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50 Interesting Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose Facts

by Sankalan Baidya
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Jagadish chandra bose

In this article titled 50 Interesting Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose facts, we intend to take a quick look into the life of India’s one of the most prolific and celebrated scientists of all time. Some of the pioneering discoveries he made, transformed the way we looked into this world before he existed. Not only Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose was a scientist, he was also into literature and science fiction that gave a massive boost to Bengali language. It can be said, without a hint of doubt, that his diversity of knowledge made Bengal the intellectual center of India in the 19th century.

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Quick Facts:

Name: Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose.

Profession: Scientist.

Nationality: Indian.

Born: November 30, 1858.

Birth Place: Mymensingh in British India’s Bengal Presidency (Currently Bangladesh).

Death: November 23, 1937.

Age during death: 78 years.

Place of death: Giridih, in British India’s Bengal Presidency (Currently in Jharkhand, India).

Contributed to: Biology, Botany, Biophysics, Physics and Archeology.

Other contributions: Bengali science fiction and Bengali literature.

Institutions:

  • University of Calcutta (or Calcutta University) abbreviated as C.U.
  • University of Cambridge.
  • University of London.

Best known for: Crescograph, Millimeter Waves, Radio and Plant Biology.

Awards and accolades:

  • 1903 – Companion of the order of the Indian Empire (abbreviated as CIE).
  • 1911 – Companion of the order of the Star of India (abbreviated as CSI).
  • 1917 – Knight Bachelor.
  • 1920 – Fellow of the Royal Society.

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Interesting Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose Facts: 1-5

1. Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose made some amazing contributions in the field of physics however, he is still best known for being a plant physiologist (We will be coming to this point later).

2. He also invented wireless telegraphy and made a demonstration of the same in 1895. The Governor of Bengal was present during his demonstration. However, it is sad that the credit for this invention is often given to Guglielmo Marconi – an Italian scientist, who made a demonstration in 1897 but filed a patent in 1896.

3. During the public demonstration at Calcutta’s Town Hall, he managed to send electromagnetic waves over a distance of 75 feet. The waves passed right through a wall and managed to ring a bell wirelessly.

4. During the same demonstration, Bose also managed to demonstrated explosion of gun powder using electromagnetic wave.

5. Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose is today called as Father of Wireless Communication. He invented what is known as Mercury Coherer. It is a device that is capable of receiving radio waves.

Interesting Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose Facts: 6-10

6. What the Italian scientist Guglielmo Marconi did was that he made use of Bose’s Mercury Coherer to come up with a two-way radio that are capable of communicating wirelessly. The only problem was that Bose didn’t file for a patent and Marconi took the opportunity to patent it and become celebrated for something that he never invented.

7. Jagadish Chandra Bose hailed from an aristocrat family and was the son of Bhagawan Chandra Bose. Bhagawan Chandra Bose was assistant commissioner / district magistrate in several places like Bardhaman (aka Burdwan), Faridpur etc. Bose’s father was also the leader of Brahmo Samaj.

8. Back in those days, aristocrat families would normally choose English schools for the education of their children but Bhagawan Chandra Bose preferred a vernacular school for Jagadish Chandra Bose.

9. The reason for this unusual selection without showing off status was that Bhagawan Chandra Bose believed that a person should first know his or her mother tongue before learning English and one should also know his or her people.

10. His upbringing, despite hailing from an orthodox Bengali family, made him realize that there is no difference between a person from a low caste and a person from a higher caste. He also did not distinguish people based on religions like Hinduism and Islam.

Interesting Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose Facts: 11-15

11. In 1869 Jagadish Chandra Bose joined Hare School and from there he moved to St. Xavier’s School.

12. He cleared Calcutta University’s Entrance Examination in year 1875 and then joined St. Xavier’s College. This is where he developed interest in natural science under the influence of Jesuit Father Eugene Lafont.

13. Four years later in 1875, Bose received B.Sc. Degree from University of Calcutta. After this, Bose planned on moving to London with an aim for competing in Indian Civil Service (ICS).

