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Anne Kox, emiritus professor in the History of Physics at the University of Amsterdam, has written a biography about Hendrik Antoon Lorentz. The biography, 'Een levend kunstwerk' (in Dutch) will be published on 11 October by Balans Publishers.

Cover 'Een levend kunstwerk'

He won the Nobel Prize, was a member of the Royal Society and constructed the basis for Einstein's theory of relativity: Lorentz was one of the most important mathematicians and physicists that the Netherlands produced. When he died in 1928, the telegraph service was interrupted for three minutes. Extra trains were needed to get all visitors to his funeral in time. Prince Hendrik personally visited his widow to communicate his condolences.

Lorentz was an icon. Einstein called him a living piece of art ('Een levend kunstwerk', the title of the biography), a perfect personality, a genius. He was a wise, good person, a builder of bridges, preparing roads, a grand master. Biographer Anne Kox delved into the life and work of Hendrik Antoon Lorentz. He managed to find a human being behind this facade of admiration. At the same time, the biography offers a surprising history of the time in which Lorentz lived and did his science. Among other things, Kox had access to unknown letters between the Lorentz couple and their children.

Kox describes Lorentz's passion in a clear and nuanced manner, as well as his unique position in science, the importance of his ideas, his international actions immediately after World War I, his friendship with Albert Einsten, to whom he was a teacher but also a critic, his work in the Teylers Museum and his never ending loyalty to a large group of scientists, national and international. The book portrays a great man, who deeply influenced international science but also played an important role in society in the Netherlands.

Anne Kox. Photo: Balans

About Anne Kox

Anne Kox (1948) is an emeritus professor in the History of Physics at the University of Amsterdam. He is an editor of the Collected Papers of Albert Einstein and produced an edition of Lorentz' scientific correspondence in two volumes. The biography is the final part in a series of biographies for which the initiative was taken by the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds. To make this book possible, Kox received a stipend from the Cultuurfonds.

Book presentation, 11 October