Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wilson and effective field theory

The death of Kenneth G. Wilson has brought attention to effective field theory. Sean M. Carroll explains:
But it might be fun to just do a general discussion of the idea of “effective field theory,” which is crucial to modern physics and owes a lot of its present form to Wilson’s work.
Quantum gravity gets a lot of research attention based on the supposed contradiction between general relativity and quantum mechanics, and the failure to find a fully renormalizable theory. But there is a perfectly good effective field theory, and no problems at any observable energy scale. A lot of big-shot physicists tell us that there must be a better theory somewhere, but there is no scientific reason for believing that any theory will be better than what we have, or that experiment will ever validate such a theory.

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