Wilson did his prizewinning work on phase transitions while at Cornell.
Second-order phase transitions of matter take place at characteristic
temperatures (or pressures), but unlike first-order transitions they
occur throughout the entire volume of a material as soon as that temperature
(called the critical point) is reached. One example of such a transition
is the complete loss of ferromagnetic properties of certain metals when
they are heated to their Curie points (about 750 C for iron). Wilson's
work provided a mathematical strategy for constructing theories that
could apply to physical systems near the critical point. From 1988 Wilson
taught at Ohio State University.
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