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Sixtieth anniversary of Nobel Prize for Zernike

31 October 2013

A full house is awaiting the start of an opera performance at the Stadsschouwburg when suddenly Professor Van Winter, a member of the audience, climbs onto the stage to make an announcement: ‘Groningen has a Nobel Prize winner’. A standing ovation follows. This is how, on 4 November 1953, the first public announcement was made of the Nobel Prize in Physics being awarded to Frits Zernike. Six decades after the event, the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences of the University of Groningen will remember one of the earliest milestones in its top research with a lecture and Zernike’s treat at the time.

Frits Zernike (1888-1966) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his invention of the phase contrast microscope. This instrument enabled scientists to view living cells and bacteria. The process of cell division could be studied under the microscope for the first time. Zernike’s invention therefore signified a breakthrough for the medical and biological sciences. Zernike always remained modest, even after his Nobel laureate. As he himself said: ‘It was not me, but my invention that won the Nobel Prize’.

Memorable treat

On 4 November, current staff, students and visitors of the Zernike Campus will be reminded of the Groningen Nobel Prize winner in a light-hearted manner. The Faculty will do this exactly as Frits Zernike did at the time: he treated the staff and students at the physics laboratory to chocolate to celebrate his Nobel Prize. In addition to this sweet surprise, there will be a lecture about the life and work of Frits Zernike. This lecture, which allows everyone to become acquainted or reacquainted with Zernike and his invention, will be held in the lecture theatre at Nijenborgh 4 at 11 am, 12 noon and 1 pm.

For further information: Theo Jurriens
Last modified:13 March 2020 02.14 a.m.
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