Famous Dutch Physicists

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Physicists are involved with the physical aspects of the world. They study matter and related concepts and conduct research to know more about the physical phenomenon or natural science. Mostly, physicists deal with the general functioning and behaviour of the universe. Every country today has its own rich resource of physicists who through their research and experimentation have discovered various aspects of the physical world. Gravitational force, nuclear interactions, electromagnetism were unknown phenomena that were eventually perceived, explored and presented to the world by physicists. Physicists have conquered the various branches of physics, right from classical mechanics, quantum mechanics, theory of relativity and electromagnetism. Just like every other country in the world, Netherlands too has its own share of famous physicists who have greatly contributed to the better understanding of the subject. Right from Abraham Pais to Andre Geim, Pieter Zeeman to Frits Zernike, Paul Ehrenfest to Christian Hugyens, Dutch physicists have discovered and invented revolutionary concepts of the physical world. Browse through this section to know more about famous Dutch physicists.
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 1 
Christiaan Huygens
(Mathematician, Physicist)
Christiaan Huygens
7
Birthdate: April 14, 1629
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: The Hague, Netherlands
Died: July 8, 1695

From proposing the wave theory of light to discovering the actual shape of the rings of Saturn and inventing the pendulum clock, Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens had contributed a lot to science. Born to a diplomat, Huygens had the privilege of an elite education but remain sickly throughout his life.

 2 
Hendrik Lorentz
(Dutch Physicist and Winner of the 1902 Nobel Prize in Physics)
Hendrik Lorentz
4
Birthdate: July 18, 1853
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Arnhem, Netherlands
Died: February 4, 1928

Nobel Prize-winning Dutch physicist Hendrik Lorentz, a major figure of the Second Dutch Golden Age, is remembered for his discovery of the Zeeman effect, along with his former student Pieter Zeeman, who shared the Nobel with Lorentz. His research on electromagnetic radiation prepared ground for Einstein’s special theory of relativity.

 3 
Andre Geim
(Dutch-British Physicist Known for His Discovery of 'Graphene')
Andre Geim
4
Birthdate: October 21, 1958
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Sochi, Russia

Andre Geim is a Russian-born Dutch-British physicist. He has been associated with the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester for several years. In 2010, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics jointly with Konstantin Novoselov in recognition of his work on graphene. He is also a recipient of the 2000 Ig Nobel Prize in Physics. 

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 4 
Jan Ingenhousz
(Botanist, Physician, Physicist)
Jan Ingenhousz
3
Birthdate: December 8, 1730
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Breda
Died: September 7, 1799

The man who discovered photosynthesis, Jan Ingenhousz was born in the Netherlands but later settled in England. He is also remembered for his pioneering research on thermal conduction and the prevention of smallpox and even successfully inoculated the Habsburg family against smallpox. He was also Maria Theresa’s personal doctor.

 5 
Johannes van der Waals
(Theoretical Physicist)
Johannes van der Waals
3
Birthdate: November 23, 1837
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Leiden, Netherlands
Died: March 8, 1923
Nobel Prize-winning physicist Johannes Diderik van der Waals, born to a carpenter, was largely self-taught in his early days. His pathbreaking research on the gaseous and liquid states of matter influenced later studies on molecular dynamics. He was the man behind the van der Waals equation.
 6 
Gerard ’t Hooft
(Dutch Theoretical Physicist and Winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Physics)
Gerard ’t Hooft
4
Birthdate: July 5, 1946
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Den Helder, Netherlands

Gerard ’t Hooft is a Dutch theoretical physicist whose work focuses on black holes, gauge theory, quantum gravity, and quantum mechanics. In 1999, he shared the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physics with Martinus J. G. Veltman. Over the years, Gerard ’t Hooft has also received other prestigious awards, such as the Wolf Prize, Lorentz Medal, Spinoza Prize, and Franklin Medal.

 7 
Pieter Zeeman
(Discovered the 'Zeeman Effect')
Pieter Zeeman
2
Birthdate: May 25, 1865
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Zonnemaire, Netherlands
Died: October 9, 1943

Pieter Zeeman was a Dutch physicist whose discovery of the Zeeman effect earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in Physics in 1902, which he shared with Hendrik Lorentz. Over the course of his career, Zeeman received several other awards, such as the Matteucci Medal in 1912, Henry Draper Medal in 1921, Rumford Medal in 1922, and Franklin Medal in 1925.

