Life of Jagadishchandra Bose, Great Scientist

The Parents

Jagadishchandra Bose was born on the 30th of November 1858 in Faridpur in Dacca District. Faridpur was a part of India until 1947; now it is in Bangla Desh. His mother Abala Bose was a tenderhearted and affectionate woman. His father Bhagawanchandra Bose was a man of excellent qualities.

Early Education

As long back as a hundred year ago, Bhagawanchandra Bose started schools in which children were taught in Bengali. Jagadishchandra also received his early education in this school. Jagadish mixed with the poor boys freely and played with them; so he gained first hand knowledge of the sufferings of poor people.

There was another interesting person in his early life. This was a servant who used to take Jagadishchandra to school every day. He had been a dacoit in the past. Bhagawanchandra Bose as a judge had sent him to prison. After some time the dacoit came out of prison. But how was he to live? Bhagawanchandra Bose was a very good-natured man. So he employed him as a servant. The dacoit used to tell little Jagadishchandra. events of his past life the robberies he had committed and his cruel deeds. His adventures made a lasting impression on the boy.

Young Bose was all curiosity. He wanted to know about everything that happened around him. What is, a glow-warm? Is it fire or spark? Why does the wind blow? Why does the water flow? He was always ready with a string of questions. His father would answer as many questions as he could. But he never tried to impress upon his son that he knew everything. If he could not answer a question, he would frankly tell his son so. Thus Jagadish chandra’s parents took great interest not only in his studies but also in everything that shaped his character.

In Calcutta

Jagadishchandra began a new chapter in his life at the age of nine. He had to leave his hometown. He went to the big city of Calcutta for further education. He was admitted to Saint Xavier School there.

While he was studying at Saint Xavier’s, Jagadishchandra was staying in a boarding house. He had no friends and was lonely here. But he was a born scientist. Even as a boy he had many hobbles which showed his scientific interest. He used to breed frogs and fishes in a pond nearby. He would pull out a germinating plant and observe its root system. He had also a number of pets like rabbits, squirrels and non-poisonous snakes. Even in Calcutta he continued these hobbies to get over his solitude. He grew flower-bearing plants and had animals and birds as pets. He did well in his studies and was in the forefront. The teachers liked him for his intelligence. Jagadishchandra passed the School Final Examination in the First Class.

He joined the B.A. class in the college. In those days, science subjects formed a part of this course. He was most interested in Biology (the science of life). But Father Lafont, a famous Professor of Physics, inspired in Bose a great interest in the science of Physics and Bose became his favourite student. Even so, Bose was always interested in any branch of science. Botany, the science of plants, still attracted him much.

In London

By nineteen, Jagadishchandra was a Bachelor of Arts. He wanted to go to England for higher studies. Finally, his good mother allowed him to go. She had saved some money. She also wanted to sell her jewels to meet the expenses of her son’s voyage. Bhagawan chandra Bose prevented her and he managed to find the money on his own.

At last Jagadish was on his way to England. The year was 1880. Twenty- two-year-old Jagadishchandra Bose stepped into the ship; he was stepping into a new phase of life which laid the foundations of a brilliant future.

In London he first studied medicine. But he repeatedly fell ill. So he had to discontinue the course. He then studied Natural Science in Christ Church College, Cambridge. It was necessary to learn Latin in order to study Natural Science; Jagadish had already learnt it. He passed the Tripos Examination with distinction. In addition to the Cambridge Tripos Examination, he passed the Bachelor of Science Examination of London University also.

The Young Scientist  His Own Smith, Too

Jagadishchandra Bose was back in India. He joined the staff of the Presidency College, Calcutta. There was a peculiar practice in that college. The Indian teachers in the college were paid one third of what the British teachers were paid! So Jagadishchandra Bose refused his salary but worked for three years. This did not continue for long. His deep knowledge zest for work and cultured behavior won over those in charge of the college. They saw to it that he was given the full salary of the post and not one-third.

