Of the many great minds India has produced, Homi Jehangir Bhabha was one of them.

So powerful was Bhabha’s influence on this world that at one point, he was looked upon as a threat to western powers, especially the USA. So great was America’s fear that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) eventually ended up assassinating Homi Jehangir Bhaba.

In this article on the Father of Indian Nuclear Programme, we will take a look into 45 interesting Homi Jehangir Bhabha facts and learn about his early life, his scientific achievements, his role in spearheading India’s nuclear program, and a lot more. Let’s get started…

NameHomi Jehangir Bhabha
Birth DateOctober 30, 1909
Death DateJanuary 24, 1966
Known forIndian Nuclear ProgramCascade Process of Cosmic Radiations Point ParticlesBhabha ScatteringTheoretical Prediction of Muon
Awards WonAdams Prize (1942)Padma Bhushan (1954)Fellow of the Royal Society

Homi Bhabha Facts: 1-5

1. Homi J. Bhabha was born in a rich Parsi family on October 30, 1909 in Bombay of British India. His family was known for industrial acumen and he was related to the likes of Dorabji Tata and Dinshaw Maneckji Petit.

2. His family in particular had an illustrious past when it came to learning and serving the nation. His father was a well-known lawyer in India.

3. Cathedral and John Connon School located in Bombay (now Mumbai) was the place from where he received his early education.

4. At the age of 15, he passed the Senior Cambridge Examination with Honors and secured admission in Elphinstone College.

5. From there, he moved into the Royal Institute of Science and stayed there till 1927. Later, he moved to Caius College of Cambridge University.

Homi Bhabha Facts: 6-10

6. The reason why he moved to Caius College of Cambridge University is that his uncle Dorabji Tata and his father wanted him to get a mechanical engineering degree from Cambridge so that he could join Jamshedpur’s Tata Steel Mills in the post of a metallurgist.

7. Homi Jehangir Bhabha was however not interested in obtaining metallurgy. He rather wanted to pursue his education in mathematics. This is where his father told him that he would provide the finances for his [Homi’s] studies in mathematics provided he secured First Class in Tripos exams of Mechanical Sciences.

8. He did as demanded by his father and entered into the field of mathematics and moved on to complete Mathematics Tripos under Paul Dirac.

9. However, while completing his Mathematics Tripos, he was also working at Cavendish Laboratory in order to get his doctorate degree in Theoretical Physics.

10. At the time when Homi was working at Cavendish Lab, the lab was the focal point of various scientific breakthroughs. For instance, neutrons were discovered by James Chadwick at the same laboratory.

Homi Bhabha Facts: 11-15

11. Salomons Studentship in Engineering was awarded to Homi J. Bhabha for the academic year 1931-1932.

12. In 1932’s Mathematics Tripos exam, Bhabha secured a first class. This secured him the Rouse Ball traveling studentship in the field of mathematics.

13. It was during this time that nuclear physics was emerging as an interesting field of study but the proponents of Theoretical Physics opposed this field because, according to them, nuclear physics was more geared towards proving the phenomenons of nature via experiments compared to providing proper theories.

14. Bhabha was one of the many people who were highly interested in nuclear physics. Bhabha in particular had immense passion for experiments using particles, which were known for releasing enormous amounts of radiations.

15. In 1933, Bhabha gave his first scientific paper – ‘The Absorption of Cosmic Radiation’. This paper earned him his doctorate degree. The paper explained absorption features of cosmic rays and the production of electron showers in those rays.

Homi Bhabha Facts: 16-20

16. In 1934, he secured the Isaac Newton Studentship because of his scientific paper. He held the studentship till 1937.

17. In 1935, he delved into theoretical physics and under Ralph H. Fowler, he earned his doctoral degree.

18. Between 1934 and 1937, he worked at Copenhagen alongside Niels Bohr.

19. In 1935, Homi J. Bhabha published a second scientific paper in Series A of Proceedings of the Royal Society. In that paper, he gave the calculations for cross-section determination of electron-positron scattering. Because of his contributions, electron-positron scattering was later renamed as Bhabha Scattering.

20. In 1936, Bhabha came up with a third scientific paper but this time, it was co-authored by Walter Heitler. The paper was titled ‘The Passage of Fast Electrons and the Theory of Cosmic Showers’.

