Talk by Leo Kadanoff – Niels Bohr Institute - University of Copenhagen

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Talk by Leo Kadanoff

Abstract: In present-day physics, the renormalization method, as developed by Kenneth G. Wilson, serves as the primary means for constructing the connections between theories at different length scales. This method is rooted in both particle physics and the theory of phase transitions. It was developed to supplement mean field theories like those developed by van der Waals and Maxwell, followed by Landau.

Leo P. Kadanoff

Sharp phase transitions are necessarily connected with singularities in statistical mechanics, which in turn require infinite systems for their realization. (I call this result the extended singularity theorem.) A discussion of this point apparently marked a 1937 meeting in Amsterdam celebrating van der Waals.
Mean field theories neither demand nor employ spatial infinities in their descriptions of phase transitions. Another theory is required that weds a breaking of internal symmetries with a proper description of spatial infinities. The renormalization (semi-)group provides such a wedding. Its nature is described. The major ideas surrounding this point of view are described including especially scaling, universality, and the development of connections among different theories.

About the speaker: After receiving his PhD from Harvard University in 1960, Leo Kadanoff became a post doc with Niels Bohr in Copenhagen. Since then, for a period of 40 year, he has been among the leading physicists in the world in the development of modern physics. He has made seminal and important contributions to a large number of problems in modern physics, in particular on phase transitions and critical phenomena and in the theory for chaos and complex systems. In many cases, discoveries by Leo Kadanoff have initiated completely new activities and developments in physics worldwide.
Leo Kadanoff has in Chicago created an excellent school in physics for graduate students and post docs, a school that is world famous.
He has received many prizes and honors.