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Hendrik Lorentz

Hendrik LorentzAKA Hendrik Antoon Lorentz

Born: 18-Jul-1853
Birthplace: Arnhem, Netherlands
Died: 4-Feb-1928
Location of death: Haarlem, Netherlands
Cause of death: Illness
Remains: Buried, Kleverlaan Cemetery, Haarlem, Netherlands

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Physicist

Nationality: Netherlands
Executive summary: Electrons

Dutch physicist Hendrik Lorentz refined James Clerk Maxwell's theory of electromagnetic radiation to explain how light is reflected and refracted. He was adept at basic mathematics by the age of six, and mastered logarithms by nine.

He studied at the University of Leiden and was named Professor of Physics at Leiden when he was only 25. To explain the relationship between electricity, light, and magnetism, he proposed that atoms and molecules carry either a positive or negative charge, and that oscillation and light are produced by these charged particles. In 1895 he described the Lorentz force, the effect of charged particles in an electromagnetic field, and he coined the term electron in 1899.

In 1904 he calculated mathematical formulas, now called Lorentz transformations, to show how one observer's space and time measurements are related to the observations of a second observer who is moving (relative to the first observer), a work expanded by Albert Einstein into his special theory of relativity. Lorentz explained the splitting of spectral lines in strong magnetic fields, as first observed by his student Pieter Zeeman in 1896. Lorentz and Zeeman shared the second Nobel Prize in Physics in 1902.

Father: Gerrit Frederik Lorentz (florist, b. 24-Jan-1822, d. 1893)
Mother: Geertruida van Ginkel (b. 11-Jun-1826, d. 1857)
Mother: Luberta Hupkes (stepmother, m. Gerrit Lorentz 1862)
Wife: Aletta Catharina Kaiser (b. 15-Apr-1858, m. 15-Jul-1881, d. 1-Oct-1931)
Daughter: Geertruida Luberta De Haas-Lorentz (physicist)

    High School: Aarnhem Gymnasium, Aarnhem, Netherlands (1870)
    University: BS Mathematics and Physics, University of Leiden (1871)
    Teacher: Mathematics & Physics, Aarnhem Gymnasium, Aarnhem, Netherlands (1871-73)
    University: PhD Mathematical Physics, University of Leiden (1875)
    Professor: Theoretical Physics, University of Leiden (1877-1928)
    Administrator: Teyler Institute, Haarlem, Netherlands (1912-28)

    Nobel Prize for Physics 1902 (with Pieter Zeeman)
    Rumford Medal 1908
    Copley Medal 1918
    League of Nations International Committee of Intellectual Cooperation:1923-28
    Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences
    Royal Society 1905 (Foreign Member)
    Royal Society of Edinburgh 1920 (Foreign Member)
    Dutch Ancestry
    Lunar Crater Lorentz (32.6 N, 95.3 W, 312 km. diameter)

Author of books:
Visible and Invisible Movements (1901, non-fiction)
The Theory of Electrons (1906, non-fiction)
Lessons on Theoretical Physics (1919, non-fiction)
Problems of Modern Physics (1927, non-fiction)


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