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History of Physics

The main focus of the History of Physics group, led by Prof. Jeroen van Dongen, is on the history of modern physics.

Van Dongen researches the Science and Life of Albert Einstein and his contemporaries, and the history and philosophy of gravity. He has also studied science during the Cold War and general problems in science historiography. Van Dongen served as editor of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein (California Institute of Technology; Princeton University Press) and authored Einstein’s Unification (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

Multiple projects are currently conducted at the History of Physics group at the University of Amsterdam. In collaboration with the astronomers of the Anton Pannekoek Institute (API) of the UvA, we are researching the astronomy and socialism of Anton Pannekoek. Research is also conducted on the history and philosophy of dark matter science, in collaboration with members of Amsterdam’s GRAPPA group, and Van Dongen further has a long standing interest in the history and philosophy of black hole physics.

The History of Physics group collaborates in the Vossius Center for the History of Humanities and Sciences of the University of Amsterdam with other historians of knowledge at the University of Amsterdam. This Center, supported by the UvA’s CvB, aims for a unified historiography of all scholarly disciplines and is directed by van Dongen, together with Rens Bod and Julia Kursell of the Humanities Department. This is done concretely through the NWO funded project The Flow of Cognitive Goods (together with the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation, ILLC).

The History of Physics group offers teaching in the UvA’s Physics and Chemistry degree programs and through the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (IIS) of the UvA.

Group members

Prof. dr. J.A.E.F. (Jeroen) van Dongen

Faculty of Science


Dr. J.G. (Jaco) de Swart

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Programme group: Anthropology of Health, Care and the Body