Who Was Jagadish Chandra Bose?

The physicist who made pioneering contributions to biology and radio science.

jagadish chandra bose biography facts

There are only a handful of people whose legacy goes on to live for-ever. Indian scientist Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose is one of them, as you shall see. He was born in Bikrampur, present-day Bangladesh, on November 30, 1858. His father was a colleague of reformist Raja Ram Mohan Roy and his mother was a housewife.

Early education

Most of Bose's education was conducted in Calcutta. After graduation in 1879, he wanted to compete for Indian Civil Service examination but his father, Bhagawan Chandra Bose, cancelled that plan. He wanted his son to become a science scholar instead, which was why, he sent Jagadish to London for further training.

Change of Plans

At first, Bose was enrolled at University of London so to become a doctor. However, he had to quit it mid-way because of illness due to the odour in dissection rooms. Therefore, he shifted his attention to natural sciences and earned a general-sciences degree from the University of Cambridge in 1884.

Work with Waves

After returning from England, Bose became a professor of physics at Presidency College, Calcutta. During a November 1894 lecture, he ignited gunpowder and rang a bell at a distance using millimetre long microwaves. He wrote: "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 perfected his long-distance communication technique (he invented various microwave components in doing so) but never ever thought of patenting it, unlike his European colleagues, such as Marconi, who himself was developing a telegraphy technique using radio waves.

Fun fact: In 1997, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) named Bose as one of the fathers of radio science.

Plant research

Bose's work with plants was one of a kind. He exposed plants to various stimuli such as microwaves, heat, chemicals, etc. By the help of his own invention, crescograph, a plant movement detector, Bose proved scientifically a parallel between animal and plant tissues. Other striking results were obtained, such as, quivering of injured plants, which Bose interpreted as a power of feeling in plants.

Agnosticism

According to his colleagues, Jagadish Chandra Bose was 60 years ahead of time. He was not only remarkable by intellect but also a very progressive human being by character. Furthermore, he was married to renowned feminist and social worker, Abala Bose.

During a conference in 1915, Bose recalled: "In the 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. 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."

Bose grew up worshipping science and scientific method. He believed agnosticism to be the real essence of science and scientific method. A man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has "no scientific grounds" for professing to know or believe. Bose laid the foundations of "Basu Bigyan Mandir" (Bose Institute) in Kolkata, West Bengal.


He said: I dedicate today this Institute, not merely a Laboratory but a Temple. The power of physical methods applies to the establishment of that truth which can be realized directly through our senses, or through the vast expansion of the perceptive range by means of artificially created organs.

Teaching

According to physicist Satyendra Nath Bose, one of the students of Sir J.C. Bose at Presidency College, he was a brilliant teacher whose classes were visually appealing and interactive in style.

But, as a researcher, he faced racial discrimination at the University, because the British Empire continued to assert its control over Indian educational institutions. Bose was denied entry into the laboratories and his funding was often cut short.

Despite it all, J.C. Bose remained a devoted professor there for more than 30 years. In 1917, he established his own research institute and served as its director until his death in 1937.


Summing up

J.C. Bose is a celebrated figure not only for his groundbreaking discoveries and inventions in science but also for his work as an educator. His life's mission was to discourage brain-drain by providing competent research facilities in the country itself. Today, J.C. Bose is remembered as the founder of modern scientific research in India.

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