header ads

Acharya Jagdish Chandra Bose: An unassuming Bengali scientist

Today the whole world remembers Guglielmo Marconi as the inventor of the wireless telegraph. But a Bengali scientist who could have been the inventor of radio for similar research at that time, who knows? I am talking about the unassuming Bengali scientist Acharya Jagdish Chandra Bose who invented quite a few machines but was not particularly fond of patents*. He even made his paper on the use of semiconductors in radio signal detection open so that other scientists could study it. If not, this Mahatma would be the owner of several patents today. After many requests from colleagues, he signed only one patent. While searching about him, I found a lot of information, which is unknown to many Bengalis.

Jagdish Chandra Bose
Jagdish Chandra Bose
Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose (known to British scientists as J.C. Bose) was one of the few scientists known in the history of the Indian subcontinent. He was foremost among the Bengali scientists in the practice of experimental science. He was the first to prove that there are many similarities between animals and plants. Let's know about this Bengali scientist, his life and discoveries.

Birth and Education

Jagdish Chandra Bose was born on November 30, 1858 in Munshiganj, Bengal Presidency (now Bangladesh) during the then British rule. Father Bhagavan Chandra Bose was a prominent member of the Brahmo Samaj of that time. Worked as Deputy Magistrate and at the same time as Assistant Commissioner of some areas including Faridpur, Burdwan.

Despite being born in the British period, Jagdish Chandra's education began in his native language i.e. Bengali. At that time, parents were always eager to educate their children in English. Jagadish Chandra's father's role in starting his education career in Bengali language was more important than this environment. Father Bhagwan Chandra Bose believed that the first step to education is mastering one's mother tongue and instilling patriotism in one's heart. Then either foreign language can be learned. At that time, such thoughts were only acceptable in the mouth of a patriot.

In his speech at the conference at Vikrampur in 1915, Bose said,

“ In our time, it was a symbol of nobility to enroll children in English schools. In the Swadeshi school where I was admitted, the son of my father's Muslim servant sat on my right and a jailer's son sat on my left. They were my playmates. I listened like a hypnotist to the stories they told about the animals, the stories of the aquatic creatures. Perhaps these stories inspired me to research the workings of nature. When we came back home after class, my mother would let us eat together. My mother was a devout and traditional housewife. But it was not in his nature to be dogmatic about religion. So he was quite compassionate towards the untouchable boys accompanying his son. "

Later in 1869, Jagadish Chandra was admitted to Calcutta Hair School and then to St. Xavier's School. Later, in 1875, after passing the then entrance (which is now equivalent to Madhyamik), he was admitted to St. Xavier's College and then got an opportunity to study at Calcutta University. He gained close proximity to Father Eugene Lafont, the Christian pastor of St. Xavier's College and his nature-inquiring mindset was formed under the influence of Father.

After graduating from Calcutta University, Bose wanted to join the Indian Civil Service. But his father got in the way. Although his father himself was a civil servant. But he (Jagadish Chandra's father) wanted his son to do something so that he could do his work independently without being under anyone. On that occasion, Bose went to England and enrolled in the Department of Medicine at the University of London. But could not read for a long time. He often fell ill while studying medicine. The strong stench of corpses and drugs in the morgue aggravated his illness. As a result, he left in the end.

Later, he was admitted to Christ's College, Cambridge on the recommendation of Anandamohan Bose, the husband of Jagdish Chandra's sister, the prominent debater of India at that time. He received a BA degree in Natural Sciences Tripos** from the University of Cambridge, a BSc degree from the University of London in 1884 and then a DSc degree in 1896 (Note that natural science refers to the branch of science that deals with the external nature of the earth. Basically physics. , the scope of the natural sciences as a combination of chemistry, geology and biology).

As a student at Cambridge, Bose was tutored by notables including Nobel laureate Lord Raleigh, Michael Foster, James Dewar, Francis Darwin, Francis Balfer and Sidney Vines. While Bose was a student at Cambridge, another legend of Bengal, the chemist Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy, was a student at Edinburgh. The beginning of their acquaintance and intimacy while in London. Bose later became associated with prominent women's movement advocate and social activist Abla Bose.

