Homi J. Bhabha

Homi J. Bhabha

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Not to be confused with Homi K. Bhabha
Homi K. Bhabha
Homi K. Bhabha is the Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of English and American Literature and Language, and the Director of the Humanities Center at Harvard University. He is one of the most important figures in contemporary post-colonial studies, and has coined a number of the field's neologisms and...



Homi Jehangir Bhabha, FRS (30 October 1909 – 24 January 1966) was an Indian nuclear physicist
Nuclear physics
Nuclear physics is the field of physics that studies the building blocks and interactions of atomic nuclei. The most commonly known applications of nuclear physics are nuclear power generation and nuclear weapons technology, but the research has provided application in many fields, including those...

 and the chief architect of the Indian atomic energy program. He was also responsible for the establishment of two well-known research institutions, namely the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research is a research institution in India dedicated to basic research in mathematics and the sciences. It is a Deemed University and works under the umbrella of the Department of Atomic Energy of the Government of India. It is located at Navy Nagar, Colaba, Mumbai...

 (TIFR), and the Atomic Energy Establishment at Trombay (which after Bhabha's death was renamed as the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre
The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre is India's primary nuclear research facility based in Mumbai. It has a number of nuclear reactors, all of which are used for India's nuclear power and research programme.- History :...

 (BARC)). As a scientist, he is remembered for deriving a correct expression for the probability of scattering positrons by electrons, a process now known as Bhabha scattering
Bhabha scattering
In quantum electrodynamics, Bhabha scattering is the electron-positron scattering process:There are two leading-order Feynman diagrams contributing to this interaction: an annihilation process and a scattering process. The Bhabha scattering rate is used as a luminosity monitor in electron-positron...

. For his significant contributions to the development of atomic energy in India, he is known as the father of India's nuclear program.
World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 broke out in September 1939 while Bhabha was vacationing in India. He chose to remain in India until the war ended. In the meantime, he accepted a position at the Indian Institute of Science
Indian Institute of Science
Indian Institute of Science is a research institution of higher learning located in Bangalore, India. It was established in 1909.-History:After a chance meeting between Jamsetji N...

 in Bangalore
Bangalore
Bengaluru , formerly called Bengaluru is the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. Bangalore is nicknamed the Garden City and was once called a pensioner's paradise. Located on the Deccan Plateau in the south-eastern part of Karnataka, Bangalore is India's third most populous city and...

, headed by Nobel laureate C. V. Raman. He established the Cosmic Ray Research Unit at the institute, and began to work on the theory of the movement of point particles. In 1945, he established the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research is a research institution in India dedicated to basic research in mathematics and the sciences. It is a Deemed University and works under the umbrella of the Department of Atomic Energy of the Government of India. It is located at Navy Nagar, Colaba, Mumbai...

 in Bombay, and the Atomic Energy Commission of India
Atomic Energy Commission of India
The Atomic Energy Commission is a governing body functioning under the Department of Atomic Energy , Government of India. The DAE is under the direct charge of the Prime Minister.- History :...

 three years later. In the 1950s, Bhabha represented India in International Atomic Energy Forums, and served as President of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in Geneva, Switzerland in 1955. He was awarded Padma Bhushan
Padma Bhushan
The Padma Bhushan is the third highest civilian award in the Republic of India, after the Bharat Ratna and the Padma Vibhushan, but comes before the Padma Shri. It is awarded by the Government of India.-History:...

 by Government of India in 1954. He later served as the member of the Indian Cabinet's Scientific Advisory Committee and set up the Indian National Committee for Space Research
Indian National Committee for Space Research
The Indian National Committee for Space Research was set up in 1962 by the Indian Government under Dr. Vikram Sarabhai to formulate the Indian Space Program. At the time, the committee was part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, led by M. G. K. Menon. The committee took over the...

 with Vikram Sarabhai
Vikram Sarabhai
Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai was an Indian physicist. He is considered to be the father of the Indian space program; legendary Homi Bhabha’s successor as chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission; and was as at home in the world of the arts as in his favourite laboratory. His interests were vast and...

. In January 1966, Bhabha died in a plane crash near Mont Blanc
Mont Blanc
Mont Blanc or Monte Bianco , meaning "White Mountain", is the highest mountain in the Alps, Western Europe and the European Union. It rises above sea level and is ranked 11th in the world in topographic prominence...

, while heading to Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, Austria to attend a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency
International Atomic Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

's Scientific Advisory Committee.

Early life


Bhabha was born into a wealthy and prominent Parsi
Parsi
Parsi or Parsee refers to a member of the larger of the two Zoroastrian communities in South Asia, the other being the Irani community....

 family, through which he was related to Dinshaw Maneckji Petit
Dinshaw Maneckji Petit
Sir Dinshaw Maneckji Petit, 1st Baronet , Parsi entrepreneur and founder of the first textile mills in India. He was also the grandfather of Rattanbai Petit Jinnah, who later became the wife of the founder of Pakistan, Mr...

