Science is an important part of our everyday life, even more so than we notice. From our fancy gadgets to the the technologies we can’t live without, from our humble light bulb to the space explorations, it is all gift of science and technology.
India has gifted some of the great Indian scientists to the world and their inventions prove the same. Before I begin reminding about those legendary names, let us remember few facts related to ancient and modern India; India has gifted the science of Ayurveda, the language of Sanskrit, grammar, hypnotism, chess, the decimal system, and more.
1. Prafulla Chandra Ray
Prafulla Chandra Ray was a scientist, chemist, educationist, industrialist, philanthropist, and more. He was known as one of the most experienced academician and chemists. He was the person who formed the first pharmaceutical company of India – The Bengal Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals.
Prafulla was the author of the book A History of Hindu Chemistry from the Earliest Times to the Middle Sixteenth Century. He remained bachelor in his entire life to dedicate himself in the subject of medicines and take active participation in politics. An autobiography on his life and experiences has been written on Prafulla Chandra Ray. He was selected in many initiatives and political issues subjects on the basis of his experiences and skills.
2. Salim Moizuddin Abdul Ali
Salim Moizuddin Abdul Ali was a renowned naturalist and ornithologist. He was titled as the ‘Birdman of India’. He was the first person to do survey and research on birds. Several books on birds are also written by Salim Ali. The popular book Handbook of the ‘Birds of India and Pakistan’ is written by him.
Salim Ali was honored with the Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan of India awards. In fact, several birds’ species and bird sanctuaries are named after him due to his dedication on the subject. Ornithology became more popular after his thesis and works. One of the thoughts written by Ali waqs;
3. Srinivasa Ramanujan
Srinivasa Ramanujan has remained a legendary mathematician ever since the British rule of India. He never took any proper training in Math subject but, his contributions have given new meaning to the subject. He created a sensation in the subject by his logic’s and gave rise to the minds of many other mathematicians. Some of his contributions include; number theory, continued fractions, infinite series, and mathematical analysis.
Srinivasa related his knowledge and interest in Math with divinity. Some of his golden words were; “An equation for me has no meaning, unless it expresses a thought of God.” When Srinivasa showed his mathematical books to the deputy collector, V. Ramaswamy Aiyer, Aiyer expressed his words as follows;
4. Homi Jehangir Bhabha
Born on October 30, 1909 in Bombay, Homi Jehangir Bhabha played an important role in the Quantum Theory. He was the first person to become the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India. Having started his scientific career in nuclear physics from Great Britain, Bhabha returned to India and played a key role in convincing the Congress Party’s senior leaders, most notably Jawaharlal Nehru, to start the ambitious nuclear programme.
Bhabha is generally acknowledged as the father of Indian nuclear power. But few people know that he was absolutely against India manufacturing atomic bombs, even if the country had enough resources to do so. Instead he suggested that the production of an atomic reactor should be used to lessen India’s misery and poverty.
Homi Jehangir Bhabha was a popular nuclear physicist, and founder of physics at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (also referred to as TIFR). Born to a wealthy Parso family, Bhabha selflessly continued supporting the nation with his endless theories and innovations in the subject of Physics. His first scientific contribution was the newspaper, ’The Absorption of Cosmic Radiation’. The paper gave him further supported him to enter the ISAAC Newton Studentship. It was during the World War 2 when he returned to India and decided he will never leave India.
5. Jagadish Chandra Bose
Born in Munshiganj, Bengal Presidency, during British governance of India (now in Bangladesh), Bose graduated from St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta (now Kolkata, West Bengal, India). He went to the University of London, England to study medicine, but could not pursue studies in medicine because of health problems. Instead, he conducted his research with the Nobel Laureate Lord Rayleigh at Cambridge and returned to India. He joined the Presidency College of the University of Calcutta as a professor of physics. There, despite racial discrimination and a lack of funding and equipment, Bose carried on his scientific research. He made progress in his research into radio waves in the microwave spectrum and was the first to use semiconductor junctions to detect radio waves.
Jagadish Bose was a physicist, botanist, biologist, and polymath. He was also a known archaeologist and early writer of science fiction during British India. Various science institutes and organizations also titled him as ‘one of the fathers of radio science.’ He was also honored with the title of the father of Bengali Science Fiction. Some of his major inventions include the crescograph. Few of his discoveries include plant physiology, feelings in the plants, and electromagnetism. He wrote for various scientific papers too.
6. C.V. Raman
Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman was a legendary physicist who made phenomenal works in the subject light scattering. Despite receiving so many awards and accolades, he remained grounded and continued to contribute to the nation with his excellent knowledge and skills.
In fact, he was the first Asian Indian to have written on one of the branches of science. Some of his popular works include; Indian Journal of Physics (1926), founded the Indian Academy of Sciences, established the Raman Research Institute, the discovery of the phenomenon of light scattering (also known as the Raman Effect).
One of Raman’s interests was on the scientific basis of musical sounds. He was inspired by Hermann von Helmholtz’s The Sensations of Tone, the book he came across when he joined IACS. He published his findings prolifically between 1916 and 1921. He worked out the theory of transverse vibration of bowed string instruments based on superposition of velocities. One of his earliest studies was on the wolf tone in violins and cellos. He studied the acoustics of various violin and related instruments, including Indian stringed instruments, and water splashes. He even performed what he called “Experiments with mechanically-played violins.”
