Philip Warren Anderson 5 Replies Philip Warren Anderson, the Joseph Henry Professor of Physics, Emeritus, died March 29, 2020
One day in the fall of 1985, I sent Phil a note on a preprint about heavy fermions, a research project Phil had assigned to me for my PhD thesis. In the note I misspelled “Fermi Sea” as “Fermi See”. Phil circled the word “See” and noted on the side margin: “I didn’t know Fermi was a Bishop.”
There is no doubt in my mind Phil was the Pope of Condensed Matter Physics. We lost the Pope. RIP, Phil
I can still remember the first time I heard of Phil Anderson, many years ago when I was covering bizarre-sounding physics for Nature and New Scientist. The legendary Phil Anderson at Princeton. I was so excited when he agreed to give me an interview.
I was thrilled when I was hired to be a research communicator at Princeton many years later and got the chance to write more about his life and accomplishments.
The condensed matter master :)
Phil was a beloved teacher to us. I cannot forget all the notes with hand drawn light bulbs indicating he has a brilliant new idea in my graduate student mailbox, exclaiming “come see me!”, albeit most explanations of his newfound ideas would come to a grinding halt. He taught us how to read physics papers, that is skipping to the experimental data and graphs part at the end before being tricked by the beautiful theoreticao explanations in the front. And that is how we learned to examine the world till this day. His open mindedness also encouraged a lot of us to work on models outside theoretical physics at a time physics was slow and high Tc hurt rather than helped young people’s careers. He will be greatly missed.
As a young mathematician just starting my career at Bell Laboratories, my (very pregnant) wife and I spent a semester at Phil’s house while he was at Cambridge. I thought this was a swell way to start a job, house-sitting in Basking Ridge for a fellow Labs employee. This is he way life should be!