Philip Warren Anderson

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Philip Warren Anderson
Born (1923-12-13) December 13, 1923 (age 98)
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Nationality United States
Fields Physics
Institutions Bell Laboratories
Princeton University
Cambridge University
Alma mater Harvard University
U.S. Naval Research Laboratory
Doctoral advisor John Hasbrouck van Vleck
Known for
Notable awards

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.[2][3][4][5][6]

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.[7][8][9][10][11][12][13] He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1963.[14]

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.[15]

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.[16]

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.[17]



  • Anderson, Philip W. (1954). Notes on theory of magnetism. Tokyo,: University of Tokyo. OCLC 782103851.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Anderson, Philip W. (1997) [1963]. Concepts in solids: lectures on the theory of solids. Singapore River Edge, New Jersey: World Scientific. ISBN 9789810232313.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Anderson, Philip W. (1997) [1984]. Basic notions of condensed matter physics. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley. ISBN 9780201328301.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Book details.
  • 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Anderson, Philip W. (1997). The theory of superconductivity in the high-TC cuprates. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 9780691043654.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Anderson, Philip W. (2011). More and different notes from a thoughtful curmudgeon. Singapore Hackensack, New Jersey: World Scientific. ISBN 9789814350143.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Journal articles

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.[1] He was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1982.

Personal life

Anderson is an atheist[18] and was one of 22 Nobel Laureates who signed the Humanist Manifesto.[19]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Professor Philip Anderson ForMemRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2015-11-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Horgan, J. (1994) Profile: Philip W. Anderson – Gruff Guru of Condensed Matter Physics, Scientific American 271(5), 34-35.
  3. Anderson, P.W. (1997). THE Theory of Superconductivity in High-T_{\rm c} Cuprates. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-04365-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Anderson, P.W. (1997). Basic Notions of Condensed Matter Physics. Reading: Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-32830-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Anderson, P.W. (1998). Concepts in Solids: Lectures on the Theory of Solids. Singapore: World Scientific. ISBN 981-02-3231-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Bernstein, Jeremy (1987). Three degrees above zero: Bell Laboratories in the information age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-32983-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Philip W. Anderson (1988). "Spin Glass I: A Scaling Law Rescued". Physics Today 41(1), 9 (1988).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Philip W. Anderson (1988). "Spin Glass II: Is There a Phase Transition?". Physics Today 41(3), 9 (1988).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Philip W. Anderson (1988). "Spin Glass III: Theory Raises its Head". Physics Today 41(6), 9 (1988).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Philip W. Anderson (1988). "Spin Glass IV: Glimmerings of Trouble". Physics Today 41(9), 9 (1988).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Philip W. Anderson (1989). "Spin Glass V: Real Power Brought to Bear". Physics Today 42(7), 9 (1989).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Philip W. Anderson (1989). "Spin Glass VI: Spin Glass As Cornucopia". Physics Today 42(9), 9 (1989).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Philip W. Anderson (1990). "Spin Glass VII: Spin Glass as Paradigm". Physics Today 43(3), 9 (1990).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 18 April 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Anderson's Princeton web page
  16. Anderson, P.W. (1972). "More is Different" (PDF). Science. 177 (4047): 393–396. Bibcode:1972Sci...177..393A. doi:10.1126/science.177.4047.393. PMID 17796623.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. A Rational Indicator of Scientific Creativity, José M. Soler, 2006.
  18. Philip W. Anderson (2011). "Imaginary Friend, Who Art in Heaven". More and Different: Notes from a Thoughtful Curmudgeon. World Scientific. p. 177. ISBN 9789814350129. We atheists can, as he does, argue that, with the modern revolution in attitudes toward homosexuals, we have become the only group that may not reveal itself in normal social discourse.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "Notable Signers". Humanism and Its Aspirations. American Humanist Association. Retrieved September 15, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links