 8 
Heike Kamerlingh Onnes
3
Birthdate: September 21, 1853
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Groningen, Netherlands
Died: February 21, 1926

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes is best remembered for his discovery of superconductivity and his research on low-temperature physics, which eventually led to the liquefaction of helium. He is also said to have coined the term enthalpy. The Kamerlingh Onnes Award, named after him, honors achievements in low-temperature science.

 9 
Wubbo Ockels
(Physicist)
Wubbo Ockels
2
Birthdate: March 28, 1946
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Almelo, Netherlands
Died: May 18, 2014
 10 
Abraham Pais
(Physicist)
Abraham Pais
2
Birthdate: May 19, 1918
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: July 28, 2000
 11 
Martinus J. G. Veltman
(Dutch Theoretical Physicist Who Shared the 1999 Nobel Prize in Physics for the Work on Particle Theory)
Martinus J. G. Veltman
2
Birthdate: June 27, 1931
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Waalwijk, Netherlands
Died: January 4, 2021

Martinus J. G. Veltman was a Dutch theoretical physicist whose work on particle theory alongside Gerardus 't Hooft earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in physics in 1999, which he shared with the latter. Veltman also wrote a book titled Facts and Mysteries in Elementary Particle Physics, which was published in 2003. The Asteroid 9492 Veltman is named after him.

 12 
Frits Zernike
(Physicist)
Frits Zernike
2
Birthdate: July 16, 1888
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: March 10, 1966

Nobel Prize-winning Dutch physicist Frits Zernike is remembered for his pathbreaking invention of the phase-contrast microscope, which did away with the need to stain cells and thus killing cells to study them. The Rumford Medal-winning scientist, born to math teacher parents, was inspired by his father’s love for physics.

 13 
Willem de Sitter
(Dutch Mathematician, Physicist, and Astronomer)
Willem de Sitter
1
Birthdate: May 6, 1872
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sneek, Netherlands
Died: November 20, 1934

Willem de Sitter was a Dutch physicist, mathematician, and astronomer. A respected figure, Willem de Sitter served as the director of the famous Leiden Observatory from 1919 to 1934. He worked alongside Albert Einstein and made important discoveries in the field of physical cosmology. He was the recipient of the James Craig Watson Medal, Bruce Medal, and Prix Jules Janssen. 

 14 
Simon van der Meer
1
Birthdate: November 24, 1925
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: The Hague
Died: March 4, 2011
 15 
Samuel Abraham Goudsmit
2
Birthdate: July 11, 1902
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: The Hague, Netherlands
Died: December 4, 1978
 16 
George Uhlenbeck
(Theoretical Physicist)
George Uhlenbeck
1
Birthdate: December 6, 1900
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Batavia, Dutch East Indies
Died: October 31, 1988
 17 
Pieter van Musschenbroek
(Dutch Mathematician and Physicist Who Discovered the Principle of the 'Leyden Jar')
Pieter van Musschenbroek
1
Birthdate: March 14, 1692
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Leiden, Netherlands
Died: September 19, 1761

Dutch physicist and mathematician Pieter van Musschenbroek is remembered for introducing the principle of the Leyden jar. He also taught at several universities. Born to an instrument maker, he initially studied medicine but later also focused on philosophy. He made pioneering contributions to tribology.

 18 
Hendrik Anthony Kramers
1
Birthdate: February 2, 1894
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: April 24, 1952
 19 
Tatyana Afanasyeva
(Former Mathematician, Physicist who made contributions to the fields of statistical mechanics and statistical thermodynamics)
Tatyana Afanasyeva
1
Birthdate: November 19, 1876
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kyiv, Ukraine
Died: April 14, 1964

Tatyana Afanasyeva was a physicist and mathematician best remembered for making important contributions to the fields of statistical thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. She is also known as the wife of Austrian physicist Paul Ehrenfest with whom she collaborated often. Tatyana Afanasyeva published several papers on various topics like entropy and randomness.

 20 
Willem Hendrik Keesom
0
Birthdate: June 21, 1876
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Texel, Netherlands
Died: March 24, 1956