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Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose – The Man Who Made India Proud

It’s said a man can be anything if he really wants to. Jagadish Chandra Bose, commonly known as J. C Bose rephrased the quote and put in his life as – A man can be many things if he wants to! 

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A polymath, physicist, biologist, biophysicist, botanist and archaeologist, and an early writer of science fiction. Yes, that’s Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose for you.

He has contributed a lot to the society but out of all that, his major contribution is the proof that he gave, ‘Plants have feelings’ and the second being in the field of Radio which earned him the title of ‘One of the fathers of Radio Science’ by IEEE. Let’s travel to the past with the father of Bengali Science Fiction.

Early Life

Sir J. C Bose was born on 30th November 1858 in the Bengal Presidency. (Yes, it’s his birthday!)  Bose’s father was a leading member of Brahmo Samaj and his mother was a homemaker.

Jagadish Chandra Bose

Even though they were well of and could afford an English School, Bose was sent to a vernacular School. His father believed that before learning English, his son should know his own mother tongue and his own people. This had a huge impact in the man Jagadish turned out to be. As he explained in one of his conferences – 

“At that time, sending children to English schools was an aristocratic status symbol. In the vernacular school, to which I was sent, the son of the Muslim attendant of my father sat on my right side, and the son of a fisherman sat on my left. They were my playmates. I listened spellbound to their stories of birds, animals, and aquatic creatures. Perhaps these stories created in my mind a keen interest in investigating the workings of Nature.

When I returned home from school accompanied by my school fellows, my mother welcomed and fed all of us without discrimination. Although she was an orthodox old-fashioned lady, she never considered herself guilty of impiety by treating these ‘untouchables’ as her own children.

It was because of my childhood friendship with them that I could never feel that there were ‘creatures’ who might be labeled ‘low-caste’. I never realized that there existed a ‘problem’ common to the two communities, Hindus and Muslims.”

– Sir J C Bose

Interest towards Natural Science

He joined the St. Xavier’s School, Kolkata and then the University of Calcutta. This is the place where he met Father Eugene Lafont, who played a major role in developing his interest in Natural Science.

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After graduating from the college, Bose wished to compete in the Indian Civil Services like his father. But, his father canceled the plan because he wanted his son to be a scholar who “rule nobody but himself.” 

He got admission in Christ’s College, Cambridge to study natural sciences. He received his BA degree from the University of Cambridge and BSc from the University of London. The Indian Scholar then went on to secure a DSc from the University of London.

Some of the prominent figures under whom Sir Bose studied were – 
Lord Rayleigh, Michael Foster, James Dewar, Francis Darwin, Francis Balfour, and Sidney Vines. He was also influenced by Sister Nivedita who helped him by editing his manuscripts and organizing the financial support.

Radio Research

Sir Jagadish Bose is one of the founders of the Radio Waves and is honored by the IEEE as one of the Fathers of the Radio Science. However, his research in the field was not intended on communication side, but for studying the nature of the phenomenon.

“The invisible light can easily pass through brick walls, buildings etc. Therefore, messages can be transmitted by means of it without the mediation of wires.”

Bose wrote in a Bengali essay, Adrisya Alok (Invisible Light), 

Sir Bose planned to perfect his researches but never to patent it. He would openly discuss them in public meetings and halls. One of his US friends tried to pursue him to patent them, but he was not interested. 

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Instead of trying to gain commercial benefit from this invention, Bose made his inventions public in order to allow others to further develop his research.

Bose is also credited for being the first one to use a semiconductor junction to detect radio waves, and he invented various now-commonplace microwave components. 

“J.C. Bose was at least 60 years ahead of his time. In fact, he had anticipated the existence of P-type and N-type semiconductors.”

– The 1977 Nobel Laureate, Sir Nevill Francis Mott 

Plant Research 

Sir J C Bose made several pioneering discoveries in plant physiology. His major contribution includes the invention of the Crescograph. A device used for measuring the growth in plants. 

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Through his Crescograph, he measured plant response to various stimuli, and thereby scientifically proved parallelism between animal and plant tissues. He also invented several other instruments which would help in detecting even the slightest of change in plants. This revealed a striking discovery  such as quivering of injured plants. This lead to establishing that just like animals, plants too, have ‘Feelings’.

Image result for The Nervous Mechanism of Plants (1926).

He wrote 2 books on the subject – The Response in the Living and Non- Living (1902) and The Nervous Mechanism of Plants (1926).

Legacy of Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose

Due to his objections to patenting his works, his position in Science is being re-evaluated. Many of his discoveries and inventions have helped others carry out their researches successfully. 

Jagadish Chandra Bose

His inventions are still usable even after being more than a century old. What’s astonishing is most of them are of the modern form. Such as the antennas, polarizers, and waveguides.

Sir J C Bose was nominated for his contribution to the WiFi Technology, to be the face of the new 50 UK Pound Currency Note which will feature an eminent Scientist. 

Honors

  • Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (1903)
  • Companion of the Order of the Star of India (1912)
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  • Knight Bachelor (1917)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society (1920)
  • Member of the Vienna Academy of Sciences, 1928
  • President of the 14th session of the Indian Science Congress in 1927.
  • Member of the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters in 1929.
  • Member of the League of Nations’ Committee for Intellectual Cooperation
  • A founding fellow of the National Institute of Sciences of India (now the Indian National Science Academy)
  • The Indian Botanic Garden was renamed in his honor as the “Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden” on 25 June 2009.

References

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