, Muhammad Ali Jinnah
Muhammad Ali Jinnah
Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a Muslim lawyer, politician, statesman and the founder of Pakistan. He is popularly and officially known in Pakistan as Quaid-e-Azam and Baba-e-Qaum ....

 and Dorab Tata
Dorabji Tata
Sir Dorabji Tata , was an Indian industrialist and philanthropist, and a key figure in the history and development of the Tata industrial empire...

. He received his early education at Bombay's Cathedral Grammar School
Cathedral and John Connon School
The Cathedral and John Connon School is a co-educational, private school located in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, established in 1860.According to the Education World-C fore Survey of Schools 2010, the school has been ranked first in the all India ranking of the best schools in India.It was ranked...

 and entered Elphinstone College
Elphinstone College
Elphinstone College is an institution of higher education affiliated to the University of Mumbai. Established in 1856, it is one of the oldest colleges of the University of Mumbai. It was exalted as a prestigious seat of learning during the British Raj and is generally observed for its vibrant alumni...

 at age 15 after passing his Senior Cambridge Examination
Senior Cambridge
The Senior Cambridge examinations were General Certificate of Education examinations held in Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore, India, and Jamaica. They were preceded by the Junior Cambridge and Preliminary Cambridge examinations.-India:...

 with Honors. He then attended the Royal Institute of Science
Institute of Science
The Institute of Science is an institution of postgraduate education and research located in Mumbai, India. It is managed by the Government of Maharashtra and is currently affiliated to the University of Mumbai.Established in 1920...

 until 1927 before joining Caius College
Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge
Gonville and Caius College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England. The college is often referred to simply as "Caius" , after its second founder, John Keys, who fashionably latinised the spelling of his name after studying in Italy.- Outline :Gonville and...

 of Cambridge University
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

. This was due to the insistence of his father and his uncle Dorab Tata, who planned for Bhabha to obtain an engineering
Engineering
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...

 degree from Cambridge and then return to India, where he would join the Tata Iron and Steel Company
Tata Steel
Tata Steel is a multinational steel company headquartered in Jamshedpur, India and part of Tata Group. It is the world's seventh-largest steel company, with an annual crude steel capacity of 31 million tonnes, and the largest private-sector steel company in India measured by domestic production...

 in Jamshedpur.

Higher education and research at Cambridge


At Cambridge Bhabha's interests gradually shifted to theoretical physics. In 1928 Bhabha in a letter to his father. Bhabha's father understood his son's predicament, and he agreed to finance his studies in mathematics provided that he obtain first class on his Mechanical Sciences Tripos
Tripos
The University of Cambridge, England, divides the different kinds of honours bachelor's degree by Tripos , plural Triposes. The word has an obscure etymology, but may be traced to the three-legged stool candidates once used to sit on when taking oral examinations...

 exam. Bhabha took the Tripos exam in June 1930 and passed with first class. Afterwards, he embarked on his mathematical studies under Paul Dirac
Paul Dirac
Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac, OM, FRS was an English theoretical physicist who made fundamental contributions to the early development of both quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics...

 to complete the Mathematics Tripos. Meanwhile, he worked at the Cavendish Laboratory
Cavendish Laboratory
The Cavendish Laboratory is the Department of Physics at the University of Cambridge, and is part of the university's School of Physical Sciences. It was opened in 1874 as a teaching laboratory....

 while working towards his doctorate in theoretical physics. At the time, the laboratory was the center of a number of scientific breakthroughs. James Chadwick
James Chadwick
Sir James Chadwick CH FRS was an English Nobel laureate in physics awarded for his discovery of the neutron....

 had discovered the neutron
Neutron
The neutron is a subatomic hadron particle which has the symbol or , no net electric charge and a mass slightly larger than that of a proton. With the exception of hydrogen, nuclei of atoms consist of protons and neutrons, which are therefore collectively referred to as nucleons. The number of...

