Famous Dutch Scientists

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Did you know that the Dutch are at the top of the trade when it comes to inventions and discoveries? While some of you may agree, for those who wane off the fact here are some eye-opening facts for you. The modernized mercury thermometer that you use today for checking temperature was invented by a Dutch scientist, Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit. While making a chocolate cake/muffin, what is that one inevitable ingredient that you cannot do away with? Cocoa powder, isn’t it? Yet again a Dutch finding which laid the foundation for the modern day chocolate industry! The bulls and the bears of the stock exchange often determine our assets and liabilities. But did you where did it all begun? Yes, Amsterdam it is. The Dutch merchants are credited for founding the first official, fully-fledged stock exchange. Do you know Vic Hayes, the father of WiFi was a Dutch? The central banking system that has become an inseparable part of our lives was first conceptualized and brought into practice in Netherland. And for music lovers, the hardcore techno that is one of the significant subgenres of electronic dance music was initially designed in Netherlands. However, these are just a handful of the numerous inventions made by Dutch scientists. Check this section and find out in details about the life and works of famous Dutch scientists.
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 1 
Antonie van Leeuwenhoek
4
Birthdate: October 24, 1632
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Delft, Netherlands
Died: August 26, 1723

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.

 2 
Christiaan Huygens
(Mathematician, Physicist)
Christiaan Huygens
16
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.

 3 
Guido van Rossum
(Dutch Programmer Known for Creating the 'Python' Programming Language)
Guido van Rossum
10
Birthdate: January 31, 1956
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Haarlem, Netherlands
Dutch programmer Guido van Rossum is known as the inventor of the Python programming language. He has also worked with Google and Dropbox earlier. In November 2020, he announced he announced his decision to join the Developer Division of Microsoft. He has won several honors, such as the NLUUG Award.
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 4 
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.

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 5 
Edsger W. Dijkstra
(Dutch Mathematician and Computer Scientist Best Known for His Shortest-Path Algorithm in Graph Theory)
Edsger W. Dijkstra
9
Birthdate: May 11, 1930
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: August 6, 2002

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.

 6 
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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 7 
Gerard Kuiper
(Dutch Astronomer, Planetary Scientist, Selenographer, Author and Professor)
Gerard Kuiper
3
Birthdate: December 7, 1905
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Tuitjenhorn, Netherlands
Died: December 23, 1973

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.

 8 
Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff
(Dutch Physical Chemist Known for Work on Rates of Chemical Reaction, Chemical Equilibrium, and Osmotic Pressure)
Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff
3
Birthdate: August 30, 1852
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: March 1, 1911

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.

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 9 
Jan Ingenhousz
(Botanist, Physician, Physicist)
Jan Ingenhousz
4
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.

 10 
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.
 11 
Gerard ’t Hooft
3
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.

 12 
Nikolaas Tinbergen
(Ornithologist)
Nikolaas Tinbergen
3
Birthdate: April 15, 1907
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: The Hague, Netherlands
Died: December 21, 1988

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.

 13 
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.

 14 
Paul Ehrenfest
(He made major contributions to the field of statistical mechanics and its relations)
Paul Ehrenfest
3
Birthdate: January 18, 1880
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: September 25, 1933

Paul Ehrenfest was an Austrian-Dutch theoretical physicist. A close associate of Albert Einstein, whom he had met during his visit to Prague in 1912, Ehrenfest frequently hosted Einstein in Leiden where he was serving as a professor. Paul Ehrenfest is best remembered for his work in the field of statistical mechanics.

 15 
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.

 16 
Hugo de Vries
(Botanist, Biologist, Geneticist, University teacher)
Hugo de Vries
4
Birthdate: February 16, 1848
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Haarlem
Died: May 21, 1935
 17 
Simon Stevin
(mathematician, engineer, military personnel)
Simon Stevin
3
Birthdate: 1548 AD
Birthplace: Bruges
Died: January 31, 1620

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. 

 18 
Jan Oort
(Astronomer, Scientist, University teacher)
Jan Oort
3
Birthdate: April 28, 1900
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Franeker
Died: November 5, 1992

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.

 19 
Martinus Beijerinck
(Microbiologist)
Martinus Beijerinck
4
Birthdate: March 16, 1851
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: January 1, 1931
 20 
Bernard Feringa
(Organic Chemist)
Bernard Feringa
3
Birthdate: May 18, 1951
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Barger-Compascuum, Netherlands
 21 
Paul J. Crutzen
(Dutch Meteorologist, Atmospheric Chemist and Winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry)
Paul J. Crutzen
3
Birthdate: December 3, 1933
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: January 28, 2021

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.

 22 
Willebrord Snell
(Astronomer & Mathematician)
Willebrord Snell
3
Birthdate: June 13, 1580
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Leiden, Dutch Republic
Died: October 30, 1626

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.

