Whilst scientists have achieved undeniable successes over the centuries, many of them endured more than their fair share of disappointments, failures and disasters. Who deserves the title of most unfortunate scientist is still up for debate.
"God created the world but the Dutch created the Netherlands", Descartes supposedly once said. Leiden University Libraries acquired 40 photographs by Dutch photographer Marie-José Jongerius (b. 1970), who photographed an extreme example of this Dutch passtime.
If you look at the original death mask of Willem Bilderdijk (1756-1831), you can still see the bushy eyebrows of the famous Dutch poet. The fact that such a mask was made tells us a lot about Bilderdijk’s status as a celebrity, but is also characteristic of 19th century Romantic relic worship.
On October the 29th in the year 1590, one of the greatest minds of the Dutch Reformation, Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert (1522-1590), passed away in Gouda. Coornhert is not as well-known as some of his contemporaries, but nonetheless he was a very interesting and influential thinker.
Among the many joys of doing research, my favourite is best described as “archival serendipity”. When my research kept yielding correspondence in Esperanto I decided to have a look in the Leiden Special Collections. The result: Or. 6767: a complete grammar of Tibetan, explained in Esperanto.