Tuesday, 16 October 2018

A Stalwart of Indian Science: Satyendranath Bose

Satyendra Nath Bose(1st January 1894)was an Indian physicist from Bengal specializing in theoretical physics. He is best known for his work on quantum mechanics in the early 1920s, providing the foundation for Bose-Einstein statistics and the theory of the Bose-Einstein condensate.Bose was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata), the eldest of seven children. He was the only son, with six sisters after him. His ancestral home was in village Bara Jagulia, in the district of Nadia in the state of West Bengal.
Bose attended Hindu School in Calcutta, and later attended Presidency College also in Calcutta, earning the highest marks at each institution, while the fellow student and future astrophysicist Meghnad Saha came second. He came in contact with teachers such as Jagadish Chandra Bose, Prafulla Chandra Ray and Naman Sharma who provided inspiration to aim high in life. From 1916 to 1921, he was a lecturer in the Physics Department of the University of Kolkata. Along with Saha, Bose prepared the first book in English based on German and French translations of original papers on Einstein’s special and general relativity in 1919. In 1921, he joined as Reader of the Department of Physics of the recently founded University of Dhaka(in present-day Bangladesh). Bose set up whole new departments, including laboratories, to teach advanced courses for MSc and BSc honors and taught thermodynamics as well as James Clark Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetism.
 In 1924, while working as a Reader at the Physics Department of the University of Dhaka, Bose wrote a paper deriving Planck’s quantum radiation law without any reference to classical physics by using a novel way of counting states with identical particles. This paper was seminal in creating the very important field of quantum statistics.
Though not accepted at once for publication, he sent the article directly to Albert Einstein in Germany with the following letter –
Respected Sir, I have ventured to send you the accompanying article for your perusal and opinion. I am anxious to know what you think of it. You will see that I have tried to deduce the coefficient 8π ν2/c3 in Planck’s Law independent of classical electrodynamics, only assuming that the ultimate elementary region in the phase-space has the content h3. I do not know sufficient German to translate the paper. If you think the paper worth publication I shall be grateful if you arrange for its publication in Zeitschrift für Physik. Though a complete stranger to you, I do not feel any hesitation in making such a request. Because we are all your pupils though profiting only by your teachings through your writings. I do not know whether you still remember that somebody from Calcutta asked your permission to translate your papers on Relativity in English. You acceded to the request. The book has since been published. I was the one who translated your paper on Generalised Relativity.
Einstein instantly saw that Bose’s work was very valuable, although even he did not see its full far-reaching significance at first – this took him a few days.
Einstein translated Bose’s work into German and arranged for it to be published in the journal Zeitschrift für Physik.
Einstein replied to Bose on July 24, saying that Bose’s work was: “… an important step forward and I liked it very much.”
In December 1946, Paul Dirac coined two new words to cover the two groups of particles that exist in the subatomic world: the boson, named in honor of S. N. Bose; and the fermion, named in honor of Enrico Fermi. Any particle that obeys Bose’s statistics is a boson, while any particle that obeys Fermi-Dirac statistics is a fermion.
In 1937, Rabindranath Tagore dedicated his only book on science, Visva–Parichay, to Satyendra Nath Bose. Bose was honored with Padma Vibhushan by the Indian Government in 1954. In 1959, he was appointed as the National Professor, the highest honor in the country for a scholar, a position he held for 15 years.
This legend died on 4th February 1974 after constructing the base of Indian Science.

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