© 2018

Willem de Sitter

Einstein's Friend and Opponent

  • Offers a comprehensive portrait of De Sitter's life and work, of interest to general readers as well as physicists and historians

  • Presents De Sitter's contributions in a fresh but sound way, and in a wider context

  • Gives clear insights into De Sitter's controversies with Einstein


Part of the Springer Biographies book series (SPRINGERBIOGS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxii
  2. Jan Guichelaar
    Pages 31-44
  3. Jan Guichelaar
    Pages 45-60
  4. Jan Guichelaar
    Pages 61-79
  5. Jan Guichelaar
    Pages 81-99
  6. Jan Guichelaar
    Pages 101-115
  7. Jan Guichelaar
    Pages 145-172
  8. Jan Guichelaar
    Pages 173-194
  9. Jan Guichelaar
    Pages 195-221
  10. Jan Guichelaar
    Pages 223-247
  11. Jan Guichelaar
    Pages 249-272
  12. Back Matter
    Pages 273-278

About this book


This is a thorough, very readable and excellently illustrated biography of Willem de Sitter (1872-1934), one of the most influential astronomers of his time, and also a co-author and correspondent of Einstein. Authored by a physicist and skilled writer, the book gives a beautiful and accessible description of the physics debated by Einstein and de Sitter, as well as the latter's alternative cosmological model, later known as the De Sitter Universe. But this is just part of a fascinating and varied life story involving numerous contributions to astronomy, as well as many places and personalities of early 20th century physics. The book will appeal to all those interested in astronomy and physics and their history.


Einstein's cosmology Cosmological models Gravitation from Newton to Einstein Jacobus Kapteyn David Gill Galilean moons of Jupiter Presidents of the Royal Astromical Society De Sitter and Eddington Theoretical physics in Leiden during the First World War The Einstein-De Sitter Universe de Sitter biography

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.AmsterdamThe Netherlands

About the authors

Jan Guichelaar (1945) is a theoretical physicist. He studied mathematics, astronomy and theoretical physics at the University of Amsterdam and received his PhD in 1974 with a thesis on acoustics in relativistic kinetic Boltzmann theory. After a career in secondary education, politics, university education and educational management he has been active as a historian of science in the field of astronomy and physics.

Bibliographic information


“This is certainly the best work we have on de Sitter—and perhaps on Dutch astronomy in general. … Scholars interested in astronomy in the first half of the twentieth century certainly need to read this book, as should those interested in scientific internationalism between the world wars.” (Matthew Stanley, Isis, Vol. 111 (1), 2020)

“The book under review covers a very large area of subjects. It can be classified as a historical-scientific work, as well as a bibliographic one, equally as a book concerned to celestial mechanics or to cosmology. … The reader of the book can be happy to find here also a lot about the greatest scientists from the beginnning of the 20-th century … .” (Alex B. Gaina, zbMATH 1408.83004, 2019)