 23 
L. E. J. Brouwer
(One of the Greatest Mathematicians of the 20th Century and Founder of Modern Topology)
L. E. J. Brouwer
2
Birthdate: February 27, 1881
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Overschie, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: December 2, 1966

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.

 24 
Wubbo Ockels
(Physicist)
Wubbo Ockels
2
Birthdate: March 28, 1946
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Almelo, Netherlands
Died: May 18, 2014
 25 
Herman Boerhaave
(Botanist, Physician)
Herman Boerhaave
3
Birthdate: December 31, 1668
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Voorhout, Netherlands
Died: September 23, 1738
 26 
Abraham Pais
(Physicist)
Abraham Pais
2
Birthdate: May 19, 1918
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: July 28, 2000
 27 
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.

 28 
Joep Lange
(Medical researcher)
Joep Lange
5
Birthdate: September 25, 1954
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Nieuwenhagen, Netherlands
Died: July 17, 2014
 29 
Willem de Sitter
(Dutch Mathematician, Physicist, and Astronomer)
Willem de Sitter
2
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. 

 30 
Jan Swammerdam
(Dutch Biologist and Microscopist Who Was the First to Observe and Describe 'Red Blood Cells')
Jan Swammerdam
2
Birthdate: February 12, 1637
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: February 17, 1680

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.

 31 
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.

 32 
Marion Koopmans
(Virologist)
Marion Koopmans
2
Birthdate: September 21, 1956
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Tegelen

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.

 33 
Christiaan Eijkman
2
Birthdate: August 11, 1858
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Nijkerk
Died: November 5, 1930

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.

 34 
Simon van der Meer
2
Birthdate: November 24, 1925
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: The Hague
Died: March 4, 2011
 35 
Gemma Frisius
(Physician)
Gemma Frisius
2
Birthdate: December 9, 1508
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dokkum, Netherlands
Died: May 25, 1555

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.

 36 
Samuel Abraham Goudsmit
2
Birthdate: July 11, 1902
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: The Hague, Netherlands
Died: December 4, 1978
 37 
George Uhlenbeck
(Theoretical Physicist)
George Uhlenbeck
2
Birthdate: December 6, 1900
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Batavia, Dutch East Indies
Died: October 31, 1988
 38 
Pieter van Musschenbroek
(Dutch Mathematician and Physicist Who Discovered the Principle of the 'Leyden Jar')
Pieter van Musschenbroek
2
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.

 39 
Coenraad Jacob Temminck
2
Birthdate: March 31, 1778
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Amsterdam
Died: January 30, 1858
 40 
Franciscus Sylvius
(Dutch Physician and Scientist Known for Discovery of the Cleft in the Brain Known as 'Sylvian Fissure')
Franciscus Sylvius
2
Birthdate: March 15, 1614
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hanau, Germany
Died: November 19, 1672

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.

 41 
Jacobus Cornelius Kapteyn
1
Birthdate: January 19, 1851
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Barneveld, Netherlands
Died: June 18, 1922

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.

 42 
John Gerrard Keulemans
1
Birthdate: June 8, 1842
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: March 29, 1912
 43 
Regnier de Graaf
(Dutch Physician Known for His Key Contributions to the Field of Reproductive Biology)
Regnier de Graaf
1
Birthdate: July 30, 1641
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Schoonhoven, Netherlands
Died: August 17, 1673

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.

 44 
Thomas Jan Stieltjes
(Mathematician)
Thomas Jan Stieltjes
1
Birthdate: December 29, 1856
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Zwolle, Netherlands
Died: December 31, 1894

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.    

 45 
Hendrik Anthony Kramers
2
Birthdate: February 2, 1894
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Died: April 24, 1952
 46 
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.

 47 
John Goodricke
(Amateur astronomer)
John Goodricke
1
Birthdate: September 17, 1764
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Groningen, Netherlands
Died: April 20, 1786

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.

 48 
Maarten Schmidt
(Astronomer)
Maarten Schmidt
1
Birthdate: December 28, 1929
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Groningen, Netherlands

Maarten Schmidt is a Dutch-American astronomer credited with measuring the distance between two or more quasars. In 2008, he became the co-recipient of the maiden Kavli Prize for Astrophysics along with Donald Lynden-Bell. Maarten Schmidt has also received several other prestigious awards, such as the Helen B. Warner Prize, James Craig Watson Medal, Bruce Medal, and Henry Norris Russell Lectureship.

 49 
C. H. D. Buys Ballot
1
Birthdate: October 10, 1817
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kloetinge, Netherlands
Died: February 3, 1890
 50 
Alexander Ollongren
(He serves on the Advisory Council of METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence))
Alexander Ollongren
1
Birthdate: November 9, 1928
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kepahiang Sub-District, Indonesia

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.