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Profile Detail

Bryon D. Anderson

Emeritus Professor


Professor Anderson teaches physics at all levels from introductory classes for non-science majors to graduate-level courses. He was Planetarium Director at Kent State University from 1979 to 1996, and was Assistant Chair much of the time from 1996 to 2007 and Chair from 2007 till 2010.  He is now Emeritus Professor in the Department of Physics. His research is in experimental nuclear physics.

Professor Anderson is co-author, together with Emeritus Professor Nathan Spielberg, of the popular textbook entitled Seven Ideas that Shook the Universe, published by John Wiley. This text is primarily intended for non-science majors and uses only some algebra and very simple trigonometry to explain the development of physics from Aristotle to Einstein. This book has been used in a popular course of the same title at Kent State for over 25 years and has been used also in a number of other universities for similar courses.

Professor Anderson's "other" interests in physics include the physics of sailing and he has written an introductory book on this subject published in 2003, entitled The Physics of Sailing Explained, or see his talk.


B.S. (Physics), U. of Idaho, 1966; Ph.D. (Physics), Case Western Reserve U., 1972.

Positions Held:

Case Western Reserve U., NSF Fellow, 1968 - 71; California Institute of Technology, Postdoctoral Research Associate, 1971-73; Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, Senior Postdoctoral Research Associate, 1973-75; Assistant Professor, 1975-80, Associate Professor, 1980-85, Professor, 1985-2010, Professor Emeritus, 2010-present, Kent State University.

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Publications from Spires Database

The research of Professor Anderson and his students is concerned with studies of the
nature of the nuclear force and of the internal structure of nucleons (protons and neutrons). Professor Anderson is part of the experimental nuclear physics users group at Kent. He has performed experiments at more than 15 different accelerator laboratories in the U.S. and other countries. This research includes   studies of nuclear structure and nuclear reaction mechanisms. He is author, or co-author, on more than 250 papers in journals of nuclear physics. His recent research is centered around experiments performed at the Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (JLab) in Virginia.

An experiment performed at JLab was designed to measure the charge distribution inside the neutron. Although the neutron is overall neutral, it has a positive core surrounded by a negative outer layer. The precise determination of this distribution provides one of the best tests presently available of models of the nucleon. These models include quark models, soliton models, and others. A precise determination of this charge distribution was not possible until recent developments in both accelerator facilities and nuclear detectors. Several measurements of this distribution are being performed world-wide. The measurement performed at JLab involved using a high-energy polarized beam of electrons incident upon a liquid deuterium target and detecting the scattered electron and knock-out neutron in coincidence. The polarization (spin direction) of the emitted neutron was measured using a neutron polarimeter developed at Kent State. This polarimeter consisted of 44 large-volume plastic-scintillation detectors arranged in 20 "front" scatterers and 24 "rear" detectors. This polarimeter is shown in the figure below.  The experiment was successful and the analyses of the data obtained was the basis of the Ph.D. dissertations of two students at Kent State.  These studies are continuuing with new  experiments to be performed at the Jefferson National Accelerator Laboratory.  These experiments will provide a more detailed mapping of the charge distribution inside the neutron and improved tests of models of the internal dynamics of the nucleon.


The neutron polarimeter used at Jefferson National Accelerator Laboratory.

Research Areas
  • Experimental Nuclear Physics
Bryon D. Anderson
Department of Physics