• Kenneth Wilson, noted New England physicist
    By
     | June 21,2013
     

    SACO, Maine — Kenneth Wilson, a physicist who earned a Nobel prize for pioneering work that changed the way physicists think about phase transitions, has died in Maine. He was 77.

    Wilson, who died from complications of lymphoma, was in the physics department at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., when he won the Nobel Prize in 1982 for applying his research in quantum physics to phase transitions, the transformation that occurs when a substance goes from, say, liquid to gas. Wilson created a mathematical tool called the renormalization group that is still used in physics.

    The son of a Harvard chemist, the Waltham, Mass., native joined Cornell University in 1963 and later retired from Ohio State University, where he founded the Physics Education Research Group.

    His wife, Alison Brown, still recalls the morning they learned of the Nobel Prize. She told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she eventually had to take the phone off the hook so her husband could finish his breakfast.

    Wilson loved to talk physics, she said.

    “He was very patient and willing to explain things to people. He never talked down to people and made them feel like they were dumb,” Brown said. “He was a kind person. He had a good way of wanting to explain what he was doing, because he always loved what he was doing.”

    Wilson also was an avid hiker who enjoyed treks in Swiss Alps and Italian Dolomites, as well as couple’s personal favorite, the mountains of New Zealand.

    Wilson didn’t talk much during the hikes because he was busy working out problems, his wife said.

    “His brain was still turning over. He was cogitating on whatever problem he was working on,” she said.

    MORE IN Wire News
    HALIFAX, Nova Scotia — An Air Canada plane made a hard landing short of the runway at the Halifax... Full Story
    Air Canada plane makes hard landing
    NEW YORK — Emergency workers found a body Sunday in the mass of rubble left behind by an apparent... Full Story
    Police: Body found 3 days after NYC blast
    INDIANAPOLIS — Hundreds of people, some carrying signs reading “no hate in our state,” gathered... Full Story
    Hundreds rally against new Indiana law
    More Articles
  •  
     
    • MEDIA GALLERY 
    • VIDEOS
    • PHOTOS