Schedule Apr 12, 2006
Historical Notes on the Dutch and American-Dutch "schools" in Astronomy and Their Relations with Physics
Dr. Ed van den Heuvel, Universiteit van Amsterdam

Dutch astronomy and physics experienced two "golden ages". The first one covered the 17th century, culminating with Christiaan Huygens, inventor of the pendulum clock and the wave theory of light, and discoverer of Saturn's rings and largest satellite Titan. The second one, which lasts till the present, started around 1880 with physicists Lorentz, van der Waals, Zeeman and Kamerlingh Onnes and astronomer Kapteijn and his pupils De Sitter, van Rhijn, Oort and Schilt. Kapteijn, through his friendship with George Ellery Hale, initiated the strong connection between American and Dutch astronomy, which led to the rise of many Dutch-born astronomers to prominent positions in the US, from Luyten, Bok, Brouwer, Schilt and Kuiper to Woltjer, Gehrels, and Beckers. The rise of the second "golden age" appears to be closely related to drastic reforms in the Dutch high school and university systems in the last decades of the 19th century.

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