National Science Day: Seven Indian scientists who changed the world

To honour those brilliant minds who have helped and are helping the nation progress scientifically, February 28 is celebrated as National Science Day in India.

National Science Day: Seven Indian scientists who changed the world
(Representational image)

New Delhi: Science is an important part of our everyday life, even more so than we notice. From our fancy gadgets to the technologies we can’t live without, from our humble light bulb to the space explorations, science has certainly changed the way we look at the world.

To honour those brilliant minds who have helped and are helping the nation progress scientifically, February 28 is celebrated as National Science Day in India.

February 28 marks the discovery of the Raman effect by Indian physicist Chandrashekhara Venkata Raman on the same day in 1928.

Let's have a look at seven Indian scientists who achieved global recognition:

CV Raman

Born in Tiruchirapalli on November 7, 1888, Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman became the first Asian and first non-White to receive a Nobel Prize in Science for his pioneering work on scattering of light in 1930.

Raman also worked on the acoustics of musical instruments. He was the first to investigate the harmonic nature of the sound of the Indian drums such as the tabla and the mridangam.

Known as the Raman effect, he discovered that, when light traverses a transparent material, some of the deflected light changes in wavelength. The phenomenon is also called the Raman scattering.

He died of natural causes on November 21, 1970.

Homi J Bhabha

Homi Jehangir Bhabha was born on October 30, 1909, in Bombay (now Mumbai) and played an important role in Quantum Theory.

He was the first Chairperson of the Atomic Energy Commission of India. He began his scientific career in nuclear physics from Great Britain, but then 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, however, not many people are aware that he was absolutely against India manufacturing atomic bombs, even if the country had enough resources to do so. Instead, he was the one who suggested that the production of an atomic reactor should be used to lessen India’s misery and poverty.

He died when Air India Flight 101 crashed near Mont Blanc on January 24, 1966.

Visvesvaraya

Notable Indian engineer, scholar and statesman Sir Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya was born on September 15, 1860.

He was the Diwan of Mysore during 1912 to 1918 and a recipient of the Indian Republic’s highest honour, the Bharat Ratna.

He has inventions like ‘automatic sluice gates’ and ‘block irrigation system’ which are still considered to be marvels in engineering to his credit.

His birth anniversary each year is celebrated as Engineer’s Day in India.

Since river beds were costly, he came up with an efficient way of filtering water through ‘Collector Wells’ in 1895 which was rarely seen anywhere in the world.

S Chandrashekhar

Born on October 19, 1910, in Lahore, British India, he was awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physics for his mathematical theory of black holes. The Chandrasekhar limit is named after him. He was the nephew of CV Raman. In 1953, Chandrashekhar became a United States citizen.

His most celebrated work concerns the radiation of energy from stars, particularly white dwarf stars, which are the dying fragments of stars. He died on August 21, 1995, at the age of 82 in Chicago.

Srinivasa Ramanujan

A noted name in the field of Mathematics, Ramanujan was born on December 22, 1887, in Tamil Nadu.

A mathematician and autodictat, he had no formal training in pure mathematics but made extraordinary contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions.

By the young age of 11, he had exhausted the mathematical knowledge of two college students who were lodgers at his home. He was later lent a book on advanced trigonometry written by SL Loney. He completely mastered this book by the age of 13 and discovered sophisticated theorems on his own.

He faced a lot of health issues while living in England due to the scarcity of vegetarian food. He returned to India and died at a young age of 32.

Ramanujan’s home state of Tamil Nadu celebrates Ramanujan’s birth anniversary as ‘State IT Day’, memorializing both the man and his achievements.

Jagadish Chandra Bose

Acharya JC Bose was a man of many talents. Born on 30 November 1858 in Bikrampur, West Bengal, he was a polymath, physicist, biologist, botanist, and archaeologist.

He pioneered the study of radio and microwave optics, made important contributions to the study of plants and laid the foundation of experimental science in the Indian sub-continent.

Being the first person to use semiconductor junctions to detect radio signals, JC Bose demonstrated wireless communication for the first time.

Another of his well-known inventions is the crescograph, through which he measured plant response to various stimuli and hypothesized that plants can feel pain, understand affection etc.

He is considered the father of Bengali science fiction.

APJ Abdul Kalam

Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, born on October 15, 1931, was an Indian scientist who worked as an Aerospace engineer with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Kalam started his career by designing a small helicopter for the Indian Army. Kalam was also part of the INCOSPAR committee working under Vikram Sarabhai, the renowned space scientist.

In 1969, Kalam was transferred to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) where he was the project director of India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) which successfully deployed the Rohini satellite in near earth’s orbit in July 1980.

He served as the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007. Kalam advocated plans to develop India into a developed nation by 2020 in his book India 2020.

He has received several prestigious awards, including the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour. Known for his love for children, Kalam had set a goal of meeting 100,000 students in the 2 years after his resignation from the role of scientific adviser in 1999.

Kalam passed away at the age of 83 on July 25, 2015, due to cardiac arrest.

(Image credits: Wikipedia)

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