Homi Bhabha Facts: 21-25

21. In the 1936 paper, Bhabha and Heitler used their theory for describing how the upper atmosphere of Earth interacts with primary cosmic rays coming from outer space, resulting in the production of particles that are usually observed at the ground level.

22. Bhabha and Heitler carried out various calculations based on their theory and it turned out that their theory and calculations completely agreed with Auger and Rossi’s observations of cosmic ray showers that were made several years earlier.

23. Bhabha went on to conclude that if the properties of the particles produced by interaction of upper atmosphere and cosmic rays can be observed, they would straightaway give experimental verification of the Theory of Relativity provided by Albert Einstein.

24. Bhabha earned the Senior Studentship of 1851 Exhibition in 1937. This allowed him to continue his work until 1939’s breakout of WWII.

25. Homi Bhabha did significant work in identification of Muon (he gave theoretical prediction). His extraordinary works eventually led to his election in the Royal Society in 1941.

Homi Bhabha Facts: 26-30

26. In 1939 when World War II broke out, Bhabha was in India for a short period of time. He was actually on a yearly vacation. However, the outbreak of the war prevented him from leaving India.

27. While he was strangled in India because of the war, he was approached by C.V. Raman – a Nobel Laureate – to become a reader in physics at the famous Indian Institute of Science located in Bengaluru.

28. Bhabha accepted the offer from C.V. Raman. While he was in India and working as a reader in Physics, he came in contact with Congress Party and it is at that point, he managed to convince the leaders of the party that India needs a nuclear program.

29. Nehru was one of those several Congress Leaders who were convinced with what Bhabha had to say.

30. However, it wasn’t until 1944 that Bhabha could start a separate unit in Indian Institute of Science. The unit was none other than Cosmic Ray Research Institute.

Homi Bhabha Facts: 31-35

31. In 1944 itself, Bhabha wrote to Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and convinced the trustees that special facilities for working with cosmic rays, nuclear physics, high energy physics and other areas of physics were needed.

32. Convinced with Bhabha’s logic, Sir Dorabji Tata Trust gave the financial help to Bhabha that was required for establishing Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. The research facility was established in 1945 in Bombay.

33. The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research was also co-sponsored by the Government of Bombay. The institute was initially established at Royal Yacht Club’s old buildings.

34. Soon after that it was realized by Bhabha that a new facility was required with a completely new laboratory for conducting research on atomic energy because Tata Institute of Fundamental Research was not big enough and not well-equipped for the nature of the research.

35. Understanding this, the Bombay Government created a new facility in Trombay, which was named as Atomic Energy Establishment Trombay or AEET. This new facility started operating in 1954.

Homi Bhabha Facts: 36-40

36. With the help of Bhabha, the Department of Atomic Energy was also formed in 1954.

37. In International Atomic Energy Forums, Bhabha was the person who represented India.

38. In 1955, he served as the President of the United Nations Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy. The conference was held in Geneva, Switzerland.

39. The reason why Homi Bhabha is considered as Father of Indian Nuclear Programme is that he is the one who came up with the vision of Three Stage Nuclear Power Program.

40. Bhabha stated that India has over 500,000 tons of Thorium reserves while the Uranium reserves were less than 1/10th of Thorium reserves.

Homi Bhabha Facts: 41-45

41. According to Bhabha, natural Uranium can be used by first generation atomic power stations for starting the program. The Uranium would produce Plutonium.

42. The produced Plutonium can then be taken to the second generation atomic power stations. These second generation stations are designed for producing electricity and converting Thorium in depleted Uranium or U-233. Additionally, more Plutonium would be produced.

43. Finally, the breeder power stations (the third generation power stations) would produce more depleted Uranium compared to the amount of Uranium being burned during power production.

44. In 1966, on January 24, Bhabha was flying in Air India Flight 101. The flight crashed near Mont Blanc. He was on his way to attend the Vienna Conference. He died in the crash. Official statement says that there was a misunderstanding between the aircraft pilot and Geneva Airport, which led to the crash.

45. Later, Gregory Douglas (a reporter) interviewed Robert Crowley – a former operative of the CIA and published everything in a book titled ‘Conversations with the Crow’. In that interview, Crowley stated that CIA eliminated Bhabha in order to cripple the nuclear program of India. He also said that CIA was also responsible for elimination of Lal Bahadur Shastri in the same year during Tashkent summit.


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