14. Though Bose ended up in London, it was not for ICS but for studying Medicine because his father clearly instructed that he should not pursue a career where he will rule others but instead opt for a career where he rules himself. Simply put, his father wanted him to become a scholar.

15. Though Jagadish Chandra Bose went to London for studying medicine, he had to quit because he was unable to withstand the terrible smell of the dissection rooms and ended up becoming ill.

Interesting Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose Facts: 16-20

16. With some source, Bose however managed to get admission into Christ’s College in Cambridge and started studying Natural Science.

17. Later in 1884, Bose went on to receive Natural Science Tripos from University of Cambridge as well as an MA Degree of Cambridge and in 1884 he also grabbed a B.Sc. Degree from University of London.

18. Bose however returned to India the very next year (1885). Thanks to a letter from Lord Ripon’s economist, Fawcett, Director of Public Instruction in India – Sir Alfred Croft appointed Jagadish Chandra Bose as physics professor at Presidency College, Calcutta.

19. This appointment met with some fierce racial discrimination from C. H. Tawney – the then Principal of Presidency College. Unfortunately, Tawney had no other option but to accept Bose as Physics professor.

20. The racial discrimination reflected in Bose’s salary. In general, because of this racial discrimination, Indian professors were paid just Rupees 200 a month as salary while Rupees 300 month was the payout for British counterparts. Bose however was offered only Rupees 100 a month for the position of an officiating professor.

Interesting Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose Facts: 21-25

21. In order to protest this racial discrimination, Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose went on teaching for 3 years straight without accepting salary check. Over time this action by Bose made both Tawney and Alfred Croft resent their actions and they appointed Bose as a permanent professor at Presidency College.

22. They also paid the entire accrued salary of Bose for previous 3 years of service as an officiating professor in a lump sum.

23. However, during the first three years of service, Bose was also subjected to other racial discrimination. He was given a terrible routine that forced him to work for long hours. He was also denied proper access to college laboratory.

24. It is true that the laboratory of Presidency College wasn’t very well-equipped and very large but it was still decent. Since Bose could not access the college lab, he used his 24 square foot room as his lab.

25. Apart from that, since no proper instruments were handed over to Bose and since, no other learned professor was allowed to help in his experiments, Bose decided to get help from a tinsmith.

Interesting Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose Facts: 26-30

26. Not only the tinsmith had zero knowledge about physics, he was also not trained in making devices and instruments for such experiments. Yet, Bose and the tinsmith managed to create wonders. Unfortunately however, those experiments were conducted by Bose deep in the night because of his terrible world schedule.

27. While working as a professor, Bose’s attention was caught by a book that was written by Oliver Lodge – a British physicist. The book dealt with the quasi optical nature of radio waves, also known as Hertzian Waves.

28. Just in case you are not aware, a mathematical model was created by James Clerk Maxwell – a theoretical physicist from Scotland. This model predicted that electromagnetic radiations of various wavelengths exist. Later, Heinrich Hertz – a German physicist conducted experiments confirming Maxwell’s predictions and hence, the electromagnetic radiations became known as Hertzian Waves.

29. Lodge’s book inspired Bose to take up microwave research and came up with a breakthrough by developing millimeter level waves by reducing the wavelength of Hertzian long waves. Bose reduced them to the size of 5mm.

30. Bose decided to go for microwaves because he realized that Hertizan Waves of long wavelengths were not suitable for studying the light-like properties of electromagnetic waves.

Interesting Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose Facts: 31-35

31. He demonstrated his breakthrough in 1895 (see points 3 and 4 above). He also came up with a Bengali essay on the microwaves and named it as Adrisya Alok (which literally translates into Invisible Light). In the paper he wrote that Adrisya Alok is capable of passing through buildings and brick walls, allowing message transmission wirelessly. This is precisely what he demonstrated in his experiment.

32. Bose wrote several scientific papers and his work became so popular that Electrician – a London journal published a paper by Bose in 1895. The paper was titled ‘On a new electro-polariscope’. It was actually a coherer device. The name coherer was coined by Lodge. Electrician wrote: “Should Professor Bose succeed in perfecting and patenting his ‘Coherer’, we may in time see the whole system of coast lighting throughout the navigable world revolutionised by a Bengali scientist working single handed in our Presidency College Laboratory.”

