(Period 30 11 1858 – 23 11 1937)
Sir Nevill Mote, Nobel laureate in 1977 for his research in Solid state electronics lauded J C Bose that he was 60 years ahead of his time in anticipating the existence of P type and N type semiconductors, the basis for modern day computers.
J C Bose is a truly versatile and pioneering inventor in the British India in many areas of science like Physics, Biology, Biophysics and Polymaths as well as early writer of science fiction. He was never interested in commercial benefits from his inventions in spite of huge opportunities but made his work public for others to pursue further. He was taught by some of the great professors; some of his students also became outstanding scientists.
An outline of his life & work is mentioned below since it is impossible to detail his lifetime inventions in a few pages; for further details, large number of published articles in electronic and print media may be referred.
J C Bose studied in St. Xavier’s college, Calcutta for B.Sc; in University of Cambridge for his Tripos & M A and University of London for his B.Sc. Some of his teachers in Cambridge were James Deewar, Michael Foster, Francis Darwin and Francis Balfour. He conducted his research with the Nobel laureate Lord Rayleigh while he was in Cambridge.
He had worked in the Presidency College in Calcutta as Professor of Physics.
In Plant Physiology, he proved parallelism between animal and plant tissues using his own invention, Crescograph to measure plant response to different stimuli. He also made his own automatic recorders for registering extremely slight movements to demonstrate the feelings of injured plants.
In Electromagnetic waves, following the works of J C Maxwell, Heinrich Hertz and Oliver Lodge, J C Bose was the first one to realize the importance of milli metre waves. He reduced the waves to 5 mm wavelength and demonstrated its power in 1894. In the town hall, Calcutta, he ignited a gun powder and made a bell at a distance ring which was witnessed by the then British Governor. Thus the invisible light rays could easily pass through the brick walls and buildings was proven by him.
Thus, our J C Bose is the First person to make ‘coherer’, the Hertzian wave receiver / detector that helped G. Marconi to realize his first radio communication equipment.
His research works were published in a number of European journals including the Royal Society of London.
In the field of Biophysics, his major contribution is the demonstration of electrical nature of the conduction of different stimuli in plants which were earlier thought to be of chemical nature. He had done extensive and pioneering research on the mechanism of seasonal effects on plants.
He also made a comparative study of the fatigue response of different metals and organic tissues of plants. His experiments demonstrated the similarities between metals and cells in cyclical fatigue response and recovery response.
The western world was said to be in awe of the breadth, depth and original inventiveness of the single Bengali Professor of British India. They were also surprised about Bose not patenting his inventions and making commercial gains.
The place of J C Bose in the annals of the history of science has been reevaluated now and he is credited for his pioneering work the First wireless detection device, discovery of millimeter length electromagnetic waves and a place in Biophysics.
Some of his outstanding students who became great scientists are Satyendra Nath Bose, Meghnad Saha, Prasanna Chandra Mahalanobis and Sisir Kumar Mitra.
J C Bose is a rare combination of theoretical physicist, experimental physicist, instrument engineer, biophysicist, botanist and science fiction writer; a true scientist who is keen in studying nature without boundaries. Finally, a great human being not bothered about commercial side of his science.
SALUTATIONS TO A GREAT SON OF INDIA.