Helge Kragh

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Helge Kragh
Helge Kragh 2019 cropped.JPG
Helge Kragh, 2019
BornFebruary 13, 1944
Alma materUniversity of Copenhagen, Roskilde University
Known forHistory of cosmology, relativity, quantum mechanics
AwardsAbraham Pais Prize for History of Physics (2019)
Scientific career
FieldsScience historian
InstitutionsAarhus University, Denmark

Helge Stjernholm Kragh (born February 13, 1944) is a Danish historian of science who focuses on the development of 19th century physics, chemistry, and astronomy.[1] His published work includes biographies of Paul Dirac, Julius Thomsen and Ludvig Lorenz, and The Oxford Handbook of the History of Modern Cosmology (2019) which he co-edited with Malcolm Longair.[1]


Kragh studied physics and chemistry at the University of Copenhagen, graduating with a degree in 1970. He earned his Ph.D. in physics in 1981 at the University of Roskilde. He received a second doctorate, in philosophy, from the University of Aarhus in 2007.[2]

Kragh was an associate professor of history of science at Cornell University from 1987 to 1989, a professor at the University of Oslo from 1995 to 1997, and a professor at Aarhus University in Denmark from 1997 to 2015.[2]

As of 2015 he retired, becoming emeritus professor at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen.[2] He is also a professor emeritus at the Centre for Science Studies of Aarhus University.[3]

Kragh's areas of study are the history of physics from the mid-19th century onward, the history of astronomy, the history of cosmology and the history of chemistry. He is known for his work on the history of the periodic system, early quantum atomic models, speculative cosmology and the northern lights.[3]

Honors and awards[edit]

Selected writings[edit]

  • Julius Thomsen: A Life in Chemistry and Beyond (2016)[1]
  • Ludvig Lorenz: A Nineteenth-Century Theoretical Physicist (2018)[1]
  • The Weight of the Vacuum (2014)[7]
  • Masters of the Universe (2015)[7]
  • Varying Gravity: Dirac’s Legacy in Cosmology and Geophysics (2016)[7]
  • Dirac: A Scientific Biography. Cambridge University Press 1990, 2005, ISBN 0521017564
  • Quantum Generations: A History of Physics in the Twentieth Century. Princeton University Press, 1999
  • An introduction to the Historiography of Science. Cambridge University Press, 1987
  • Matter and Spirit in the Universe: Scientific and Religious Preludes to Modern Cosmology. 2004
  • Conceptions of Cosmos: From Myths to the Accelerating Universe: A History of Cosmology. Oxford University Press, 2006
  • Cosmology and Controversy: The Historical Development of Two Theories of the Universe. Princeton University Press, 1999
  • The Moon that wasn't – the saga of Venus' spurious satellite. Birkhäuser, 2008
  • Den Sære Historie om Venus' Måne og Andre Naturvidenskabelige Fortællinger (The Strange History of Venus' Moon and Other Scientific Tales). Lindhardt og Ringhof, 2020, ISBN 9788711984000[10]
  • Entropy Creation: Religious Contexts of Thermodynamics and Cosmology. Ashgate, London 2008
  • with David Knight, eds.: The Making of the Chemist: The Social History of Chemistry in Europe, 1789–1914. Cambridge University Press, 1998
  • with Peter C. Kjargaard & Henry Nielsen: Science in Denmark – A Thousand-Year History. Aarhus University Press, 2009
  • with Malcolm Longair, eds.: The Oxford Handbook of the History of Modern Cosmology. Oxford University Press, 2019
  • Max Weinstein: Physics, Philosophy, Pandeism, History and Philosophy of Physics, 2019
  • Foreword, Max B. Weinstein, World and Life Views, Emerging From Religion, Philosophy and Perception of Nature, trans. Deborah Moss, 2021
  • List of Kragh's publications up to 2015 at Aarhus University


  1. ^ a b c d e "Roy G. Neville Prize in Bibliography or Biography". Science History Institute. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d "Abraham Pais Prize for History of Physics: Recipient Helge Kragh Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen". APS Physics. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Academic staff". Centre for Science Studies Department of Mathematics Aarhus University. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
  4. ^ "Roy G. Neville Prize awarded to Helge Kragh". Niels Bohr Archive. September 14, 2019. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
  5. ^ "Professor Emeritus Helge Kragh receives the prestigeous [sic] Abraham Pais Prize for History of Physics 2019". Niels Bohr Institute. May 29, 2019. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
  6. ^ "Website of the ESHS". Retrieved January 24, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d Rocha, Gustavo Rodrigues; Kragh, Helge (June 28, 2017). "Interview: Helge Kragh". Transversal: International Journal for the Historiography of Science (2): 233. doi:10.24117/2526-2270.2017.i2.20. Retrieved January 16, 2020.
  8. ^ "Helge Kragh". International Academy of the History of Science. Retrieved January 24, 2016.
  9. ^ "Members". Videnskabernes Selskab (The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. Retrieved January 24, 2016.
  10. ^ Kragh, H., "Venus has no moon, yet this moon was discovered in the 1700s", ScienceNordic, June 3, 2020.