Piet Hein

(December 16, 1905–April 17, 1996 / Copenhagen)

Piet Hein
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He was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. He studied at the Institute for Theoretical Physics of the University of Copenhagen (later to become the Niels Bohr Institute), and Technical University of Denmark. Yale awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1972. He died in his home on Funen, Denmark in 1996.

He was a direct descendant of Piet Hein, the Dutch naval hero of the 17th century.


Piet Hein, who, in his own words, "played mental ping-pong" with Niels Bohr in the inter-War period, found himself confronted with a dilemma when the Germans occupied Denmark. He felt that he had three choices: Do nothing, flee to "neutral" Sweden or join the Danish resistance ... more »

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  • ''The human spirit sublimates
    the impulses it thwarts:
    a healthy sex life mitigates
    the lust for other sports.''
    Piet Hein (b. 1905), Dutch inventor, poet. "Hint and Suggestion," Grooks (1966). Admonitory grook addressed to youth.
  • ''They're busy making bigger roads,
    and better roads and more,
    so that people can discover
    even faster than before
    that everything is everywhere alike.''
    Piet Hein (b. 1905), Dutch inventor, poet. Road Sense, in Grooks (1966).
  • ''The road to wisdom?—Well, it's plain
    and simple to express:
    and err
    and err again
    but less
    and less
    and less.''
    Piet Hein (b. 1905), Dutch inventor, poet. "The Road to Wisdom," Grooks (1966).
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