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The fossil fuel era, and what comes next

We live in an exceptional time : the era of cheap and easy energy. We owe it to the next generations to extend this era as far as feasible. What are the opportunities in this field, and how effective are the various energy-conservation measures ? Can the world do without nuclear power ? What are the alternative energy sources and how promising is their potential ? Some basic insight and elementary physics turns out to be a great help in answering such questions.




Jo Hermans is emeritus professor of Physics. He obtained his MSc in Physics and his PhD (cum laude) at Leiden University, was postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and then joined the Faculty at Leiden University. He became part-time professor at the TU Eindhoven and full professor at Leiden University. He spent sabbatical leaves at several foreign universities (i.a. Princeton, Kyoto, Paris).

In addition to his academic teaching and research (i.a. in transport properties in gases ; collisions between molecules and surfaces ; transitions between spin-modifications of polyatomic molecules and laser-induced kinetic phenomena in molecular gases), he held various management positions (i.a. vice-dean of the Department of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at Leiden University) and is Science Editor of Europhysics News.

He is also quite involved in outreach by providing insight into science for the general public. In this context he wrote a number of books :

- ENERGIE, een blik in de toekomst (with A.J. Hoff, Het Spectrum, 1982) ;

- HOOR JE BETER IN HET DONKER ? Antwoord op alledaagse vragen (Betatext, 2006)

- Energie survival gids (Betatext, 2008)

- Energy Survival Guide (Betatext and Leiden University Press, 2011)

- Physics in Daily Life (with illustrations by Wiebke Drenckhan, EDP Sciences, 2012)


He is married to Hanneke Hermans-Servaas and has two children and two grandchildren.

His hobbies include cycling, music, tennis and skating (he finished the ‘Elfstedentocht’ in 1985).

He was appointed Knight in de Order of Oranje-Nassau by Queen Beatrix.