harvard College
Harvard College
at age 16, majoring in Mathematics and, on two occasions, ranked among the top five in the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition. He was also a star on the athletics track, representing Harvard in the Mile. During his summer holidays he worked at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He earned his PhD from Caltech
Caltech
in 1961, studying under Murray Gell-Mann.[2] He did post-doc work at Harvard and CERN.[3] He joined Cornell University
Cornell University
in 1963 in the Department of Physics as a junior faculty member, becoming a full professor in 1970. He also did research at SLAC during this period.[4] In 1974, he became the James A. Weeks Professor of Physics at Cornell. In 1982 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics
Nobel Prize in Physics
for his work on critical phenomena using the renormalization group.[5] He was a co-winner of the Wolf Prize in physics in 1980, together with Michael E. Fisher and Leo Kadanoff. His other awards include the A.C. Eringen Medal, the Franklin Medal, the Boltzmann Medal, and the Dannie Heinemann Prize. He was elected to the National Academy of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Science, both in 1975 and also was a member of the American Philosophical Society. In 1985, he was appointed as Cornell's Director of the Center for Theory and Simulation in Science and Engineering (now known as the Cornell Theory Center), one of five national supercomputer centers created by the National Science Foundation. In 1988, Dr. Wilson joined the faculty at The Ohio State University, moved to Gray, Maine in 1995. He continued his association with Ohio State University
Ohio State University
until he retired in 2008. Prior to his death, he was actively involved in research on physics education and was an early proponent of "active involvement" (i.e. Science by Inquiry) of K-12 students in science and math. Some of his PhD
PhD
students include H. R. Krishnamurthy, Roman Jackiw, Michael Peskin, Serge Rudaz, Paul Ginsparg, and Steven R. White.[1] Wilson's brother David was also a Professor at Cornell in the department of Molecular Biology and Genetics until his death[6], and his wife since 1982, Alison Brown, is a prominent computer scientist. He died seven days after his 77th birthday in Saco, Maine
Saco, Maine
on June 15, 2013.[7][8] He was respectfully remembered by his colleagues.[1][7][9] Work[edit] Wilson's work in physics involved formulation of a comprehensive theory of scaling: how fundamental properties and forces of a system vary depending on the scale over which they are measured. He devised a universal "divide-and-conquer" strategy for calculating how phase transitions occur, by considering each scale separately and then abstracting the connection between contiguous ones, in a novel appreciation of renormalization group theory. This provided profound insights into the field of critical phenomena and phase transitions in statistical physics enabling exact calculations.[10][11][12] One example of an important problem in solid-state physics he solved using renormalization is in quantitatively describing the Kondo effect.[13] He then extended these insights on scaling to answer fundamental questions on the nature of quantum field theory and the operator product expansion[14] and the physical meaning of the renormalization group.[15] He also pioneered our understanding of the confinement of quarks inside hadrons,[16] utilizing lattice gauge theory, and initiating an approach permitting formerly foreboding strong-coupling calculations on computers. On such a lattice, he further shed light on chiral symmetry, a crucial feature of elementary particle interactions.[17] Awards and honors[edit]

Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics, 1973 Boltzmann Medal, 1975 Wolf Prize, 1980 Harvard University, D.Sc (Hon.), 1981 Caltech, Distinguished Alumni Award, 1981 Franklin Medal, 1982 Nobel Prize for Physics, 1982 A. C. Eringen Medal, 1984 Aneesur Rahman Prize, 1993 American Physical Society
American Physical Society
Fellow, 1998 Australian National University, Distinguished Anniversary Fellow, 1996

See also[edit]

Color confinement Lattice gauge theory Lattice QCD Quantum triviality Renormalization Renormalization
Renormalization
group Scaling law Wilson loop

Notes[edit]

