Vincent Icke (1946) is Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Leyden, and Professor of Cosmology at the University of Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. He is the head of the Theory Group at the Sterrewacht Leyden. He studied theoretical physics and astronomy at Utrecht, and in 1972 obtained a doctorate (for a study of galaxy formation and large scale cosmic structure) at Leyden. He has held postdoctoral positions at the University of Sussex, Cambridge University, and the California Institute of Technology. After serving as a junior faculty member at the University of Minnesota, he came to Leyden in 1983.
At present, his main interests are cosmology, the ‘cosmological constant', the formation of structure in the Universe, and radiation hydrodynamics. Recently, he was instrumental in the founding of the School of Arts at the University of Leyden.
Besides his academic pursuits, Vincent Icke takes an active interest in the popularization of science. The third printing of his book The Force of Symmetry, describing for a wide audience the current developments in theoretical particle physics, was published by Cambridge University Press (1999). He wrote two collections of short essays, entitled De eekhoornformule (The Squirrel Formula) and Passie en precisie (Passion and Precision), as well as popular books on (astro)physics: Krachten (Forces), and Niks Relatief (Relative ain't). Vincent Icke is also a visual artist, whose work covers a wide range of styles, media, applications and concepts (see the Alien Art website). He was guest lecturer at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and at the DasArts School in Amsterdam and at the Rijksacademie voor Beeldende Kunsten in The Hague. He has participated in over a hundred productions on radio and television.
Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695), the famous Dutch astronomer, worked on just about everything and published practically nothing. In his honour and memory, Vincent Icke writes about Huygens through his eyes as a physicist and visual artist. Huygens's work is characterized by careful observations and independent creative thinking. With simple instruments and self-made telescope lenses he peered at nebulae and planets in the dark night sky. Icke describes Huygens's observations, and explains his connections with art, or at least art in the service of explanation. He presents Huygens as the founder of classical mechanics and the author of the first theory of relativity, and he shows how studying Huygens's work gives us insight into contemporary physical problems. As Icke states: "The spirit of my hero is omnipresent in the most fundamental physical laws: the various relativity theories and the field theories of particle interactions. He is long dead and I am not, but in his legacy he is more alive than me. An unbroken line connects Christiaan Huygens's scientific past with the physics of the future that we have yet to conquer."
"Vincent Icke is a phenomenon. Nothing is nicer as to be taken on a journey by somebody who speaks with passion about his subject. I wouldn't have missed it for anything, if only because of its wonderful design."
"The principles of Huygens were extraordinary, brilliant and ingenious in their simplicity. Vincent Icke as it were puts himself in Christiaan Huygens' shoes, he identifies with his ideas and theories and projects his genius onto today's world of physics. The result is supercool!"
Dutch Journal of Physics