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.
Seventeenth-century Dutch scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, also known as the Father of Microbiology, is remembered as a pioneer of microscopy. His contribution to microbiology included the discovery of spermatozoa, bacteria, and muscle fibers. Though he had not authored any book, his letters to the Royal Society were later published.
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.
A pioneering computer scientist from the Netherlands, Edsger W. Dijkstra had initially studied theoretical physics, before focusing on computers. He developed the domain of structured programming and also won honors such as the Turing Award. He died at 72, after a long struggle with cancer.
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.
Gerard Kuiper was blessed with an unusually sharp eyesight and could see stars clearly with the naked eye. The Dutch-born scientist later moved to the U.S., where he established the University of Arizona’s LPL. He also initiated research on the belt of comets surrounding the Sun, known as the Kuiper belt.
Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff was a Dutch physical chemist best remembered for winning the first Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Van 't Hoff's work helped found the modern theory of chemical thermodynamics, chemical kinetics, chemical equilibrium, and chemical affinity. A highly popular theoretical chemist, Van 't Hoff is also counted among the founders of physical chemistry.
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.
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.
Nikolaas Tinbergen was a Dutch ornithologist and biologist. Counted among the founders of modern ethology, Tinbergen shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1973 with Konrad Lorenz and Karl von Frisch for their discoveries concerning the social behavior patterns in animals. He is also credited with authoring an influential book on animal behavior titled The Study of Instinct.
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.
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.
Simon Stevin was a Flemish physicist, mathematician, and military engineer. He is best remembered for his contributions to various fields of science and engineering. Simon Stevin is also credited with several discoveries and inventions. He pioneered the practical application of surveying and hydraulic engineering.
Jan Oort was a Dutch astronomer whose ground-breaking discoveries revolutionized astronomy. Widely regarded as one of the 20th century's greatest astronomers, Jan Oort's work helped understand the Milky Way. He also pioneered radio astronomy and was honored with several prestigious awards like the Bruce Medal, Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, Janssen Medal, and Prix Jules Janssen.
Willebrord Snell was a Dutch mathematician and astronomer. He is credited with rediscovering the law of refraction, which is named Snell's law in his honor. A much-revered mathematician in the Netherlands, Willebrord Snell was honored by the Royal Netherlands Navy by naming three of its survey ships after him. Snellius, a lunar crater, is also named in his honor.
Nobel Prize-winning Dutch atmospheric chemist Paul J. Crutzen had initially been a civil engineer and a computer programmer. He is remembered for his contribution to research on the ozone layer. In 2000, he used the term Anthropocene to describe the current era where human action has been changing the planet.
Best remembered for introducing the concepts of the fixed-point theorem and mathematical intuitionism, Dutch mathematician L. E. J. Brouwer was dragged into a controversy when he opposed David Hilbert’s formalism. He was also interested in philosophy and penned volumes such as Life, Art, and Mysticism.
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.
Dutch naturalist Jan Swammerdam was the first to detect red blood cells. Though a qualified doctor, he never practiced medicine, and took to research instead. Known for his research on anatomy, he also revolutionized the study of insects, proving that the egg, larva, pupa, and adult are all the same organism.
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.
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.
Nobel Prize-winning Dutch physician and pathologist Christiaan Eijkman was the first to prove that poor diet is the cause of the disease beriberi, which in turn led to the discovery of vitamins. While he initially worked in the Dutch East Indies, he later collaborated with Robert Koch in his Berlin laboratory.
Gemma Frisius introduced the triangulation method for map-making, that is still an integral part of surveys these days. He also created detailed globes and mathematical instruments and was a co-founder of the Netherlandish school of cartography. He also released the first published drawing of a pinhole camera obscura.
Marion Koopmans is a Dutch virologist whose research considers noroviruses, emerging infectious diseases, and veterinary medicine. A respected virologist, Koopmans is part of the World Health Organization's scientific advisory group. Over the years, she has been honored with several prestigious awards, including the Machiavelli Prize. Currently, Marion Koopmans is working to understand the spread of Covid-19 disease.
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.
Jacobus Cornelius Kapteyn was a Dutch astronomer best remembered for his studies of the Milky Way. He proved the existence of galactic rotation and was also among the first astronomers to talk about the existence of dark matter as early as 1922. Over the course of his career, Kapteyn was honored with many awards like the James Craig Watson Medal.
Franciscus Sylvius was a Dutch scientist and physician. He is credited with establishing the first academic chemical laboratory in 1669. He is also credited with founding the Iatrochemical School of Medicine. Many of Franciscus Sylvius' students like Reinier de Graaf, Jan Swammerdam, and Niels Stensen went on to become notable personalities in their respective fields.
Reinier de Graaf was a Dutch physician, anatomist, and physiologist. He is credited with making important discoveries in reproductive biology. De Graaf, who specialized in iatrogenesis and iatrochemistry, was the first to develop a syringe. He did so to inject dye into the reproductive organs of the human body to understand their structure and function.
Thomas Jan Stieltjes was a Dutch mathematician who contributed immensely to the study of continued fractions, for which he was honored by the French Academy of Sciences with the prestigious Ormoy Prize. A pioneer in the study of moment problems, Thomas Jan Stieltjes also worked diligently on number theory and analysis.
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.
John Goodricke was an English astronomer best remembered for his observations of the Demon Star in 1782. The following year, he was honored with the prestigious Copley Medal for his work. In 1786, John Goodricke was made a member of the Royal Society.
A renowned professor of Leiden University, Dutch astronomer Alexander Ollongren has also taught at Yale. Born in the Dutch East Indies, he spent his childhood in Japanese internment camps after the Japanese occupation, before moving to the Netherlands. He has also been associated with SETI.
Tatyana Pavlovna Ehrenfest was a Dutch mathematician best remembered for her contributions to low-discrepancy sequences, De Bruijn sequences, and the BEST theorem. Tatyana Pavlovna Ehrenfest was the daughter of famous physicists, Paul Ehrenfest and Tatyana Alexeyevna Afanasyeva.
Dutch-American astronomer, teacher, and lecturer Bartholomeus Jan "Bart" Bok is best remembered for working on the structure and evolution of the Milky Way galaxy, and for discovering the isolated and relatively small dark nebulae called Bok globules. Bok and his astronomer wife Priscilla Fairfield collaborated closely on their astronomical work and co-authored the widely acclaimed book The Milky Way.