Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Sir Jagadis Chunder Bose

In Calcutta, there stands the Bose Institute, a university named for Sir Jagadis Chunder Bose. His original equipment and some of his lab are on display there. His ashes literally sit in a shrine. But in the west his name is unknown. He was born in India, but studied medicine at the University of London and Natural Science at Christ's College Cambridge. Then he returned to India. That's why we ignore an accomplished polymath. While his education happened in the west, his discoveries did not. We even refuse to spell his name right. Above is his signature. Despite that, we write it Jagadish Chandra Bose...

He developed the first point contact diode. (image below) Yes, that is the first "cats whisker" use of galena crystals for making receivers. He tested it with a galvanometer on both radio waves and with light. He was awarded a patent in 1904. but it wasn't his first work. It was just his first substantial patent. In general, he seemed to avoid patenting his work. More here.
In in Kolkata, in November of 1894 Bose demonstrated the ringing of a bell at a distance of a mile with 6mm microwaves. He also ignited gunpowder at a distance. Interestingly his microwave vies with the work of Augusto Righi for first generated microwave. He wrote "“The invisible light can easily pass through brick walls, buildings etc. Therefore, messages can be transmitted by means of it without the mediation of wires.” More here.

He developed wave guides, horn antenna, cut off grating, the mercury coherer, the dialectic lens, microwave reflectors, the double prism directional coupler, semiconductors, the polarimeter, interferometer, dielectrometer... Essentially the only item in his demonstration was the galvanometer which was invented by J.S. Schweigger. He authored a biography a science fiction novel and a series of quack Buddhist text books on plant response. Despite the weird plant thing he was knighted in 1917 and in 1920 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. He died in 1937, a week before his 80th birthday.