Rome: American Physical Society, 1972. 1st Edition. FIRST EDITIONS IN ORIGINAL WRAPPERS OF THE THREE IMPORTANT PAPERS which led to Kenneth G. Wilson’s 1982 Nobel Prize “for his theory of critical phenomena in connection with phase transitions” (Nobel Prize Portal). Referring to Wilson’s Nobel Prize winning work, the physicist Steven Weinberg wrote: “Ken Wilson was one of a very small number of physicists who changed the way we all think, not just about specific phenomena, but about a vast range of different phenomena” (New York Times Obituary).
“A phase transition is the transformation of a thermodynamic system from one phase or state of matter (i.e., solid, liquid, gas, plasma) to another” (History of Physics: The Wenner Collection). While there are also other phases (for example dealing with magnetism), an “accumulation of matter with uniform physical and chemical properties is said to be in a certain phase, such as solid, liquid or gas” (Nobel Prize Portal).
A broad spectrum of scaling is required for a theoretical understanding of critical points for phase transitions. Specifically, all phase transitions necessitate that “their effects be measured on distance scales covering a range of a billion to one.
“Analyzing critical phenomena across such multiple scales was an intractable problem until American physicist Leo P. Kadanoff demonstrated that they could be understood in terms of two factors: “scaling” and “universality” (key notions behind the renormalization group), and applied this technique to create the “block spin renormalization group” (Wenner).
“Dr. Wilson realized that such “scaling” was intrinsic to the problems in phase transitions. In a series of papers in the early 1970s [these three papers], [Wilson built on Kadanoff’s work and] he applied the renormalization idea to show how the critical phenomena could be solved by dividing the problem up into simpler pieces, so that what was happening at the melting point, for example, could be considered on one scale at a time.
“[His] results showed that many seemingly unrelated systems — from magnets to liquids — could exhibit the same characteristic behavior as they approached the critical point” (NYT). The concept proved to be of wide relevance in physics and Wilson was awarded the 1982 Nobel Prize. Item #703
CONDITION & DETAILS: Three complete issues in original wraps. New York: American Physical Society. Quarto (10.25 x 7.50 inches; 256 x 188mm). Barely visible library stamps on the front wrappers (see photos), address labels on the rear wrappers of two of the issues. Archivally rebacked at the spine and without any other library markings. All three and very clean. Very good + condition (all three).