33. Bose did have plans on perfecting his new coherer device but was not inclined towards giving it a commercial makeup. Thus, he openly suggested that other scientists can use his work. This is where Marconi stepped in.

34. Guglielmo Marconi was actually attempting to create wireless telegraphy using radio waves and his intentions were to commercialize the device. He used Bose’s work to develop a two-way radio communication device. Since Marconi was quick enough to patent the work, he was given credit for the work that was actually done by Bose.

35. Bose’s to study the nature of radio wave communication using radio microwave optics. He had no interest in developing radio communication system and sell that in market. Since he did not nurture a capitalistic mindset, he continued with his work and ended up become the first person in world to make use of a semiconductor junction, which is capable of detecting microwaves.

Interesting Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose Facts: 36-40

36. Later on Jagadish Chandra Bose went on to invent many microwave components that are widely used even today. His work was so remarkably advanced that 1977 Nobel Laureate, Sir Nevill Mott (he made amazing contributions to solid-state electronics) said that J.C. Bose was at least 60 years ahead of his time because he predicted that N-type and P-type semiconductors can exist and he was right.

37. Bose Institute in Kolkata has carefully preserved many of the original equipment that Jagadish Chandra Bose used for his experiments. The advanced nature of his work can also be gauged by the fact that NRAO 12 Metre Telescope located in Arizona, USA uses a 1.3mm multi-beam receptor that has developed based on the work Bose did back in 1895.

38. Physics wasn’t the only field where Jagadish Chandra Bose excelled. He also became an important figure in biophysics, botany and biology. He is not that popular because of his achievements in physics. His popularity came in biophysics.

39. Jagadish Chandra Bose was the first scientist in the world to have successfully measured the responses that plants have when they are exposed to several stimuli such as electricity, touch, sound and light.

40. While conducting several experiments, Bose became convinced that when it comes to nervous system, animals and plants do not exhibit any clear boundaries. In order to prove this, Bose came up with a device known as Crescograph.

Interesting Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose Facts: 41-45

41. The crescograph that Bose invented was capable of magnifying the movements that plants make by 10 million times! In order to prove his theory, Bose made a demonstration in 1901 on 10th of May at Royal Society in London.

42. In this demonstration, he conducted an experiment. He took a vessel full of bromide solution and connected the crescograph to the vessel. He then carefully dipped a plant all the way up to its stem into that solution.

43. It is a known fact that bromide solution is deadly for animals and humans alike. Once the plant was dipped in the solution, the movements of the plant showed up on a screen hooked to the device.

44. Bose lighted up a spot on the plants stem and the spot showed movements on the screen. The movement started with a pendulum-like to and fro motion and within a few minutes, the movement became very violent only to finally come to an abrupt halt.

45. There was no further movement. The plant used in demonstration was dead and mimicked the death of poisoned rat trying to survive.

Interesting Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose Facts: 46-50

46. Bose went on to conduct many more experiments on plants. He used chemicals, temperature, light and microwave as different stimuli and studied their impact on plants. These experiments led Bose to hypothesize that plants are very much capable of understanding pain as they can also understand affection.

47. He even conducted experiments that allowed him to study the effects of fatigue response on organic plant tissues and compared them with fatigue response in metal wires. He eventually found the organic cells in plants have the same fatigue cycle as in case of metals.

48. It was not just science that Jagadish Chandra Bose was interested in. He was interested in fiction writing too! He wrote a story called Niruddesher Kahini (which literally translates into, The Story of the Missing One).

49. It was a short science fiction story that he penned down back in 1896 and it was the first Bengali Science Fiction. Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay translated it in English.

50. On Moon (yes, our satellite Moon), a crater has been named after Jagadish Chandra Bose in his honor. The crater is known as Bose Crater. It is 91 kilometers wide and is located on far side of the Moon.

Bose was not just a brilliant scientist. He was also a great and one of the most influential teachers of all time. His two most famous students are Satyendra Nath Bose and Meghnad Saha.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

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