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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Kenneth Wilson

Physicist Kenneth Wilson, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1982 for "The Theory of Critical Phenomena in Connection with Phase Transitions", died in Maine (USA), on the 15th of June, at 77.
Wilson was in the Department of Physics at Cornell University, when he won the Nobel Prize for his investigation about the application of quantum physics to phase transitions, transformation that occurs when a substance changes, eg, from liquid to gas. Wilson created a mathematical "tool" called renormalization group (RG) which is widely used in physics.
The RG allows the systematic investigation of the changes in a physical system, as seen in different scales. In particle physics, it reflects changes in underlying laws of force (coded in a quantum field theory), as the energy scale in physical processes that occur in variable length scale, energy / momentum, effectively combined under the principle of uncertainty.
Its importance can be seen in this example:
In quantum electrodynamics (QED), the internal structure of an electron (electron) appears to be composed of an electron (electron), a positron (positron) and a photon (photon), as we see in very short distances (eg . in particle accelerators). The electron in such short distances has a slightly different electrical charge than the electron (electron) seen at great distances, and this change in the value of the electric charge is determined by the renormalization group equation.
Initially applied to particle physics, nowadays the RG extends its use to Solid State Physics, the Fluid Mechanics, Cosmology and Nanotechnology.
Some interesting reading (click):

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