Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose - from New Horizons Text Book
Study material for I. B.Tech students of JNTU, Anantapur.
Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose was a man of many talents hailed from British era Bengal. He was a physicist, biologist, botanist, archaeologist and an early writer of science fiction. He did pioneering research in the fields of radio and microwave optics, contributed greatly in shaping botany as a subject, and also laid the foundations of experimental science in India.
Bose was born in Bikrampur on 30 November 1858 to Bhagaban Chandra Bose who was a Deputy Magistrate of Faridpur. In 1869, Bose was sent to Kolkata, where, after spending 3 months at the Hare School he was admitted to St Xavier’s College. In 1879, Jagadish passed his BA examination in the Physical sciences from Calcutta University. In 1884, Bose obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Natural Sciences and a Bachelor of Science from the University of London.
Bose stands out among scientists before and after him in his staunch unwillingness to patent his inventions. He believed that science should be applied for the benefit of mankind rather than being harnessed for money-making purposes. In keeping with this belief, in a Friday Evening Discourse at the Royal Institution, London, he made public his construction of the coherer, a radio receiver for radio waves.
It is important to mention a few words about Bose’s father, Bhagaban Chandra. who was no ordinary civil servant, but a man of many ideas. Though he worked for the British government, he was devoted to the nationalist cause. To help the common people, he invested a great deal into several business initiatives. He started workshops in carpentry, metal turning, general metalwork, and even a foundry. The young Jagadish Chandra imbibed his father’s ideals and lived by them throughout his life, although many of Bhagaban Chandra’s initiatives were unsuccessful and he left behind heavy debts which his son had to pay off later.
After coming back to India, Bose joined Presidency College as a professor of Physics in Kolkata in 1885, the first Indian to do so. His appointment was strongly opposed by Sir Alfred Croft, then Director of Public Instruction of Bengal and Charles R. Tawney, the principal of the college. But so high was Bose’s merit that Lord Ripon, then Viceroy of India, personally intervened to ensure that he got the appointment.
Bose did pioneering research, first in physics and then in physiology. In 1888, the physicist Heinrich Rudolf Hertz had produced and detected electromagnetic waves in the 60 cm wavelength range. This achievement also verified James Clerk Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory. However, it was Bose who first produced millimetre-length radio waves and studied their properties. He also perfected the method of J.C. Bose Dream 2047 CMY transmission and the reception of electromagnetic waves.
In 1894, Bose decided to pursue scientific research and not to be confined with teaching assignment alone. Later, Bose devised and fabricated a new type of radiator for generating radio waves. He also built a unique and highly sensitive ‘coherer’ or radio receiver for receiving radio waves. In 1897, Bose described to the Royal Institution in London his research carried out in Kolkata at millimetre wavelengths.
In recent years, there has been welcome news of credit finally being given to Bose for his pioneering work in the area of wireless telegraphy. From metals he turned his attention to plants and was fully devoted his time on the responses of the living and non-living and the physiological properties of plant tissues and the similarity of their behaviour with that of animal tissues. In 1900, Bose presented an excellent paper “On the Similarity Responses of Inorganic and Living Matter” before the Paris International Congress of Physicists.
Bose demonstrated that plant tissues under different kinds of stimuli, like mechanical, application of heat, electric shock, chemicals, and drugs, produce and electric response similar to that produced by animal tissues. He also tried to demonstrate that similar electric response to stimulation could be noticed in certain inorganic systems. For his investigations, Bose invented several novel and highly sensitive instruments. Among these the most important one was the Cresco graph – an instrument for measuring the growth of a plant. It could record a growth as small as 1/100,000 inch per second.
Bose retired from educational service as Senior Professor of Physics in 1915. However, he continued his investigations in plant physiology and was also working towards the establishment of a research institute. Bose was knighted by the British Government in 1916 and in the year he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) of London in 1928. In the year, 1937 he passed away at Giridih in Bihar.
Prepared by: Byreddy Balaji Reddy, Sr. Lecturer in English, JNTUACE, KALIKIRI.