Dec 10, 2008

Personality - J.C.Bose;Pioneering Indian Scientist remembered

The 150th birth anniversary of Sir Jagadis Chandra Bose was commemorated jointly by Christ’s College and the World Institute of Advanced Study, New Delhi, at Christ’s College, Cambridge, on December 6. Christ’s, one of the oldest colleges of the University of Cambridge, has the distinction of having had on its rolls Charles Darwin, John Milton and many other distinguished achievers including J.C. Bose over the years.

J.C. Bose (1858-1937) was a pioneer in the field of electro-magnetic waves and is widely regarded as the first scientist who demonstrated the phenomenon of wireless transmission of electromagnetic waves. The Daily Chronicle of England noted in 1896: “J.C. Bose has transmitted signals to a distance of nearly a mile and herein lies the first and obvious and exceedingly valuable application of this new theoretical marvel. Bose was also the first to use a semi-conducting crystal as a detector of radio waves.”

A symposium titled “Beyond Boundaries: from Physics to Plant Sciences,” was organised to mark the occasion. Also, a beautiful bust of Bose sculpted by Biman Behari Das was unveiled at the college by Indian High Commissioner Shiv Shankar Mukherjee.

In his welcome remarks, Professor Frank Kelly, Master, Christ’s College, recalled the contributions J.C. Bose made to Physics and Physiology.

The symposium dealt with different aspects of trans-boundary research involving both advanced physics and advanced plant physiology. Dr. E.C. George Sudarshan gave a talk on “Bose’s Work on Radio Waves.”

In his address titled, “Green Genes to Manage Global Warming,” Professor M.S. Swaminathan pointed out that Bose’s work on plant response to stress and stimulus has opened up new opportunities in the area of stress physiology to develop crop varieties that are tolerant to drought, floods and salinity which are some of the serious consequences of climate change. His work on Mimosa and Desmodium helped establish that plants respond to stress and stimuli much the same way animals do. Bose explained why the lotus opens its petals at sunrise and closes them at sunset. His remarakable experiments endeared Bose to Rabindranath Tagore, Profulla Chandra Ray, Gopalakrishna Gokhale, Mahatma Gandhi and Sister Nivedita in India, and George Bernard Shah and Romain Rolland outside India.

Professor Swaminathan referred to Bose as the Architect of the Voice of Life and pointed out how his scientific findings strengthen the view that non-violence to nature should become a non-negotiable human ethic. This message is of contemporary relevance in the context of growing violence in the human heart. The recognition of Bose’s contributions to both Physics and Physiology by his alma mater, Christ’s College, is a matter of pride for all Indian scientists and other scholars, he added.

Professor Swaminathan said the bust of Bose will remind generations of scholars at the University of Cambridge of the original and significant scientific findings of the great Indian scientist, who established the Bose Institute in Kolkata in November 1917.

He was the third Indian to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, in 1920, after Ardaseer Cursetjee (1841) and Srinivasa Ramanujam (1918). Sir C.V. Raman, the fourth Indian to be thus elected, in 1924, also devoted his scientific genius in marrying physics and physiology.

Christ’s College will commemorate the Darwin Bicentenary on February 12, 2009.

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