The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) presented its NWO/Spinoza Award for 2002 in August to four Dutch research scientists. This annual award is the most prestigious one given in the Netherlands for scientific achievement.

One of the winners, Ad Lagendijk, is a professor of physics in the MESA+ Institute at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. A member of the complex photonic systems research group at the institute, Lagendijk conducts work “at the interface between optics and solid-state physics,” according to the NWO. His research involves study of how light beams travel through materials, especially those (such as paint) that make the propagation of light waves very difficult. In 1990, while he was a professor of physics at the University of Amsterdam, he and his group discovered the “Amsterdam effect,” in which paint particles reflect light back and forth so often that they temporarily capture and delay...

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