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The case of the stolen rooms

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 March 2004

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Heike Kamerlingh Onnes (1853–1926) was famous for the Cryogenic Laboratory he built up at Leiden University. Hendrik Antoon Lorentz (1853–1928), Professor of theoretical physics at the same university and Onnes' closest colleague, left Leiden in 1912. According to Lorentz's daughter, this move had been initiated by a ‘trick’ Onnes had played on her father a few years earlier. Lorentz had been given two small laboratories for his personal use, but within a short time, according to Lorentz' daughter, Onnes just pinched those rooms and added them to his big laboratory. How did Kamerlingh Onnes and Lorentz get along together, and what really happened in the ‘case of the stolen rooms’?

Research Article
© Academia Europaea 2004

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Address given on the occasion of the fourth meeting of the Dutch members of the Academia Europaea the Boerhaave Museum in Leiden on 11 June 2003. Translated by Annette Visser. e-mail: