Nobel Prize Award for Physics 1977

About the Nobel Prize Award for Physics 1977 including the scientists Mott and Anderson, their works, and history.


1977 John Hasbrouck Van Vleck (1899- ), American

Philip W. Anderson (1924- ), American

Sir Nevill Francis Mott (1905- ), British

Work: Laid many of the theoretical foundations of modern electronic circuitry and solid-state physics, which were central in the development of computer memories, lasers, transistors, solar energy cells, and office copying machines

Nobel Laureates: Van Vleck was born in Middletown, Conn. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1920, he went to Harvard for graduate school and never left. He is now professor emeritus of mathematics and natural philosophy at Harvard. For his own amusement, he once memorized the train schedules of 30 major European and American railroads, and even today he amazes people by telling them instantly how to get from one place to another by train.

Anderson was born in Indianapolis. He has been working as a researcher at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J., since 1949. He joined the faculty of Princeton University in 1975. Anderson remains a reclusive man who lives in New Jersey's Great Swamp and spends much of his time hiking.

Mott served in British intelligence during W.W. II, as an expert on Nazi rocketry. He was still a young man, in the 1930s, when he taught physics at Bristol University and laid the groundwork for modern solid-state physics. In the late 1940s he was the outspoken president of the British Atomic Scientists Association, and he later served as the head of Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory. He is an ardent photographer and coin collector.

Nobel Lore: What directed them to their professions? A calling? Van Vleck chose his life's work because "my father was a mathematician, so I didn't want to go into that, and I couldn't pronounce French, so I went into physics." Anderson first tried his hand at being a radio engineer, but he was too clumsy at manipulating delicately wired circuits.

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