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Philip Warren Anderson

Philip Warren Anderson

American physicist
Philip Warren Anderson
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American physicist
A.K.A. Philip Anderson
Is Scientist Physicist Educator
From United States of America
Type Academia Science
Gender male
Birth 13 December 1923, Indianapolis
Age 96 years
The details


Philip Warren Anderson (born December 13, 1923) is an American physicist and Nobel laureate. Anderson has made contributions to the theories of localization, antiferromagnetism, symmetry breaking, and high-temperature superconductivity, and to the philosophy of science through his writings on emergent phenomena.

Education and early life

Anderson was born in Indianapolis, Indiana and grew up in Urbana, Illinois. He graduated from University Laboratory High School in Urbana in 1940. Afterwards, he went to Harvard University for undergraduate and graduate work, with a wartime stint at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in-between. In graduate school he studied under John Hasbrouck van Vleck.

Career and research

From 1949 to 1984 he was employed by Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, where he worked on a wide variety of problems in condensed matter physics. During this period he developed what is now called Anderson localization (the idea that extended states can be localized by the presence of disorder in a system); invented the Anderson Hamiltonian, which describes the site-wise interaction of electrons in a transition metal; developed what is now called the "Higgs" mechanism for generating mass in elementary particles; created the pseudospin approach to the BCS theory of superconductivity; made seminal studies of non-s-wave pairing (both symmetry-breaking and microscopic mechanism) in the superfluidity of He3; and helped found the area of spin-glasses. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1963.

From 1967 to 1975, Anderson was a professor of theoretical physics at Cambridge University. In 1977 Anderson was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his investigations into the electronic structure of magnetic and disordered systems, which allowed for the development of electronic switching and memory devices in computers. Co-researchers Sir Nevill Francis Mott and John van Vleck shared the award with him. In 1982, he was awarded the National Medal of Science. He retired from Bell Labs in 1984 and is currently Joseph Henry Professor of Physics, Emeritus at Princeton University.

Anderson's writings include Concepts of Solids, Basic Notions of Condensed Matter Physics and The Theory of Superconductivity in the High-Tc Cuprates. Anderson currently serves on the board of advisors of Scientists and Engineers for America, an organization focused on promoting sound science in American government. He is a certified first degree-master of the Chinese board game Go.

Anderson has also made important conceptual contributions to the philosophy of science through his explication of emergent phenomena. In 1972 he wrote a now highly cited article called "More is Different" in which he emphasized the limitations of reductionism and the existence of hierarchical levels of science, each of which requires its own fundamental principles for advancement.

A 2006 statistical analysis of scientific research papers by José Soler, comparing number of references in a paper to the number of citations, declared Anderson to be the "most creative" amongst ten most cited physicists in the world.

Awards and honors

He was awarded the Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize in 1964, the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1977 and was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 1980. He was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1982.

Personal life

Anderson is an atheist and was one of 22 Nobel Laureates who signed the Humanist Manifesto.



  • Anderson, Philip W. (1954). Notes on theory of magnetism. Tokyo,: University of Tokyo. OCLC 782103851. 
  • Anderson, Philip W. (1997) [1963]. Concepts in solids: lectures on the theory of solids. Singapore River Edge, New Jersey: World Scientific. ISBN 9789810232313. 
  • Anderson, Philip W. (1997) [1984]. Basic notions of condensed matter physics. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley. ISBN 9780201328301. 
  • Anderson, Philip W.; Arrow, Kenneth J.; Pines, David, eds. (1988). The economy as an evolving complex system: the proceedings of the Evolutionary Paths of the Global Economy Workshop, held September, 1987 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Redwood City, California: Addison-Wesley Pub. Co. ISBN 9780201156850. 
  • Anderson, Philip W. (2004) [1994]. A career in theoretical physics. World Scientific Series in 20th Century Physics, volume 35. Singapore Hackensack, New Jersey: World Scientific Pub. Co. ISBN 9789812567154. 
  • Anderson, Philip W. (1997). The theory of superconductivity in the high-TC cuprates. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691043654. 
  • Anderson, Philip W. (2011). More and different notes from a thoughtful curmudgeon. Singapore Hackensack, New Jersey: World Scientific. ISBN 9789814350143. 

Journal articles

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