Born Grave, The Netherlands, 28 May 1886
Died Leiden, The Netherlands, 16 September 1963
Johannes Droste derived what we now call the Schwarzschild solution to Einstein’s equations of general relativity and some related items, announcing them just 4 months after Karl Albert Schwarzschild’s work had been presented in Potsdam.
Droste received his PhD at Leiden, for work under Hendrik Lorentz on “het zwaartekrachteveld van een o meer lichamen volgen de theorie van Einstein” (Gravitational Field of one or more Bodies according to the Theory of Einstein), and his paper “The field of a single center in Einstein’s Theory of Gravitation and the motion of a particle in that field” was presented to the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences by Lorentz in 1916, the year of his PhD. He used what would now be called a Regge-Wheeler tortoise coordinate (a different method from Schwarzschild’s).
After teaching in a gymnasium in Gorkum (1914–1919), Droste joined the University of Leiden, where he became professor of mathematics in 1930. Between 1933 and 1953, he had at least ten PhD students in mathematics, some of whom in turn have had many students and students-of-students.
Droste’s work in relativity was rediscovered and its importance recognized only in the present century.