June 20, 2013

Kenneth G. Wilson 1936-2013

My reaction is here:
During roughly the same time frame in which Wilson was doing his scaling-based work, Mandelbrot was formulating (and popularizing) fractals.

In my amateur opinion each was uninfluenced by, and possibly unaware of, the other’s progress. but in a sense they approached the same monolith from very different directions.
Maybe, in part, I did not make a post about Mandelbrot's passing because I prefer a researcher who sticks to his last to one who trumpets in self-promotion.

Even though Mandelbrot's flogging of fractals was arguably necessary to get the concept on the map, his (distinctive and undeniably important) work always struck me as a bit tainted by flakiness and not as deep as he pretended. Wilson, otoh, worked on very hard problems and a cheering section was needed to bring his work to wider attention which remained mostly restricted to the scientific community. Mandelbrot was his own cheering section.

Like commenter King Ray wrote at Woit's blog: Lightspeed, Kenneth Wilson.

No comments: