Jagadish Chandra Bose: Five facts you need to know about one of the world's greatest scientists

Legendary Indian scientist is subject of a Google Doodle on his 158th birthday

Gabriel Samuels
Tuesday 29 November 2016 15:15 GMT
Who is Jagadish Chandra Bose? 5 things you need to know about one of the world's greatest scientists

Indian scientist Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose was born 158 years ago, and became a world leader in telecommunications with innumerable achievements to his name.

The polymath is the subject of a Google Doodle across the US, Australia, India and France to remember his contributions and celebrate his works.

The doodle shows the legendary scientist, who was known across the world, with the crescograph - an instrument he invented to measure growth in plants, and which he used to determine environmental effects on vegetation.

Here are five things you should know about Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose.

1. Learning Bengali sparked his interest in nature

Bose’s father sent him to a vernacular school in Munshiganj at a young age, because he believed his son should know his own mother tongue before learning English.

“I listened spellbound to stories of birds, animals and aquatic creatures. Perhaps these stories created in my mind a keen interest in investigating the workings of Nature,” Bose later told a conference at Bikrampur in 1915.

His father encouraged Bose to become a scholar, despite the poverty suffered by his family, and he left what is now Bangladesh at 18 to study natural science at Christ’s College, Cambridge.

2. He was denied access to labs because of his race

After joining the University of Calcutta as a Professor of Physics, Bose was often denied access to laboratories due to his race, as the British Empire continued to assert its control over Indian educational institutions.

The professor would resort to conducting elaborate experiments inside his lodgings: a 24 square foot room in downtown Calcutta, in which he struggled to house all his scientific equipment.

He also reportedly faced racial discrimination and abuse during his time as a professor, but refused to allow this - and a chronic lack of funding for equipment - affect his pioneering research.

3. He was one of the ‘fathers of radio science’

There is a common misconception that the famous biophysicist is in some way connected with Bose, the modern technology company which makes high-quality headphones and sound equipment.

This is not the case. Bose was, however, a significant figure in the creation of modern radio and sonic technology - while also having a keen interest in botany.

During years of research, Bose made outstanding progress in bringing remote wireless signalling to life and invented an early version of wireless telecommunication.

Bose would have been able to reap significant financial and commercial benefit from these discoveries had he opted to cash in - but he rejected wealth and made his inventions public, to allow others to develop his research.

In 1997, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers named Bose as a “father of radio science”

4. He understood that plants ‘feel pain’

Perhaps Bose’s greatest achievement was his invention of the crescograph, which allowed scientists to discover how the seasons and external stimuli affected plant life.

The scientist worked tirelessly to chart how chemical inhibitors, temperature and light change the way plants grow, and advise humans on how to better care for vegetation.

It paved the way for scientists to better understand how to cultivate crops in a more effective way, and encouraged people to take better care of plant life. In one particular report, Bose wrote that he believed plants “feel pain and understand affection” just as much as humans do.

5. There is a crater on the moon named after him

A small impact crater on the far side of the Moon is named after Bose.

The Bose Crater is located close to Crater Bhabha and Crater Adler and has a reported diameter of 91 kilometres.

The outer rim of the Bose Crater has become worn and the edges rounded by impacts, although the shape of the site has been well-preserved.

The crater was named after Bose to recognise his achievements in the field of wireless telecommunications in particular, which are said to have paved the way for satellite communication.

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