ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Hendrik Antoon Lorentz (1853-1928), Dutch theoretical physicist. Lorentz was awarded the Chair of Theoretical Physics at Leiden, the Netherlands, aged just 24. His early work was on the concept of the electron, a term he coined in 1899, showing how vibrating electrons give rise to electromagnetic waves. He worked with Zeeman on the splitting of spectral lines with a magnetic field (Zeeman effect), work for which they shared the 1902 Nobel Prize in Physics. Lorentz also showed that moving objects contract in the direction of motion (LorentzâFitzgerald contraction), which was confirmed by Einstein's theory of special relativity in 1905.
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