Physics of Scale Activities

Alexander Z. Patashinski


Russian physicist. He studied a the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, where he majored in physical engineering. Subsequently, Patashinski pursued graduate studies in high energy physics at the Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics, under guidance from Lev Landau. Patashinski defended his thesis in 1963. Following Landau’s lead, Patashinski and his collaborators labored to explain quasi-classical scattering in three dimensions. They investigated how mean field theory breaks down near the point of a phase transition. In 1963 and ‘64, with Valery Pokrovsky, Patashinskii, demonstrated that to describe a phase transition one needs the full set of correlation functions (in later terms, that there is no sorting procedure by which to isolate a main contribution to a partition function from Feynman-Matsubara diagrams), because all graphs are of the same order and therefore all must be added together. They claimed a self-similarity of fluctuations at different scales. This result constituted a violation of the thermodynamic theory of fluctuations. Their complicated arguments were met with immediate opposition from Alexei Abrikosov, and others. They had also tried to calculate critical exponents ("indices"). Their first scaling solution would be correct in supersymmetric theories but not in normal field theory. In 1964 they also conjectured that a phase transition in a superconductor is equivalent to that of a Bose-fluid. In 1965, Patashinskii and Pokrovsky presented phenomenological connections between correlation functions and scaling exponents. They identified analogies between field theory and the description of phase transitions, trying to ascertain anomalous dimensions. They clearly stated that certain correlation functions are scale invariant. Like Kadanoff and Benjamin Widom, independently, Pokrovsky and Patashinskii generalized the theory of scaling though leaving critical indices undetermined. In 1968 Patashinski defended his Doctorate’s dissertation on scaling. He subsequently worked on the theory of turbulence and other subjects.

Alexander Z. Patashinski is Research Professor at the Materials Research Center of Northwestern University, in Evanston, Illinois. He was a longtime senior staff member at the Budker Nuclear Physics Institute in Novosibirsk.

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