^ a b c d Kenneth G. Wilson at the Mathematics Genealogy Project ^ Wilson, K. G. (1961). "An investigation of the Low equation and the Chew-Mandelstam equations", Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. [1] ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/21/science/kenneth-wilson-nobel-physicist-dies-at-77.html?pagewanted=all ^ 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). ^ Wilson, K. (1974). "The renormalization group and the ε expansion". Physics Reports. 12 (2): 75–199. Bibcode:1974PhR....12...75W. doi:10.1016/0370-1573(74)90023-4. ; Wilson, K. (1983). "The renormalization group and critical phenomena". Reviews of Modern Physics. 55 (3): 583. Bibcode:1983RvMP...55..583W. doi:10.1103/RevModPhys.55.583. ; Wilson, K. G. (1974). "Critical phenomena in 3.99 dimensions". Physica. 73: 119–128. Bibcode:1974Phy....73..119W. doi:10.1016/0031-8914(74)90229-8.  ^ "Renowned biochemist David B. Wilson dies at 77 Cornell Chronicle". news.cornell.edu. Retrieved 2017-09-15.  ^ a b Overbye, Dennis (June 20, 2013). "Kenneth Wilson, Nobel Physicist, Dies at 77". NY Times.  ^ "Physics Nobel laureate Kenneth Wilson dies". Cornell Chronicle. June 18, 2013.  ^ Kadanoff, L. P. (2013). "Kenneth Geddes Wilson (1936–2013) Nobel-prizewinning physicist who revolutionized theoretical science". Nature. 500 (7460): 30. Bibcode:2013Natur.500...30K. doi:10.1038/500030a.  ^ Wilson, K. G. (1971). " Renormalization
Renormalization
Group and Critical Phenomena. I. Renormalization
Renormalization
Group and the Kadanoff Scaling Picture". Physical Review B. 4 (9): 3174. Bibcode:1971PhRvB...4.3174W. doi:10.1103/PhysRevB.4.3174.  ^ Wilson, K. (1971). " Renormalization
Renormalization
Group and Critical Phenomena. II. Phase-Space Cell Analysis of Critical Behavior". Physical Review B. 4 (9): 3184. Bibcode:1971PhRvB...4.3184W. doi:10.1103/PhysRevB.4.3184.  ^ Wilson, K. G.; Fisher, M. (1972). "Critical exponents in 3.99 dimensions". Physical Review Letters. 28: 240. Bibcode:1972PhRvL..28..240W. doi:10.1103/physrevlett.28.240.  ^ Wilson, K. (1975). "The renormalization group: Critical phenomena and the Kondo problem". Reviews of Modern Physics. 47 (4): 773. Bibcode:1975RvMP...47..773W. doi:10.1103/RevModPhys.47.773.  ^ Wilson, K. G. Non-lagrangian models in current algebra Physical Review, 179, 1969, p. 1499–1512 ; Model of coupling constant renormalisation, Physical Review D, 2, 1970, p. 1438–1472; Wilson, K. G., Operator product expansions and anomalous dimensions in Thirring model, ibid., p. 1473–77; Anomalous dimensions and breakdown of scale invariance in perturbation theory, ibid. p. 1478–93; Wilson, K. (1971). "Renormalization Group and Strong Interactions". Physical Review D. 3 (8): 1818. Bibcode:1971PhRvD...3.1818W. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.3.1818. ; Wilson, K. G. (1973). "Quantum Field - Theory Models in Less Than 4 Dimensions". Physical Review D. 7 (10): 2911. Bibcode:1973PhRvD...7.2911W. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.7.2911.  ^ Wilson, K. G.:Problems in physics with many scales of length, Scientific American, August 1979 "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-07-10. Retrieved 2013-06-18.  ^ Wilson, K. (1974). "Confinement of quarks". Physical Review D. 10 (8): 2445. Bibcode:1974PhRvD..10.2445W. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.10.2445.  ^ Ginsparg, P.; Wilson, K. (1982). "A remnant of chiral symmetry on the lattice". Physical Review D. 25 (10): 2649. Bibcode:1982PhRvD..25.2649G. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.25.2649. 

