Starting from Square One

The intricate behaviors of quarks may finally yield to calculation

By Peter Weiss, 15:51 PM April 15, 2008

Quarks are the smaller-than-a-proton particles without which there would be no stars, dogs, or breakfast burritos. In 1986, after a dozen frustrating years of trying to find ways of using computers to calculate properties of quark-containing entities such as protons and neutrons, Kenneth G. Wilson threw in the towel at a physics meeting. Wilson, who had already won a Nobel prize for previous work in another branch of physics, had been trying to make realistic predictions using the mathematic...

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