Working life

He returned to India after completing his education in 1885. At that time he joined Presidency College as Acting Professor of Physics at the request of Lord Ripon. On entering the job, he felt intense communalism among the other teachers in the college. Because his salary was very insignificant compared to what British professors were getting. He could not accept this arrangement. So in protest he did not accept any salary for about three years, but did not deviate from his work as a professor. He has been teaching students for these three years without salary. Later he was taken on as a permanent professor in the efforts of the Principal of Public Instruction and Presidency College and was given his full salary for three years. Such was our boss.

At that time Presidency College had some other shortcomings. There were no good quality laboratories, no facilities for basic research. But Bose did not sit back hoping for help from the college. He himself created a fund for research with his own money. In 1994, he researched Harzian waves and discovered what we would later know as millimeter waves.

His achievements as a professor are not less. Notable among his beloved students were Satyendra Nath Bose, Meghnad Saha, Gnanachandra Ghosh, Prashant Chandra, Mahalnavis, Shishir Kumar Mitra, Devendra Mohan Bose and many more. Later they all contributed in various fields of science.

Contribution to Science: Radio Research

The Scottish theoretical physicist Maxwell was able to mathematically prove the existence of electromagnetic radiation waves of different wavelengths. But he died before that theory could be experimentally proven. Later, between 1886 and 1888, German physicist Heinrich Herz published his research papers on electromagnetic waves and proved the existence of electromagnetic waves in vacuum. After Herz's death, British physicist Oliver Lodge did more research on magnetism and pointed out the quasi-optical nature of Herzian waves. He also said that this wave has properties like reflection, refraction like visible light. At that time his research attracted the attention of many other scientists including Bose.

Jagdish Chandra Lodge further developed this research. He found that waves of large wavelengths were far behind in explaining the light nature of waves. So he reduced the wave to millimeters (about 5 mm). Sometime in November 1894, Bose ignited gunpowder in the Calcutta Town Hall with his millimeter wave and was able to strike a bell located 75 feet away from the Town Hall. Needless to say, this wave had to hit a wall to ring the bell. In his book 'Invisible Light' written on these microwaves, he wrote that invisible light (i.e. microwaves) can easily pass through brick walls and even buildings. As a result, any message can be easily transmitted from one place to another without wires.

Bose published his first paper " On polarization of electric rays by double-refracting crystals " in May 1895, almost a year after the publication of Lodge's paper . In October of the same year, his second paper was delivered to the Royal Society of London by Lord Rall. After his paper ' On a new electro-polariscope ' was published in the London journal 'Electrician' in December 1995, the 'Electrician' commented:

“Should Professor Bose succeed on perfecting and patenting his ‘Coherer’***, we may in time see the whole system of coast lighting throughout the navigable world revolutionized by a Bengali Scientist working single handed in our Presidency College Laboratory.”

Yes, Jagdish Chandra Bose got his research right. But could not patent. To put it very well, he did not want to patent.

Then he went to London and met the scientist Marconi. Marconi had been working on wireless telegraphy for a long time. The telegraph he wanted to develop for the British Postal Service was very commercial. There Bose expressed his distaste for commercial telegraphy. According to him, science education or research should not be considered from a commercial point of view. He also advises others to work on his thesis. But he never once thought about the copyright of his research. Later in 1899 he published his research paper called ' Iron-Mercury-Iron Coherer with Telephone Detector ' in a Royal Society paper.

His contribution to the development of radio

Bose's work was mainly on the theoretical aspects of radio microwave optics. That is, he was able to explain the nature and mechanism of these waves in his research. But he did not intend or take steps towards the development of wireless devices for the purpose of communication through his research. Interestingly, while he was researching radio waves, Marconi was also researching the same subject. The only difference is that Bose is doing theoretical research, he is not concerned with the development of machinery. But Marconi continued to develop wireless devices and made great strides in the development of the wireless telegraph.

During the contemporary period, other scientists also started working on the use of radio waves. For example, Russian scientist Alexander Stepanovich Popov was trying to make a lightning detector using radio waves. Bose had no interest in developing radio equipment. He even made his research papers open for the convenience of other scientists. He had a strong passion for patents. Following this, he explained the working mechanism of his invented Galena crystal detector in his lecture. An American friend of his asked him to get a patent for this device but he did not.

His significant contribution to radio research was that he was the first to use semiconductor junctions to detect radio waves. He is also the inventor of many microwave devices used today. From his research in 1954, Pearson and Brattain used semiconductor crystals to detect radio waves.

The reader may remember that Jagdish Chandra once rang a distant bell in Calcutta using millimeter waves. He explained his work at the Royal Institution in London in 1897. At that time he used wave guide (Wave guide****), horn antenna, di-electric lens, polarizer and semiconductor which produced wave frequency of about 60 gigahertz. Several of the devices he invented at that time are still preserved at the Bose Institute. It is surprising to know that the 1.3 mm multi-beam receiver developed from his research is now being used in the NRAO 12 Meter Telescope located in Arizona, USA.

Speaking about Bose, Nobel laureate Sir Neville Mott said, “ J. C. Bose was thinking 60 years ahead of his own time. In fact, he foresaw today's P-type and N-type semiconductors at that time. ” Sir Neville Mott won the Nobel Prize in 1977 for his contributions to solid-state electronics. Bose's research was very influential behind his research.

Plant Physiology: Introduction to Vibrational Theory

A large part of Bose's contribution to science covers biophysics or biophysics. He researched and demonstrated that electron flow can occur under the influence of various external influences on plants. It was once described as a chemical reaction. Bose later proved this idea experimentally. He was also the first person to observe the effect of microwaves on plant tissue and the resulting changes in cell membrane potential. Cell membrane potential refers to the difference in electrical potential between the cell membrane and the cell membrane (usually -40 millivolts to -80 millivolts).

In 1901, Bose, by observing cell membrane dynamics in different ways, under different conditions and at different times, hypothesized that plants are capable of responding to external influences like animals, that is, there are some similar characteristics within them. They are capable of feeling pain, capable of feeling pleasure, even capable of feeling affection. He also proved that plants have a proper life cycle and reproductive system similar to animals. This research paper of his then took place in the Royal Society of London.

Bose proved that plants can also respond to heat, cold, light, sound and many other external stimuli. And for this proof, he made a special device called Crescograph. The specialty of this instrument is that it is capable of recording the stimulation produced in plants under the influence of external influences. It was able to show plant cells magnified about 10,000 times their normal size so that the pulsations or movements caused by external influences on the plant cells could easily be observed. By this he saw that there are several similarities between plant cells and animal cells.

A chrysograph instrument is basically made up of a series of gears and ground/rubbed glass plates. This glass plate is able to record the movement of plants. As mentioned earlier, its magnification is about 10,000 times. As a result, when the light reflected from the plant falls on this glass plate, the scene appears on the plate accordingly. The plate reflects the movement and tension of the plant cells and changes accordingly. Under the influence of external stimuli, this pulse beat of the plant is reflected on the plate in the form of light points and moves. Bose was the first to give this pulsation theory of plants.

He performed this experiment in the presence of other eminent scientists in the Central Hall of the Royal Society of London. Other scientists observed his activities with great interest. Bose first took a branch or data of the plant and dipped it in bromide solution. Note that salts of hydrobromic acid are generally toxic. He then turned on the crysograph and began to observe. The pulsation of the plant cells under the influence of the poison caused the reflected spot of light to oscillate on the plate, much like a pendulum. As time went on the throbbing started to increase in intensity and suddenly stopped. Just as a poisoned rat becomes excited by the effects of the poison and becomes dull for a time, the plants also become dull. Plants die due to bromide.

This test was received with appreciation by all. However, some plant physiologists were not satisfied with this and described him as an unauthorized entrant into botany. However, Jagadish Chandra did not give up. He then conducted further experiments with the help of a crysograph. Observed the response of plants to other external stimuli such as fertilizers, light, radio waves, electricity, chemicals etc. Many physiologists supported his theory after experiments with modern instruments. He scientifically proved that plant and animal cells are similar.

Metal Fatigue and Cell Response

Bose conducted comparative experiments and observations on metal fatigue (or, simply speaking, metal fatigue). Observes the effect of mechanical effects, thermal effects, chemical effects and even electrical effects on metals. With this observation he found similarities between the effects of various effectors on plant cells. He was also able to plot a graph of the electrical properties caused by the effect of an electric current on plant cells. He also observed cell excitability by applying poison.

Science fiction

Kabiguru Rabindranath's friendship with Jagdish Chandra was deep. Although Kabiguru was well versed in literature, he had absolutely zero knowledge of science, while Bose was proficient in science but insignificant in literary knowledge. As a result of their friendship, on the one hand Rabindranath Bose knew about science and Bose knew about literature from Rabindranath. Rabindranath was able to influence Bose quite a bit. Because in 1896 Bose wrote the story ' The Story of the Missing One ' . Later, however, it was expanded and compiled under the name 'Palatak Tufan' in the work called 'Abyakta'. This is the first science fiction in Bengali language. In other words, Bengali science fiction has also come through his hands.


Although Jagdish Chandra did not receive any patents during his lifetime for his own research or inventions, his contributions to the field of radio waves are acknowledged by the present day scientific community. He is referred to as the father of wireless communication. He is regarded today as a pioneer in wireless communication by inventing millimeter waves. Many of his inventions are still in use today including various types of antennas, polarizers and waveguides. Although now they have been modernized.

The polymath scientist died on November 23, 1937 at the age of 78. A volcanic crater on the moon is named 'Bose Crater' in his memory. Bose Crater is about 91 km in diameter.

To commemorate his birth centenary, the scholarship system was introduced in West Bengal in 1958. In the same year, the Government of India issued a postage stamp bearing his image in his memory. On September 14, 2012, his millimeter wave research was recognized as a Milestone in Electrical and Computer Engineering by the IEEE.

The Indian Botanical Garden was named 'Acharya Jagdish Chandra Bose Indian Botanical Garden' in his memory. On 30 November 2016, on his 158th birth anniversary, he was commemorated in a Google Doodle. He was also awarded various titles during his lifetime, such as Knight Bachelor. Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, Member of the Vienna Academy of Sciences. Jagadish Chandra Bose established the Bose Institute of Science in Kolkata in 1937 shortly before his death.

Among the research books written by Bose are notable-

  • Response in the Living and Non-living
  • Plant response as a means of physiological investigation
  • Comparative Electro-physiology: A Physico-physiological Study
  • Researches on Irritability of Plants
  • Life Movements in Plants (Volume I)
  • Life Movements in Plants, (Volume II)
  • Physiology of the Ascent of Sap
  • The physiology of photosynthesis
  • The Nervous Mechanisms of Plants
  • Plant Autographs and Their Revelations
  • Growth and tropic movements of plants
  • Motor mechanism of plants

A polymath, the scientist has contributed to physics, biophysics, botany, archaeology, Bengali literature and Bengali science fiction. He was one of the pioneers in radio and microwave research and exploration. He is the one who initiated research-based scientific practice in the then Indian subcontinent. This unassuming scientist could have owned several patents if he wanted.

( *Patent : A patent refers to a government permission or license that indicates the inventor's ownership of an invention.

**Tripos:  Cambridge University Honors Examination.

***Coherer:  Scientist Oliver Lodge coined the term 'Coherer'. The term was used to mean receiver or detector of 'Harzian waves'.

****Wave Guide: A  metal tube that holds or conducts microwaves.)

Post a Comment