External links[edit]

Photograph, Biography and Bibliographic Resources, from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information, United States
United States
Department of Energy Kenneth G. Wilson Kenneth G. Wilson's Homepage (on Archive, the original at Ohio State University no longer exists) at the Wayback Machine
Wayback Machine
(archived July 3, 2007) Kenneth G. Wilson's brief CV, from Ohio State University
Ohio State University
(PDF file) Publications on ArXiv Wilson's Nobel Lecture Interview with Ken Wilson in 2002 Kadanoff, Leo P. (29 Jun 2013). "Kenneth Geddes Wilson, 1936-2013, An Appreciation". Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment. 2013: P10016. arXiv:1307.0152 . Bibcode:2013JSMTE..10..016K. doi:10.1088/1742-5468/2013/10/P10016.  Cardy, John (8 August 2013). "The Legacy of Ken Wilson". Journal of Statistical Mechanics: Theory and Experiment. 2013: P10002. arXiv:1308.1785 . Bibcode:2013JSMTE..10..002C. doi:10.1088/1742-5468/2013/10/P10002. 

v t e

Laureates of the Wolf Prize in Physics

1970s

Chien-Shiung Wu
Chien-Shiung Wu
(1978) George Uhlenbeck / Giuseppe Occhialini
Giuseppe Occhialini
(1979)

1980s

Michael Fisher / Leo Kadanoff
Leo Kadanoff
/ Kenneth G. Wilson (1980) Freeman Dyson
Freeman Dyson
/ Gerardus 't Hooft / Victor Weisskopf (1981) Leon M. Lederman
Leon M. Lederman
/ Martin Lewis Perl (1982) Erwin Hahn / Peter Hirsch / Theodore Maiman
Theodore Maiman
(1983–84) Conyers Herring / Philippe Nozières (1984–85) Mitchell Feigenbaum
Mitchell Feigenbaum
/ Albert J. Libchaber (1986) Herbert Friedman / Bruno Rossi
Bruno Rossi
/ Riccardo Giacconi
Riccardo Giacconi
(1987) Roger Penrose
Roger Penrose
/ Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking
(1988)

1990s

Pierre-Gilles de Gennes / David J. Thouless
David J. Thouless
(1990) Maurice Goldhaber
Maurice Goldhaber
/ Valentine Telegdi (1991) Joseph H. Taylor Jr. (1992) Benoît Mandelbrot (1993) Vitaly Ginzburg
Vitaly Ginzburg
/ Yoichiro Nambu
Yoichiro Nambu
(1994–95) John Wheeler (1996–97) Yakir Aharonov
Yakir Aharonov
/ Michael Berry (1998) Dan Shechtman
Dan Shechtman
(1999)

2000s

Raymond Davis Jr.
Raymond Davis Jr.
/ Masatoshi Koshiba
Masatoshi Koshiba
(2000) Bertrand Halperin
Bertrand Halperin
/ Anthony Leggett (2002–03) Robert Brout
Robert Brout
/ François Englert
François Englert
/ Peter Higgs
Peter Higgs
(2004) Daniel Kleppner (2005) Albert Fert
Albert Fert
/ Peter Grünberg
Peter Grünberg
(2006–07)

2010s

John F. Clauser / Alain Aspect
Alain Aspect
/ Anton Zeilinger
Anton Zeilinger
(2010) Maximilian Haider / Harald Rose
Harald Rose
/ Knut Urban (2011) Jacob Bekenstein
Jacob Bekenstein
(2012) Peter Zoller
Peter Zoller
/ Juan Ignacio Cirac (2013) James D. Bjorken / Robert P. Kirshner (2015) Yoseph Imry
Yoseph Imry
(2016) Michel Mayor
Michel Mayor
/ Didier Queloz
Didier Queloz
(2017) Charles H. Bennett / Gilles Brassard (2018)

