From the Inbox:
One of my good memories from grad school days comes from a time in 1968 when I loaded up some fellow students and drove to another campus to spend an afternoon with Leo Kadanoff and take in his colloquium talk. I was impressed by the clarity of his talk and by his easy going manner. He spoke of his work on critical phenomena and described how fluid properties near a critical point could be described by a single parameter – a correlation length. At one point he showed a slide with some experimental data which agreed spectacularly well with the theory over several decades of variation of correlation length, but missed by a little nearest the critical point. He admitted to being disappointed by that but said that something better than his theory was needed because “it is difficult to make ony aÂ three percent conceptual error”. I can think of several areas of science in which some similar humility would be welcome these days.
A few months earlier a physics Nobel laureate had visited OU. His arrogance and Leo Kadanoff’s openness both made lasting impressions.
See also: Kadanoff: Information a primary topic of 21st C science. A tribute to his dissertation advisor Leo Kadanoff (1937–2015) from Bill Dembski