Heike Kamerlingh Onnes: a biography. The man who discovered absolute zero.

Heike Kamerlingh Onnes: een biografie. De man van het absolute nulpunt.

Author(s) : DELFT D. van

Type of monograph: Thesis


This doctoral thesis, which is aimed at a broad public, presents a biography of Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, the low-temperature physicist at Leiden University. Together with J.D. van der Waals, H.A. Lorentz, P. Zeeman, J.H. van 't Hoff and W. Einthoven, Onnes represents the so-called 'Second Golden Age', the heyday of Dutch physics in the period around 1900. The central question in this book is how Kamerlingh Onnes was able to succeed so brilliantly in developing his cryogenics laboratory - undoubtedly an exceptional feat in terms of its scale and its almost industrial approach in The Netherlands of the last quarter of the nineteenth century. A related question is what determined his success - his abilities as a scientist, his organizational talent, or his personality? This portrayal of Kamerlingh Onnes, the man and the scientist, gives ample attention to the social and scientific environment in which he operated. On July 10th, 1908, the coldest spot on Earth was situated at Leyden (The Netherlands): Heike Kamerlingh Onnes succeeded his efforts to reach extremely low temperatures culminating in the liquefaction of helium. That day, he reached the closest temperature to absolute zero achieved up until then (-273 °C). In 1911, he discovered the superconductivity of pure metals, and in 1913 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.


  • Original title: Heike Kamerlingh Onnes: een biografie. De man van het absolute nulpunt.
  • Record ID : 2005-1569
  • Languages: Dutch
  • Publication: Uitgeverij bert bakker - Netherlands/Netherlands
  • Publication date: 2005
  • ISBN: 9035127390
  • Source: Source: 664 p. (14 x 22); fig.; phot.; ref.; index; EUR 39.95.
  • Document available for consultation in the library of the IIR headquarters only.