In 1912 the eminent Leiden Physicist Hendrik Lorentz chose the Austrian-born Paul Ehrenfest as his successor. Ehrenfest may have been something of an unknown quantity in Leiden, but he proved to be an immediate hit. Single-handedly, he changed the course of physics education en Leiden. Like nobody else before him, Ehrenfest swept his students along to the heart of the matter. For Ehrenfest, physics was more than a science, it was a way of life, it was his life. Yet there was also a dark side to Ehrenfest. Deep depressions and unrelenting selfcriticism led to a chosen death which was as inevitable as it was dramatic.
In that heroic era when relativity theory and quantum mechanics revolutionized physics, Ehrenfest was a sounding board to the great physicists of the world, including his close friend Albert Einstein. Every year Einstein stayed with the Ehrenfests in Leiden to hone his latest insights, philosophize about life and of course make music together.
Ehrenfest! is the moving story of a man for whom physics was a lifeline. It also spelt his doom.