Teaching the same lessons year in and year out was very tedious to Bose. His was an alert mind, always on the look out for new ideas. He wanted to do research, to widen his knowledge and discover new things.

A laboratory is necessary for research. Many scientific instruments are required. Jagadishchandra Bose had no laboratory and he did not have the instruments. But he was not disheartened. For eight or ten years he spent as little out of his salary as possible, lived a very strict life, saved money and bought a laboratory!

Generally Marconi’s name is associated with the invention of wireless. (This made possible the use of the radio.) Jagadish chandra Bose had also conducted independent research in the same field. Marconi was able to announce the result of his work and show how wireless telegraphy worked, earlier than Jagadishchandra Bose. So he is called ‘the father of the radio’. In the year 1896 Bose wrote a research article on electro-magnetic waves. This impressed the Royal Society of England (which is famous all over the world). He was honoured with the Degree of Doctor of Science.

Bose became famous in the world of science. In India and in other countries there was a strong belief that only Westerners could achieve anything worthwhile in science. Bose proved this wrong concept. He showed that there were geniuses elsewhere too. He visited England again, this time to explain his discoveries to the scientists of the West.

Bose needed scientific equipment. But the instruments he needed were not available. But this did not hamper his work. Early in his life he had learnt to make his equipment with his own hands. The scientific instruments he took to England were those he himself had made.


After he lectured at the Royal Society, scientific associations in many other countries invited Jagadishchandra Bose. He visited France, Germany, America and Japan besides England. He lectured at several places and explained his discoveries.

When electricity passes through a man, animal or plant, we say there is a ‘shock’. When it is passed through a living being the being gets excited, ‘irritated’. Bose developed an instrument that would show such a reaction of the organism on a graph. When electricity was passed through zinc, a non-living substance, a similar graph was obtained. So he came to the conclusion that living and non-living things were very similar in certain reactions.

In Paris he gave a lecture on this similarity between the living and the non-living world. Have you heard of ‘radar`? This is a very wonderful scientific device. Sailors on the sea use it; it is also used to get information about aeroplanes coming towards a place. So you see how useful it is during a war. If the aeroplanes of the enemy try to attack a city, the radar shows their movement. J.C. Bose worked out some details of very great importance; these are being used in the working of the radar. When Jagadish chandra Bose again visited England, Cambridge University honoured him as a Professor.

Generally, when a man invents something new he declares that nobody can make use of it without his permission. If anybody desires to, make use of it, he will have to pay him money, Why? Because the inventor has worked hard and he has used his time and brains for his invention. It is not right to make use of his work without paying him. An inventor can make lakhs of rupees by just one or two inventions. Bose had invented many instruments. They have since been used by many industries. When he was offered money for these he did not accept it. He was very generous and noble; he felt that knowledge was not any one’s personal property. He permitted any one the use of the fruits of his work.

 When an outside stimulus is applied to the muscles of a man or a non-living thing (says a mineral), they respond to it. Bose wondered whether this could happen in a plant also. To test this he brought a leaf, a carrot and a turnip from the garden. He applied the stimulus, i.e., and electricity. It was confirmed that plants also respond in a similar way. Jagadishchandra Bose explained this at a meeting of the Royal Society.


When anything new is discovered, there will always be people who question it. The results of Bose’s work, too, were not accepted by all. There were people who challenged them and even said that there was not much truth in them. Bose gave a lecture at the Linnean Society next year to a gathering of scientists. He explained with suitable experiments how plants respond to stimuli. Even those who had challenged him could not find fault with his experiments or conclusions.

