125th Birthday: The Life And Work Of The Indian Physicist S.N.Bose

Satyendra Nath Bose, widely remembered as the father of the God Particle, having the integral spin particle, ‘Boson’, named after him was an Indian theoretical physicist who did pioneering work in the field of quantum mechanics. Today, on his 125th birth anniversary, let’s dig deeper into his life, his achievements and his extraordinary contributions to science.

Satyendra Nath Bose

Satyendra Nath Bose was born on January 1, 1894, in Calcutta,India.He was the eldest and only son of his parents.Bose was a bright child and his father often used to write arithmetic problems on floor in the morning before going to work, which Bose was supposed to solve before he returned back home. Bose later became an alumnus of the Presidency College, where he studied an intermediate science course. He was awarded with Bachelor of Science in mixed mathematics in 1913 from Presidency College and got a Master of Science in 1915 from Calcutta University.It is said that his marks in the MSc examination created a new record in the annuals of the University of Calcutta, which is yet to be surpassed.

At the end of 1916, Bose started giving applied mathematics lectures, and in 1917 he started giving mathematical physics lectures. In 1917, the university appointed C. V. Raman to the Palit Chair of Physics and in 1921, Bose was appointed to the position of Reader in Physics at the University of Dhaka.Bose was a very dedicated teacher and often felt restless when he could not fully understand any topic which he taught his students. The same thing happened to him when he had to teach Planck’s quantum radiation to his students, he could not completely understand it and in order to do so, he wrote a paper in 1924, in which he derived Plank’s quantum radiation law without referencing classical physics. He did so by counting states with identical properties, and hence, unknowingly he created his own statistics. He sent this paper to Albert Einstein in Germany who immediately recognized its importance, translated it into German and submitted it to the Zeitschrift für Physik, the prestigious scientific journal, on Bose’s behalf.

Albert Einstein & S.N Bose

Bose later went to Europe for two years to work at X-Ray and crystallography laboratories where he worked alongside the brilliant minds of that era including Albert Einstein and Marie Curie. Einstein adopted the idea of Bose and applied it to the atoms which gave birth to a new form of matter, ie. Bose-Einstein Condensate, a dense collection of particles with integer spin known as Bosons (named after Bose).

2-D velocity distribution of B.E Condensates

Satyendra Nath Bose’s work on particle statistics clarified the behaviour of photons and opened a door to new ideas on statistics of Microsystems. Apart from this, Bose also did some research in biotechnology and literature (Bengali and English). Bose made deep studies in field of chemistry, geology, zoology, anthropology, engineering and other sciences. He along with the astrophysicist Meghnad Saha, published English translations of Einstein’s papers on general and special relativity.

Although a number of Nobel Prizes have been awarded for research related to the concepts of the Bosons and the Bose-Einstein Condensate but ironically, Bose was never awarded one! His work was nominated for the Nobel Prize, but Nobel Prize committee did not consider his work worthy of a Nobel! However, he received several other awards and honours for his contribution to the study of the universe. The India Government awarded Bose with Padma Vibhushan in 1954, the second highest civilian award in the country. In 1959, he was appointed as the National Professor- the highest honour for a scholar. Bose was a fellow of the Royal Society, adviser to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and the President of the Indian Physical Society ,the National Institute of Science, the Indian Statistical Institute and the general president of the Indian Science Conference.

According to physicist Jayant Narlikar, Bose’s finding was one of the top achievements of 20th century Indian science. Bose was described as the “Father of the ‘God Particle,’ in a July 2012 New York Times article.
Along with science, Bose’s interest also wandered into other fields, including philosophy, literature and the Indian independence movement. Satyendra Nath Bose died on 4th February 1974. Today, most of the fields are using his ideas for making new discoveries. His discoveries definitely made a mark especially in the micro world, and that’s the reason why half of the particles in this universe still obey him! Isn’t it?
Happy Birthday Sir!

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