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The museum's collection managers and curators often dwell on the history of science and examples from the collections of the University Museum. Below are a few columns.

Frits Zernike (1888-1966) | Part 1: From card game to Nobel Prize

Frits Zernike is one of those Groningen scientists that everyone in Groningen, or at least everyone connected to the University of Groningen, should know about. Because for his discovery of phase contrast and the invention of the phase contrast microscope Zernike brought the Nobel Prize to Groningen. But he made more important discoveries. In this series about Frits Zernike we will bring some of those discoveries to you.

Zernike 2

Frits Zernike (1888-1966) | Part 2: A second first prize and a dissertation

After Frits Zernike won a prize medal in Groningen in 1908, the young Frits had his eye on success. In 1912 he wins another prize in a competition held by the ‘Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen’ (Dtuch Society of Sciences and Humanities). For his prize Zernike can choose between: 150 guilders (around 1700 euro) or a gold medal. In our collection are a number of medals of Zernike, but the medal of this particular prize is missing. We assume therefore that Zernike chose the money in stead.

zernike 3

Frits Zernike (1888-1966) | Part 3 : the road to Groningen

Zernike studied chemistry in Amsterdam. And although he was already familiar with the University of Groningen (he won an earlier competion of this university - see part of this series), he came to the physics laboratory in a roundabout way.

Zernike galvanometer

Frits Zernike (1888-1966) | Part 4: Of spool and mirror

Zernike wins the Nobel Prize with his invention of the phase-contrast microscope. And although this is his most famous invention, it is not his only invention. In this column we explain more about one of our favourites: the improvement Zernike made to the galvanometer.

Frits Zernike

Frits Zernike (1888-1966) | Part 5: Frits Zernike, alias MacGuyver

Zernike was a skillful experimenter and a gifted tinkerer, as he had already shown when he made the adjustments to the galvanometer. But he proved this also during his regular working days at the laboratory on the Westersingel, in the city center of Groningen. The part of the building in which Zernike worked most of his life has been replaced, but luckily we still have the photographs!

Unsung heroes

Frits Zernike (1888-1966) | Part 6: Frits Zernike and the Unsung Heroes

Frits Zernike was known for his ability to resolve problems and for his craftsmanship. He made many of his test setups himself. However, due to time restrictions, he could not finish all his inventions alone. That is where the instrument makers of the institute came into the picture. They built equipment for all kinds of purposes: mechanical, electronic, with metal or as a glassblower. An assignment was never impossible.

Personnel of the laboratory

Frits Zernike (1888-1966) | Deel 7: Frits Zernike en de Elfstedentocht van 1956

Het zou een spannend verhaal kunnen zijn, maar helaas… Zernike heeft niet aan de Elfstedentocht meegedaan. Het is zelfs niet bekend of hij de schaatssport bedreef. Maar er valt wel een goed verhaal over te vertellen, gelukkig.

Professor De Burlet

The letters of professor Herman Maximilien de Burlet

The University Museum not only has an extensive collection of objects, but also an extensive archive. From the Second World War period a lot of letters and documetns have been preserved, among which is a correspondence between two professors: anatomist and pathologist dr. Herman Maximilien de Burlet (1883 – 1957) and his German colleague Albert Fischer (1892-1969).

Maggical wand from Sumatra

Magical wand from Sumatra

The University Museum possesses a special ethnographical collection by the late professor of history and religious studies Theodoor Pieter van Baaren (1912 – 1989). The collection holds this richly decorated wand with figures of both humans and animals made from glossy black wood.

Last modified:13 August 2021 3.33 p.m.
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