Netherlands

The Phantastic Worlds of M. C. Escher

The Phantastic Worlds of M. C. Escher

On June 17, 1898, Dutch graphic artist Maurits Cornelis Escher, better known as M. C. Escher, was born. He is known for his often mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints, which feature impossible constructions, explorations of infinity, architecture, and tessellations. “The ideas that are basic to [my work] often bear witness to my amazement and wonder at the laws of nature which operate in the world around us. He who wonders discovers…
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Heike Kamerlingh Onnes and Superconductivity

Heike Kamerlingh Onnes and Superconductivity

On April 8, 1911, Dutch physicist and Nobel Laureate Heike Kamerlingh Onnes found that at a temperature of only 4.2 K (-269° C) the resistance in a solid mercury wire immersed in liquid helium suddenly vanished. Kamerlingh Onnes discovered superconductivity. „Door meten tot weten“ – “Through measurement to knowledge” – Motto of Kamerlingh Onnes’ Laboratory Early Years Born in Groningen, Netherlands, Kamerlingh Onnes also attended the city’s university and studied under the famous…
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Jacob Roggeveen and the Easter Island

Jacob Roggeveen and the Easter Island

On April 5, 1722, Dutch seafarer Jacob Roggeveen is the first European to discover the Polynesian island Rapa Nui, which he named Easter Island. Arent Roggeveen Arent Roggeveen was an accomplished scholar and teacher in mathematics, astronomy, and navigational theory. He managed to obtain a charter from the States-General of the United Netherlands in order to head towards the South Sea in 1675. However, he found no shareholders among the conservative Dutch merchants,…
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Piet Mondrian – Reducing Art to Simple Geometry

Piet Mondrian – Reducing Art to Simple Geometry

On March 7, 1872, Dutch Painter Pieter Cornelis Mondriaan was born. Mondrian is regarded as one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. He is known for being one of the pioneers of 20th century abstract art, as he changed his artistic direction from figurative painting to an increasingly abstract style, until he reached a point where his artistic vocabulary was reduced to simple geometric elements. “A form must be of…
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The Burst of the Tulip Bubble

The Burst of the Tulip Bubble

On February 3, 1637, in Haarlem, Netherlands, the tulip bulb contract prices collapsed abruptly and the trade of tulips ground to a halt. This should put an end to the ‘Tulip Mania‘, one of the first economic bubbles to burst. You see, financial crisis is not an invention of modern times. Already in the 17th century, in the early age of baroque, people went crazy for a good that was short of…
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You are either a Spinozist or not a Philosopher at all

You are either a Spinozist or not a Philosopher at all

On November 24, 1632, Jewish-Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Sephardi origin Baruch Spinoza was born. By laying the groundwork for the Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism, including modern conceptions of the self and the universe, Spinoza came to be considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy. “Beauty, my dear Sir, is not so much a quality of the object beheld, as an effect in him who beholds it. If our sight…
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Johannes Vermeer – Master of Perspective and Lighting

Johannes Vermeer – Master of Perspective and Lighting

On October 31, 1632, Dutch genre painter Johannes Vermeer was born in Delft. Vermeer always worked slowly and with great care, using bright colors and sometimes expensive pigments, with a preference for cornflower blue and yellow. He is particularly renowned for his masterly treatment and use of light in his work. By art alone we are able to get outside ourselves, to know what another sees of this universe which for him is…
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Antonie van Leeuwenhoek – The Father of Microbiology

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek – The Father of Microbiology

On October 24, 1632, the Dutch tradesman and scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, the inventor of the microscope, was born. He is commonly known as “the Father of Microbiology“, and considered to be the first microbiologist. “Please bear in mind that my observations and thoughts are the outcome of my own unaided impulse and curiosity alone; for, besides myself, in our town there be no philosophers who practice this art, so pray, take…
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Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit and the Measurement of Temperature

Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit and the Measurement of Temperature

On May 24, 1686, Dutch-German-Polish physicist, engineer, and glass blower Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit was born. He is is best known for his invention of the mercury-in-glass thermometer in 1714, and for developing a temperature scale that is now named after him. Daniel Fahrenheit – Youth and Education Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit’s parents living in Gdansk, Poland, were Daniel (1656-1701) and Concordia Fahrenheit (1657-1701) (née Schumann, related Runge). The mother came from a well-known Gdañsk…
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Maria Sibylla Merian and her Love for Nature’s Details

Maria Sibylla Merian and her Love for Nature’s Details

On April 2, 1647, the German naturalist and scientific illustrator Maria Sibylla Merian was born. Even though she is not very well known for her achievements, she made significant contributions to entomology through the observation and documentation of the metamorphosis of the butterfly. The Birth of Entomology The fact that Maria Sibylla Merian is not well known throughout the scientific community is probably caused by the fact that the study of nature…
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