Hendrik Antoon Lorentz
Hendirk Antoon Lorentz 1853-1928, Netherlands, Arnhem, Leiden, Haarlem.
Received Nobelprice Physics in 1902.
Primary work: Understanding light and magnetism.
Why this person and how does this relate to today?
We both were familiar with Lorentz as a name, as we learned during our physics courses at high school and university about the Lorentz Force, Lorentz contraction and Lorentz transformation. We also vaguely were aware that he was a Dutch physicist, that he received a Nobel price and that he somehow knew Albert Einstein. As knowing all about electricity and magnetism is crucial for today’s society we became interested.
Our quest: what did we find out, when and where.
Reading Wikipedia we quickly became very intrigued. In fact we were a bit ashamed and very surprised realizing that Lorentz is today less well known than should be. In the early 1900’s he was one of the most influential scientist worldwide and had very good relationships with other very well known persons like Einstein and Maxwell. He also appeared to have been a very likable person who spoke four languages fluently. A big surprise to us was that he also was a key person in the Netherlands in building the most important defense against the water during the last century, the afsluitdijk, the dam that transformed to Zuiderzee (sea) to the IJsselmeer (lake). The latter came about afte a devastating flood in 1916 in Waterland, just north of Amsterdam.
Arnhem, 30 June 2017
We started in Arnhem, the birth place of Lorentz. It was raining, but warm. On bike we got to the various places. He was born in Arnhem 1853, in a time where the streets in Arnhem were not paved and where the use of motorized transport and electricity was very rare.
On the location where he was born, the Steenstraat 82, we there is a sign indicating the location of where the house he was born once stood. The street where he was born was one the first paved roads in Arnhem (steen means: stone). His grandparents had moved from Germany to this areas in the 18th century and over time his familly became well-to-do farmers and traders.
He was extremly high talented. Het went to the HBS (High school), where on his final report he scored for all disciplines the maximum score. He excelled in all disciplines, math, physics, and fluent in four langages.
The high school building is still there and is a national monument. Its design is beautiful and ver characteristic for the time (about 1875).
It’s original location was the Willemsplein, but we learned that the whole building was actually moved in 1904 to the Schoolstraat 22 in Arnhem. Surprisingly, while making pictures, there was a note on the entrance-stairs indidcating that Escher also went to school here (1912-1918) and that the stairs within the the building inspired him to his drawings with never-ending stairs.
We next went to the monument in Eindhoven dedicated to Lorentz. Its was officially opened by princes Juliana in 1930 (two years after his death). It is a typical monument from the time, with Left and right lists of names of persons that were all related to the work of Lorentz (particle theoryon the left, waves theory on the right).
Leiden, 1 July 2017
Lorentz finished he PhD thesis when he was 20 and became the 1st professor theoretical physics when he was 24 (1877). As some of the students he had to teach were now and then younger than himself, he decided to grow his beard to look older.
Visitor Albert Einstein
Central figure in highly dynamic new field
Very well liked by all on a personal level
Haarlem, 2 Juli 2017
Workplace Teyler Museum
Theater depicting his live and discoveries
Key person in arranging experimental evidence with Eddington using astronomy.