There is an interesting story about a demonstration that Bose gave in England. On that day he wanted to show some new things that he had found out. He had come to the conclusion that plants can feel pain like animals; that when we pinch them they suffer; and that they die in a few minutes after they are poisoned. Bose wanted to show experiments to prove these conclusions. A number of scientists and other leading men and women had gathered to hear him. Bose started the experiments by injecting poison into a plant. The plant should have shown signs of death in a few minutes. On the contrary, nothing happened. The learned audience started laughing. Even at this adverse moment Bose showed admirable calmness. He thought quickly. The poison that he injected into the plant did not kill it. So, he supposed that it would not hurt him also. With full confidence he got ready to inject the poison into himself. At that instant a man got up and confessed that instead of poison he had put similar colored water. Now, Bose conducted the experiment again with real poison, whereupon the plant withered and died as expected.

Jagadishchandra Bose continued his work and made new discoveries. He found that plants shrink a little during the night. He found out why plants always grow towards light even if they have to bend. He also found out the reason why some plants grow straight and some do not. He explained that this was due to the ‘pulsation’ in plants. This pulsation quickens by heat and slows down by cold in plants.

Jagadishchandra Bose did remarkable work, – and scientists outside India had honoured him. Yet there were people who opposed him. As a result even the Royal Society delayed publishing his valuable work in its publications, But nothing could make him give up his work. He was sure that years of research had led him to the truth. So he did not feel that it was very necessary to depend on scientific journals only. He wrote books and published them on his own.

The Questioning Boy – The Great Scientist

Nature had always been a source of attraction right from his early age to Bose. There are flowers on plants; flowers give fruits; the leaves fall off; seeds germinate into new plants – we see all these around us.

But Bose was interested in these happenings, which to many people seem quite ordinary. He asked others questions; he asked himself, too: ‘How do these things happen?’ Not always could he satisfy his curiosity. But it was his way to try to find answers to any questions arising in his mind.

Scientist And Man Of Letters

Jagadishchandra Bose was famous as a scientist. He brought laurels to his motherland. But his interests were many-sided. He was especially interested in literature and fine arts. The great poet Rabindranath Tagore and Jagadish chandra Bose were very good friends. The first time Tagore visited Bose, he was not at home. Tagore left a bunch of champak flowers. This was the beginning of their friendship.

Tagore invited Bose to stay with him for some time. Bose agreed to do so on one condition. The condition was that Tagore should narrate a story to him every day. This is how a number of Tagore’s stories  came to be written. Have you read the story ‘The Cabuliwallah’? It is very fine story; it narrates how a deep and strange friendship grew up between a rough pathan and a tine Bengali girl. This has been translated into several languages and is well known in a number of countries. Tagore wrote this story when Bose was staying with him.

Jagadishchandra Bose died in November 1937. To the very end he was busy with research. Wealth and power never attracted Jagadishchandra Bose. He toiled for science like a saint, selflessly. This great scientist is a great example to all.

Get inspired from Great Scientist Dr.Homi Bhabha

The Boy-Scientist

Homi Jehangir Bhabha was born in Bombay on October 30, 1909. In his childhood Bhabha used to sleep very little. The worried parents took him to several qualified doctors. But for sometime the reason for his sleeplessness could not be found out. At last doctors assured the parents that Bhabha was in excellent health. He did not sleep as long as other children of his age, because of his super- active brain and the continuous, rapid flow of thoughts.

His parents took interest in shaping Bhabha’s love of science. He was also provided with a small library. The library contained many science books.


Education and Research

Bhabha was educated at the Cathedral and John Cannon High School. He was a merit student. He won many prizes at school.

At the age of 15, Bhabha passed the Senior Cambridge Examination.

Later he entered Elphinstone College and the Royal Institute of Science, Bombay. He continued his studies here for two years.

Bhabha loved Physics. Mathematics was also his favorite subject. But his father wanted him to become an engineer. Bhabha respected the wishes of his father. He left India for Cambridge to study Engineering. Bhabha passed the Mechanical Engineering Tripos in the first class in 1930. He then pursued his studies in Theoretical Physics as a Research Scholar.


Research Pursued

homi1Bhabha was fortunate to come into close contact with famous scientists like Rutherford, Dirac, Niels Bohr and Heitler. This association greatly influenced his research and way of life.