Raman also studied the uniqueness of Indian drums. His analyses of the harmonic nature of the sounds of tabla and mridangam were the first scientific studies on Indian percussions. He wrote a critical research on vibrations of the pianoforte string that was known as Kaufmann’s theory. During his brief visit of England in 1921, he managed to study how sound travels in the Whispering Gallery of the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral in London that produces unusual sound effects. His work on acoustics was an important prelude, both experimentally and conceptually, to his later works on optics and quantum mechanics.
7. Satyendra Nath Bose
Satyendra Nath Bose was the well renowned Indian physicists. He showed wide range of interests and knowledge in subjects such as; chemistry, biology, mineralogy, arts, literature, music, and mathematics. His contributions made India proud and several committees in sovereign benefited from his skills and knowledge. Some of his major works include; quantum mechanics, founded the Bose-Einstein Statistics, Theory of the Bose-Einstein Condensate, and many other topics related to theoretical physics.
Bose attended Hindu School in Calcutta, and later attended Presidency College, also in Calcutta, earning the highest marks at each institution, while fellow student and future astrophysicist Meghnad Saha came second. He came in contact with teachers such as Jagadish Chandra Bose, Prafulla Chandra Ray and Naman Sharma who provided inspiration to aim high in life. From 1916 to 1921, he was a lecturer in the physics department of the Rajabazar Science College under University of Calcutta. Along with Saha, Bose prepared the first book in English based on German and French translations of original papers on Einstein’s special and general relativity in 1919. In 1921, he joined as Reader of the Department of Physics of the recently founded University of Dhaka (in present-day Bangladesh). Bose set up whole new departments, including laboratories, to teach advanced courses for MSc and BSc honours and taught thermodynamics as well as James Clerk Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetism.
Satyendra Nath Bose, along with Saha, presented several papers in theoretical physics and pure mathematics from 1918 onwards. In 1924, while working as a Reader (Professor without a chair) at the Physics Department of the University of Dhaka, Bose wrote a paper deriving Planck’s quantum radiation law without any reference to classical physics by using a novel way of counting states with identical particles. This paper was seminal in creating the important field of quantum statistics. Though not accepted at once for publication, he sent the article directly to Albert Einstein in Germany. Einstein, recognising the importance of the paper, translated it into German himself and submitted it on Bose’s behalf to the prestigious Zeitschrift für Physik. As a result of this recognition, Bose was able to work for two years in European X-ray and crystallography laboratories, during which he worked with Louis de Broglie, Marie Curie, and Einstein.
8. Har Gobind Khorana
Har Gobind Khorana (9 January 1922 – 9 November 2011) was an Indian American biochemist. While on the faculty of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, he shared the 1968 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Marshall W. Nirenberg and Robert W. Holley for research that showed the order of nucleotides in nucleic acids, which carry the genetic code of the cell and control the cell’s synthesis of proteins. Khorana and Nirenberg were also awarded the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University in the same year.
After years of work, he was the first in the world to complete the total synthesis of a functional gene outside a living organism in 1972. He did this by extending the above to long DNA polymers using non-aqueous chemistry and assembled these into the first synthetic gene, using polymerase and ligase enzymes that link pieces of DNA together, as well as methods that anticipated the invention of polymerase chain reaction (PCR). These custom-designed pieces of artificial genes are widely used in biology labs for sequencing, cloning and engineering new plants and animals, and are integral to the expanding use of DNA analysis to understand gene-based human disease as well as human evolution. Khorana’s invention(s) have become automated and commercialized so that anyone now can order a synthetic oligonucleotide or a gene from any of a number of companies. One merely needs to send the genetic sequence to one of the companies to receive an oligonucleotide with the desired sequence.
9. Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was an Indian aerospace scientist who served as the 11th president of India from 2002 to 2007. He was born and raised in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu and studied physics and aerospace engineering.
After graduating from the Madras Institute of Technology in 1960, Kalam joined the Aeronautical Development Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (by Press Information Bureau, Government of India) as a scientist after becoming a member of the Defence Research & Development Service (DRDS).
In 1963 to 1964, he visited NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia; Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; and Wallops Flight Facility. Between the 1970s and 1990s, Kalam made an effort to develop the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and SLV-III projects, both of which proved to be successful.
Switzerland declared 26th May as the Science Day in honor of visiting of Late shiri Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. Kalam’s other notable political and technical contributions include the Pokhran-II (India’s first nuclear test), Wings of Fire, India 2020, Ignited Minds, and more…
10. Dr. Meghnad Saha
Dr. Meghnad Saha was an Indian astrophysicist who developed the Saha ionization equation, used to describe chemical and physical conditions in stars. His work allowed astronomers to accurately relate the spectral classes of stars to their actual temperatures
He also invented an instrument to measure the weight and pressure of solar rays. But did you know, he was also the chief architect of river planning in India? He prepared the original plan for the Damodar Valley Project.