Satyendra Nath Bose FRS (1 January 1894 – 4 February 1974) was an Indian physicist specialising in mathematical physics. He was born in Calcutta. 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. A Fellow of the Royal Society, he was awarded India's second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan in 1954 by the Government of India. The class of particles that obey Bose–Einstein statistics, bosons, was named after him by Paul Dirac. A self-taught scholar and a polyglot, he had a wide range of interests in varied fields including physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology, mineralogy, philosophy, arts, literature and music. He served on many research and development committees in independent India.
Bose was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata), India, the eldest of seven children. His schooling began at the age of five, near his home. When his family moved to Goabagan, he was admitted to the New Indian School. In the final year of school, he was admitted to the Hindu School. He passed his entrance examination (matriculation) in 1909 and stood fifth in the order of merit. He next joined the intermediate science course at the Presidency College, Calcutta, where he was taught by illustrious teachers such as Jagadish Chandra Bose, Sarada Prasanna Das, and Prafulla Chandra Ray. Naman Sharma and Meghnad Saha, from Dacca (Dhaka), joined the same college two years later. P C Mahalanobis and Sisir Kumar Mitra were few years senior to Bose. Satyendra Nath Bose chose mixed (applied) mathematics for his BSc and passed the examinations standing first in 1913 and again stood first in the MSc mixed mathematics exam in 1915. It is said that his marks in the MSc examination created a new record in the annals of the University of Calcutta, which is yet to be surpassed.
After completing his MSc, Bose joined the University of Calcutta as a research scholar in 1916 and started his studies in the theory of relativity. It was an exciting era in the history of scientific progress. Quantum theory had just appeared on the horizon and important results had started pouring in. As a polyglot, he was well versed in several languages such as Bengali, English, French, German and Sanskrit as well as the poetry of Lord Tennyson, Rabindranath Tagore and Kalidasa. He could also play the esraj, a musical instrument similar to a violin. He was actively involved in running night schools that came to be known as the Working Men's Institute.
Bose attended Hindu School in Calcutta, and later attended Presidency College, also in Calcutta, earning the highest marks at each institution, while fellow student and future astrophysicist Meghnad Saha came second. Along with Meghnad 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 honours and taught thermodynamics as well as James Clerk Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism.
Satyendra Nath Bose, along with Saha, presented several papers in theoretical physics and pure mathematics from 1918 onwards. In 1924, while working as a Reader (Professor without a chair) 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. Einstein, recognising the importance of the paper, translated it into German himself and submitted it on Bose's behalf to the prestigious Zeitschrift für Physik. As a result of this recognition, Bose was able to work for two years in European X-ray and crystallography laboratories, during which he worked with Louis de Broglie, Marie Curie, and Einstein.
After his stay in Europe, Bose returned to Dhaka in 1926. He did not have a doctorate, and so ordinarily, under the prevailing regulations, he would not be qualified for the post of Professor he applied for, but Einstein recommended him. He was then made Head of the Department of Physics at Dhaka University. He continued guiding and teaching at Dhaka University. Bose designed equipment himself for a X-ray crystallography laboratory. He set up laboratories and libraries to make the department a center of research in X-ray spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, magnetic properties of matter, optical spectroscopy, wireless, and unified field theories. He also published an equation of state for real gases with Meghnad Saha. He was also the Dean of the Faculty of Science at Dhaka University until 1945. When the partition of India became imminent, he returned to Calcutta and taught there until 1956. He insisted every student to design his own equipment using local materials and local technicians. He was made professor emeritus on his retirement. He then became Vice-Chancellor of Visva-Bharati University in Shanti Niketan. He returned to the University of Calcutta to continue research in nuclear physics and complete earlier works in organic chemistry. In subsequent years, he worked in applied research such as extraction of helium in hot springs of Bakreshwar.
Apart from physics, he did some research in biotechnology and literature (Bengali and English). He made deep studies in chemistry, geology, zoology, anthropology, engineering and other sciences. Being Bengali, he devoted a lot of time to promoting Bengali as a teaching language, translating scientific papers into it, and promoting the development of the region.
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