The Study of Cosmic Rays

Bhabha presented, with Heitler, the ‘Cascade Theory of Electron Showers’, in 1937. It is called the ‘Bhabha-Heitler Cascade Theory’. It is a unique contribution to the world of Physics. This research brought fame to Bhabha. This theory explains the process of electron showers in cosmic rays.

Bhabha’s orginal contributions to Physics lie in the fields of cosmic radiation, theory of elementary particles and quantum theory.

Bhabha returned to India for a holiday in 1939. That was the time of the Second World War. Bhabha did not return to England and this was indeed fortunate for India.


In Bangalore

Bhabha could have got lucrative posts in any developed country. But he did not think of them. The material pleasures of foreign countries did not attract him. Bhabha decided to devote his life to the service of his motherland.

In 1940 Bhabha joined the Indian Institute of Science as Reader in Theoretical Physics. He shouldered the responsibility of building a new department to undertake research on cosmic rays. In 1941 he was elected a member of the Royal Society. When this great distinction was conferred on Bhabha, he was just 31 years old. Not many have been so honored at such a young age by the Royal Society.


In those days the equipment and facilities needed for research in Atomic Physics were not available in India. Realizing this, Bhabha formulated a plan to meet this need.

Bhabha was invited to join the staff of Oxford University. But he did not accept the invitation. He expressed his desire to build an excellent institution of research in India.

Bhabha wrote a letter to the Dorabji Tata Trust on March 13, 1944. In the course of the letter he said:

‘When nuclear energy has been success- fully applied to power production in, say, a couple of decades from now, India will not have to look abroad for its experts, but will find them ready at hand.’

Bhabha wrote this letter almost a year before the atom bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki! This letter clearly illustrates his far-sightedness and patriotism. Bhabha’s plan was an embryo from which a school of physics was born.


New Climate Created

The Tata Trust founded the – ‘Tata Institute of Fundamental Research’ in 1945. The establishment of the Institute was mainly due to the initiative of Bhabha

The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research is an outcome of the discussion that Bhabha had with the industrialist J. R. D. Tata, and the far-sighted decision of the Tata Trust to support Bhabha’s Project.




Bhabha was participating in a conference at Geneva in 1955. Canada came forward to build a Reactor in India. On August 29,1955, Bhabha sent a cable from Geneva to Nehru and requested him to approve the, acceptance of this offer. Within three days, Bhabha received the consent of the Prime Minister. The Canada-India Reactor ‘Cirus’ was born.

‘Apsara’, ‘Cirus’ and ‘Zerlina’ are the three reactors built by the Trombay scientists and engineers, with foreign assistance. The credit for establishing these reactors goes to Bhabha.

Having acquired these reactors, Bhabha planned to take up the actual construction of atomic power plants. The atomic power plant of Tarapur in Maharashtra is now producing electricity. The other two plants are situated at Rana Pratap Sagar in Rajasthan and Kalpakam in Tamil Nadu. These power plants will appreciably contribute to the production of electricity in India. These achievements are the living symbols of Bhabha’s imagination and dynamism.


Building Up A Team of Scientists

The early atomic age of India was a period of transition. At that time Bhabha gave a clarion call to all young scientists who were staying abroad; “Return to Trombay; return to the motherland.” Many young scientists listened to his call and came to Trombay. They are today among the reputed scientists in the country. Bhabha took personal care to provide necessary amenities to them.

Bhabha selected scientists with care. He placed them in positions of responsibility. He thus succeeded in building up a team of excellent workers around him. He created a suitable scientific atmosphere for his colleagues. Necessary materials and equipment were provided. He inspired the staff and gave them the freedom they needed to pursue their work. He gave them every opportunity to grow. Spotting scientific talent was his passion.

Discipline in all walks of life and a challenging attitude to accomplish the targets were his special characteristics. He instilled a sense of confidence in his fellow-workers so that project could be successfully completed.