, John Cockcroft
John Cockcroft
Sir John Douglas Cockcroft OM KCB CBE FRS was a British physicist. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for splitting the atomic nucleus with Ernest Walton, and was instrumental in the development of nuclear power....

 and Ernest Walton
Ernest Walton
Ernest Thomas Sinton Walton was an Irish physicist and Nobel laureate for his work with John Cockcroft with "atom-smashing" experiments done at Cambridge University in the early 1930s, and so became the first person in history to artificially split the atom, thus ushering the nuclear age...

 transmuted
Nuclear transmutation
Nuclear transmutation is the conversion of one chemical element or isotope into another. In other words, atoms of one element can be changed into atoms of other element by 'transmutation'...

 lithium
Lithium
Lithium is a soft, silver-white metal that belongs to the alkali metal group of chemical elements. It is represented by the symbol Li, and it has the atomic number 3. Under standard conditions it is the lightest metal and the least dense solid element. Like all alkali metals, lithium is highly...

 with high-energy protons, and Patrick Blackett
Patrick Blackett, Baron Blackett
Patrick Maynard Stuart Blackett, Baron Blackett OM CH FRS was an English experimental physicist known for his work on cloud chambers, cosmic rays, and paleomagnetism. He also made a major contribution in World War II advising on military strategy and developing Operational Research...

 and Giuseppe Occhialini
Giuseppe Occhialini
Giuseppe Paolo Stanislao "Beppo" Occhialini ForMemRS was an Italian physicist, who contributed to the discovery of the pion or pi-meson decay in 1947, with César Lattes and Cecil Frank Powell . At the time of this discovery, they were all working at the H. H...

 used cloud chamber
Cloud chamber
The cloud chamber, also known as the Wilson chamber, is a particle detector used for detecting ionizing radiation. In its most basic form, a cloud chamber is a sealed environment containing a supersaturated vapor of water or alcohol. When a charged particle interacts with the mixture, it ionizes it...

s to demonstrate the production of electron pairs
Lone pair
In chemistry, a lone pair is a valence electron pair without bonding or sharing with other atoms. They are found in the outermost electron shell of an atom, so lone pairs are a subset of a molecule's valence electrons...

 and showers
Particle shower
In particle physics, a shower is a cascade of secondary particles produced as the result of a high-energy particle interacting with dense matter. The incoming particle interacts, producing multiple new particles with lesser energy; each of these then interacts in the same way, a process that...

 by gamma radiation. During the 1931–1932 academic year, Bhabha was awarded the Salomons Studentship in Engineering. In 1932, he obtained first class on his Mathematical Tripos
Cambridge Mathematical Tripos
The Mathematical Tripos is the taught mathematics course at the University of Cambridge. It is the oldest Tripos that is examined in Cambridge.-Origin:...

 and was awarded the Rouse Ball
W. W. Rouse Ball
-External links:*...

 traveling studentship in mathematics.

Research in theoretical physics

In January 1933, Bhabha published his first scientific paper, "The Absorption of Cosmic radition". In the publication, Bhabha offered an explanation of the absorption features and electron shower production in cosmic rays.The paper helped him win the Isaac Newton Studentship in 1934, which he held for the next three years. The following year, he completed his doctoral studies in theoretical physics under Ralph H. Fowler. During his studentship, he split his time working at Cambridge and with Niels Bohr in Copenhagen. In 1935, Bhabha published a paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series A, in which performed the first calculation to determine the cross section of electron-positron scattering. Electron-positron scattering was later named Bhabha scattering, in honor of his contributions in the field[citation needed].

In 1936, the two published a paper, "The Passage of Fast Electrons and the Theory of Cosmic Showers" in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series A, in which they used their theory to describe how primary cosmic rays from outer space interact with the upper atmosphere to produce particles observed at the ground level. Bhabha and Heitler then made numerical estimates of the number of electrons in the cascade process at different altitudes for different electron initiation energies. The calculations agreed with the experimental observations of cosmic ray showers made by Bruno Rossi and Pierre Victor Auger a few years before. Bhabha later concluded that observations of the properties of such particles would lead to the straightforward experimental verification of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity. In 1937, Bhabha was awarded the Senior Studentship of the 1851 Exhibition, which helped him continue his work at Cambridge until the outbreak of World War II in 1939.

Return to India


In September 1939, Bhabha was in India for a brief holiday when World War II broke out, and he decided not to return to England for the time being. He accepted an offer to serve as the Reader in the Physics Department of the Indian Institute of Science
Indian Institute of Science
Indian Institute of Science is a research institution of higher learning located in Bangalore, India. It was established in 1909.-History:After a chance meeting between Jamsetji N...

, then headed by renowned physicist C. V. Raman. He received a special research grant from the Sir Dorab Tata Trust, which he used to establish the Cosmic Ray Research Unit at the institute. Bhabha selected a few students, including Harish-Chandra
Harish-Chandra
Harish-Chandra was an Indian mathematician, who did fundamental work in representation theory, especially Harmonic analysis on semisimple Lie groups. -Life:...

, to work with him. Later, on 20 March 1941, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

 . With the help of J. R. D. Tata
J. R. D. Tata
Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata was a pioneer aviator and important businessman of India. He was awarded India's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna in 1992 and the Legion of Honour from the French government in 1954.-Early life and education:J. R. D...