Agriculture Arts Chemistry Mathematics Medicine Physics

v t e

Laureates of the Nobel Prize in Physics

1901–1925

1901 Röntgen 1902 Lorentz / Zeeman 1903 Becquerel / P. Curie / M. Curie 1904 Rayleigh 1905 Lenard 1906 J. J. Thomson 1907 Michelson 1908 Lippmann 1909 Marconi / Braun 1910 Van der Waals 1911 Wien 1912 Dalén 1913 Kamerlingh Onnes 1914 Laue 1915 W. L. Bragg / W. H. Bragg 1916 1917 Barkla 1918 Planck 1919 Stark 1920 Guillaume 1921 Einstein 1922 N. Bohr 1923 Millikan 1924 M. Siegbahn 1925 Franck / Hertz

1926–1950

1926 Perrin 1927 Compton / C. Wilson 1928 O. Richardson 1929 De Broglie 1930 Raman 1931 1932 Heisenberg 1933 Schrödinger / Dirac 1934 1935 Chadwick 1936 Hess / C. D. Anderson 1937 Davisson / G. P. Thomson 1938 Fermi 1939 Lawrence 1940 1941 1942 1943 Stern 1944 Rabi 1945 Pauli 1946 Bridgman 1947 Appleton 1948 Blackett 1949 Yukawa 1950 Powell

1951–1975

1951 Cockcroft / Walton 1952 Bloch / Purcell 1953 Zernike 1954 Born / Bothe 1955 Lamb / Kusch 1956 Shockley / Bardeen / Brattain 1957 C. N. Yang / T. D. Lee 1958 Cherenkov / Frank / Tamm 1959 Segrè / Chamberlain 1960 Glaser 1961 Hofstadter / Mössbauer 1962 Landau 1963 Wigner / Goeppert-Mayer / Jensen 1964 Townes / Basov / Prokhorov 1965 Tomonaga / Schwinger / Feynman 1966 Kastler 1967 Bethe 1968 Alvarez 1969 Gell-Mann 1970 Alfvén / Néel 1971 Gabor 1972 Bardeen / Cooper / Schrieffer 1973 Esaki / Giaever / Josephson 1974 Ryle / Hewish 1975 A. Bohr / Mottelson / Rainwater

1976–2000

1976 Richter / Ting 1977 P. W. Anderson / Mott / Van Vleck 1978 Kapitsa / Penzias / R. Wilson 1979 Glashow / Salam / Weinberg 1980 Cronin / Fitch 1981 Bloembergen / Schawlow / K. Siegbahn 1982 K. Wilson 1983 Chandrasekhar / Fowler 1984 Rubbia / Van der Meer 1985 von Klitzing 1986 Ruska / Binnig / Rohrer 1987 Bednorz / Müller 1988 Lederman / Schwartz / Steinberger 1989 Ramsey / Dehmelt / Paul 1990 Friedman / Kendall / R. Taylor 1991 de Gennes 1992 Charpak 1993 Hulse / J. Taylor 1994 Brockhouse / Shull 1995 Perl / Reines 1996 D. Lee / Osheroff / R. Richardson 1997 Chu / Cohen-Tannoudji / Phillips 1998 Laughlin / Störmer / Tsui 1999 't Hooft / Veltman 2000 Alferov / Kroemer / Kilby

2001– present

2001 Cornell / Ketterle / Wieman 2002 Davis / Koshiba / Giacconi 2003 Abrikosov / Ginzburg / Leggett 2004 Gross / Politzer / Wilczek 2005 Glauber / Hall / Hänsch 2006 Mather / Smoot 2007 Fert / Grünberg 2008 Nambu / Kobayashi / Maskawa 2009 Kao / Boyle / Smith 2010 Geim / Novoselov 2011 Perlmutter / Riess / Schmidt 2012 Wineland / Haroche 2013 Englert / Higgs 2014 Akasaki / Amano / Nakamura 2015 Kajita / McDonald 2016 Thouless / Haldane / Kosterlitz 2017 Weiss / Barish / Thorne

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 69013183 LCCN: n94026138 ISNI: 0000 0001 0858 335X GND: 1089697104 SUDOC: 033006245 BNF: cb123917349 (data) MGP: 22

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