His Contribution

On May 18, 1974, India conducted its first nuclear explosion for peaceful purposes, at Pokran in, Rajasthan and joined the galaxy of nations with atomic energy. The success of this achievement is due mainly to Bhabha who put India on the world map of nuclear science.


When Bhabha was invited to become the Minister of Atomic Energy in the Union Cabinet, he declined. Science was dearer to Bhabha than the charm of ministership.

Bhabha’s ambitions were sky-high but he also worked tirelessly to realize them. He was not a scientist who sat in an ivory tower. He was a man of action. He was a rare blending of idealism and realism.


Life is for Living

Bhabha was a bachelor. When once asked about his marriage, he said: “I am married to creativity.”

In 1938 Bhabha wrote in one of his letters: ‘You can give a new direction to everything in life-except death.’ These words show clearly the degree of his self-confidence.

Scientist-Artist- Leader

Bhabha often said: “A scientist does not belong to a particular nation. He belongs to the whole world. The doors of science should be kept open to all those who work for the welfare of humanity.”

Bhabha foresaw that a time might come when production of power may suffer because of the shortage of coal and oil. He firmly believed that the standard of living of our people could be improved only through fuller utilization of nuclear energy.

Bhabha opened up new vistas of atomic glory. Nuclear Physics attained a new dignity and a new status on account of his personality. India stepped right out of the bullock-cart age into the Atomic age. This ‘Atom Man’ diverted the atom from the path of destruction to that of construction.


Bridging two Cultures

Bhabha was proud but charming; thoughtful but gay. He was soft-spoken and well dressed. He believed in gracious living and loved things, which were beautiful and aesthetic. His interest spread beyond science to culture and art. He had an eye for detail; nothing escaped his penetrating eyes.

Bhabha did not want any friction between scientific culture and artistic Culture. He always tried to bridge the gap between these two cultures. He believed that both science and art should enrich human life. These thoughts made Bhabha a great humanist of his age.

Bhabha could have become a great musician or expert artist or a renowned writer, but he served the nation as a scientist. What is science for if not for research, truth and beauty?

Bhabha was a great patron of art and music. He once dreamt of a career as a composer. He gave encouragement to modern painters, purchased their works and displayed them on the walls of the buildings of Trombay Establishment. He was a lover of South Indian music and never missed any good performance of leading artists. A man of many talents, he had a wonderful collection of paintings. He was also a great collector of works of art. He could talk with authority on painting and music and on trees and plants and flowers, which he loved. He was a versatile genius.

He had a great love for trees and flowers. At his instance a number of trees were transplanted to the new premises of the Tata Institute. He saved many a tree from the clutches of death. He was indeed a ‘Friend of Trees.’

When the construction work at Trombay was in progress, Bhabha spent many sleepless nights and finalized the layout for the campus. Today it is a home of loveliness, with vast lawns, shady trees and multi-colored flowers. The Trombay Center faces the sea on one side and a tall hill on the other. Nature is at her loveliest at Trombay. Trombay is undoubtedly a living example of Bhabha’s taste for good things and love of the beauty of Nature.


The Tragic End

Bhabha was going to attend an international conference. He was on a mission of peace. The Air India Boeing 707 ‘Kanchenjunga’ in which Bhabha was travelling, crashed in a snowstorm on January 24, 1966 at Mout Blanc. Bhabha thus met with a tragic end. He died comparatively young and at the height of his fame. It was a loss too deep for tears. In the death of Dr. Bhabha India lost an eminent scientist and one of her great sons.

Bhabha had disliked the, practice of stopping work when some one passed away. He considered that the best homage was hard work. When the members of the staff at Trombay heard the news of Dr. Bhabha’s death, they worked as usual and thus paid their respect to their departed leader.

As a tribute to Dr. Bhabha, the Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay, was renamed as the Bhabha Atomic Research Center, on January 12, 1967.