Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
Kenneth G. Wilson
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1982
Born: 8 June 1936, Waltham, MA, USA
Died: 15 June 2013, Saco, ME, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA
Prize motivation: "for his theory for critical phenomena in connection with phase transitions."
Prize share: 1/1
An accumulation of matter with uniform physical and chemical properties is said to be in a certain phase, such as solid, liquid or gas. There also are other phases, for example, when dealing with magnetism. A theoretical understanding of critical points for phase transitions requires a broad spectrum of scaling. Early attempts to explain this in one step led to infinities in the result. Kenneth Wilson solved the problem in 1971 through a type of renormalization, which can be described as solving the problem piece by piece.