Homi Jahangir Bhabha is popularly known as the Father of Indian nuclear programme. He was born on 30th October 1909, Bombay and died on 24th January 1966, France. He was an Indian nuclear physicist who is known for his intellect and contribution towards developing nuclear programme in India. He is also the founder of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research which works in the field of theoretical physics, cosmic rays physics and mathematics.
In 1954, he established Trombay Atomic Energy Establishment for developing the atomic energy. In 1966, the centre was renamed as Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in his honour after his demise. Both the institutions gave rise to research sector. He was awarded Padma Bhushan award in 1954 for his work in engineering and science department.
LOVE FOR PHYSICS AND HIS WORK
Despite his father and uncle wanting him to become an engineer for joining Tata Iron and Steel Company, he went to Cambridge for studying theoretical physics. He felt drawn towards the subject and felt the urge to use his knowledge for innovation. In 1933, he wrote a paper titled ‘The Absorption of Cosmic Radiation’ which dealt with explaining the phenomenon behind the production of electron shower in cosmic rays. He bagged the Isaac Newton Studentship for this paper which he retained for three whole years.
Under the fellowship of Ralph H. Fowler, he completed his doctoral studies in subject theoretical physics. During this time, he managed to work in Copenhagen with Nobel Prize winner, Niels Bohr.
“Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series A”, was his paper written in 1935. In the paper, he explained calculations for determining the scattering of electron and positron. Afterwards, the electron-positron scattering was renamed as Bhabha scattering in lieu of his contributions.
“The Passage of Fast Electrons and the Theory of Cosmic Showers” was co-authored by Homi J. Bhabha in 1936 along with Walter Heitler. Together, they explained the interaction of primary cosmic rays in outer space with the upper atmosphere for production of ground-level particles. Based on the varied initiation energies of the electrons, they made a numerical estimation of the number of electrons at different altitudes. Homi J. Bhabha used the results and concluded that Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity can be experimentally verified by the observations.
Until 1939, the onset of World War II, Bhabha continued working in Cambridge with the help of ‘Senior Studentship of the 1851 exhibition’ in 1937. Since he could not return back to Cambridge owing to the war, he joined the Indian Institute of Science as a reader, in Bangalore.
While he was working at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, he convinced Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru for establishing a nuclear program in India. Keeping a step forward in this direction, he founded Cosmic Ray Research Unit at the institute. In 1944, he began researching (individually) on the nuclear weapons.
In 1948, he proposed the idea of Atomic Energy Commission which could focus on developing the atomic energy. His idea was accepted and he became the first director of Atomic Energy Commission. He didn’t want to harness atomic energy for destruction. Instead, he made use of atomic energy for peace. He didn’t want to manufacture atomic bombs.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT HOMI JAHANGIR BHABHA
- Homi Bhabha had started a nuclear programme in Britain before coming to India for holidays. During his vacations, the World War II began which forced him to stay back in India.
- After serving as a professor of cosmic ray research, he progressed to become the chairman of Atomic Energy Research Committee along with Atomic Energy Commission.
- In 1934, he bagged the Isaac Newton Studentship owing to his topic for a doctorate in nuclear physics. He selected “The Absorption of Cosmic Radiation” as his topic which described the production of electron shower and discussion about the absorption features of cosmic radiation.
- The scattering of electron and positron was renamed as Bhabha scattering in his honour.
- In 1955, he served as the President of the United Nations Conference in Switzerland. The conference was held for using atomic energy for peace.
- He is responsible for giving direction to Indian nuclear programme. In a unique, never seen before approach, he devised a plan in extracting power from Indian thorium reserves. Earlier, India extracted its power from uranium reserves.
- His talent wasn’t limited to being a scientist. He liked opera, botany, painting and classical music.
- In 1963, he served as President of National Institute of Sciences, India.
- His death has to be the most controversially debated topic all over. He was on board to Vienna for attending International Atomic Energy Agency’s Scientific Advisory Committee meeting where the plane mysteriously crashed. A school of thinking believes that CIA is behind the crash for weakening the spine of India’s nuclear programme. His death fell exactly after 14 days of the demise of Lal Bahadur Shashtri. The mysterious deaths of nuclear scientists in India have continued.
- Despite his various contributions in developing India’s nuclear programme, he didn’t receive the Bharat Ratna award.