James L. Anderson, a theoretical physicist whose research helped validate some of Albert Einstein’s most important theories of the universe, died in Falmouth on December 1. He was 95 years old.
He died in his sleep from pneumonia, a complication of Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Anderson was born in Chicago. He attended the University of Chicago, then received his PhD in physics from Syracuse University. There he met Helene Masslo, a graduate student and later professor of Latin American literature. They married in 1950 and settled in New Jersey, where Dr. Anderson was a professor of physics at Stevens Institute of Technology until he retired. The family spent school years in Teaneck, New Jersey, and summers in Woods Hole, where Dr. Anderson was affiliated with the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics program of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
Dr. Anderson was fascinated with Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity and its relationship to quantum mechanics. He studied astrophysics, cosmology, fluid dynamics, gravitation, and plasma physics. In 1967 he published a textbook, “Principles of Relativity Physics.”
Dr. Anderson was an adventurer. He rafted down the Grand Canyon at the age of 75 and traveled widely with his wife, venturing as far as Africa, Australia, the Galapagos Islands, and India. He was a technophile, who built his own computers. He was intrigued by rare automobiles—he owned Citroëns, took an interest in electric vehicles, and visited an antique car exhibit on the last excursion of his life. He loved the natural world and animals—he once adopted (briefly) a street vendor’s monkey in Mexico City, which he and his wife named Pansy. He relished gourmet food and wine. He taught himself to play the clarinet and bassoon. He adored classical music, especially Wagnerian opera, which he sang with abandon. He was a trivia master and liked to solve the New York Times crossword puzzle in his head.
In addition to his wife, he leaves two children, David J. Anderson and Judith L. Masslo Anderson Armstrong; their spouses, Debra M. Anderson and John E.H. Armstrong; and extended family.
A memorial service will be held in Woods Hole next summer. He will be buried in the Woods Hole Village Cemetery.