, he played an instrumental role in the establishment of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research is a research institution in India dedicated to basic research in mathematics and the sciences. It is a Deemed University and works under the umbrella of the Department of Atomic Energy of the Government of India. It is located at Navy Nagar, Colaba, Mumbai...

 in Bombay.
,,

Atomic Energy in India



When Bhabha was working at the Indian Institute of Science, there was no institute in India which had the necessary facilities for original work in nuclear physics, cosmic rays, high energy physics, and other frontiers of knowledge in physics. This prompted him to send a proposal in March 1944 to the Sir Dorab J. Tata Trust for establishing 'a vigorous school of research in fundamental physics'. In his proposal he wrote :
The trustees of Sir Dorab J. Tata Trust decided to accept Bhabha's proposal and financial responsibility for starting the Institute in April 1944. Bombay was chosen as the location for the prosed Institute as the Government of Bombay showed interest in becoming a joint founder of the proposed institute. The institute, named Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research is a research institution in India dedicated to basic research in mathematics and the sciences. It is a Deemed University and works under the umbrella of the Department of Atomic Energy of the Government of India. It is located at Navy Nagar, Colaba, Mumbai...

, was inaugurated in 1945 in 540 square meters of hired space in an existing building. In 1948 the Institute was moved into the old buildings of the Royal Yacht club.
When Bhabha realized that technology development for the atomic energy programme could no longer be carried out within TIFR he proposed to the government to build a new laboratory entirely devoted to this purpose. For this purpose, 1200 acres of land was acquired at Trombay from the Bombay Government. Thus the Atomic Energy Establishment Trombay (AEET) started functioning in 1954. The same year the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) was also established. He represented India in International Atomic Energy Forums, and as President of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, in Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

, Switzerland in 1955. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. The Academy’s elected members are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs.James Bowdoin, John Adams, and...

 in 1958.

Death and legacy


He died when Air India
Air India
Air India is the flag carrier airline of India. It is part of the government of India owned Air India Limited . The airline operates a fleet of Airbus and Boeing aircraft serving Asia, Australia, Europe and North America. Its corporate office is located at the Air India Building at Nariman...

 Flight 101
Air India Flight 101
Air India Flight 101 was a scheduled Air India passenger flight that crashed into Mont Blanc in France on the morning of 24 January 1966.-Accident:...

crashed near Mont Blanc on January 24, 1966. Many possible theories have been advanced for the aircrash, including a conspiracy theory in which CIA is involved in order to paralyze Indian nuclear weapon programme. After his death, the Atomic Energy Establishment at Trombay was renamed as the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre
Bhabha Atomic Research Centre
The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre is India's primary nuclear research facility based in Mumbai. It has a number of nuclear reactors, all of which are used for India's nuclear power and research programme.- History :...

 in his honour.

In addition to being an able scientist and administrator, Bhabha was also a painter and a classical music and opera enthusiast, besides being an amateur botanist.He is one of the most prominent scientists that India has ever had. Bhabha also encouraged research in electronics
Electronics
Electronics is the branch of science, engineering and technology that deals with electrical circuits involving active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits, and associated passive interconnection technologies...

, space science
Space science
The term space science may mean:* The study of issues specifically related to space travel and space exploration, including space medicine.* Science performed in outer space ....

, radio astronomy
Radio astronomy
Radio astronomy is a subfield of astronomy that studies celestial objects at radio frequencies. The initial detection of radio waves from an astronomical object was made in the 1930s, when Karl Jansky observed radiation coming from the Milky Way. Subsequent observations have identified a number of...

 and microbiology
Microbiology
Microbiology is the study of microorganisms, which are defined as any microscopic organism that comprises either a single cell , cell clusters or no cell at all . This includes eukaryotes, such as fungi and protists, and prokaryotes...

. The famed radio telescope at Ooty, India was his initiative, and it became a reality in 1970. The Homi Bhabha Fellowship Council has been giving the Homi Bhabha Fellowships since 1967 Other noted institutions in his name are the Homi Bhabha National Institute
Homi Bhabha National Institute
The Homi Bhabha National Institute, / होमी भाभा राष्ट्रीय संस्थान is a prestigious Indian deemed university, which unifies 10 Constituent Institutions :* 4 Premier centers* 6 Premier autonomous institutes,...

, an Indian deemed university and the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education
Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education
Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education is a National Centre of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research , Mumbai, India. The broad goals of the Centre are to promote equity and excellence in science and mathematics education from primary school to undergraduate college level, and encourage the...

, Mumbai
Mumbai
Mumbai , formerly known as Bombay in English, is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India, and the fourth most populous city in the world, with a total metropolitan area population of approximately 20.5 million...

, India.

External References