Nicolaas Bloembergen (1920)
Bloembergen started to study Physics at Utrecht University in 1938. When the Second World War started it changed student life altogether. His professor was removed from the university and Bloembergen had to do with whatever lectures were still available supplemented by self-teaching.
It was no surprise that after the liberation of the Netherlands, the young physicist set out for the United States as quickly as possible and worked at Harvard. For where in a ravaged and impoverished Europe could he at last do the doctoral thesis had been longing to do for years? He returned to Leiden in the Netherlands, where he wrote his dissertation Nuclear Magnetic Relaxation, a standard, often reprinted work on NMR.
Bloembergen's at the time revolutionary NMR systems are today much used for medical purposes to examine internal organs and tissues.
Later on in life he returned to the United States and studied Laser and Maser for which he received his Nobel Prize in 1981 with his colleagues Arthur Schwalow and the Swede Kai Siegbahn. 'In fact, what we did was quite simple', he said in the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant in 1990. 'We took a standard textbook on optics and for each section we asked ourselves what would happen if the intensity was to become very high. We were almost certain that we were bound to encounter an entirely new type of physics within the domain.'