J. van Besouw
J. van Dongen
- The reception of relativity in the Netherlands
- Book title
- Physics as a calling, science for society: studies in honour of A.J. Kox
- Pages (from-to)
- Leiden: Leiden Publications
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Theoretical Physics Amsterdam (ITFA)
This article reviews the early academic and public reception of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity in the Netherlands, particularly after Arthur Eddington's eclipse experiments of 1919. Initially, not much attention was given to relativity, as it did not seem an improvement over Hendrik A. Lorentz' work. This changed after the arrival in Leiden of Paul Ehrenfest. Soon relativity was much studied and lead to controversy among a number of conservative intellectuals, as elsewhere in Europe. The tone of Dutch critics was much more mild, however. This can be understood when one considers Dutch neutrality during World War I. Einstein's political positions were generally positively perceived in Holland, which Dutch academics put to use in their efforts at international reconciliation abroad, and the presentation of theoretical physics at home.
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