Dr Homi J. Bhabha was a physicist, who is regarded as the father of India's nuclear program, and later the founding director of an institute named the Atomic Energy Establishment. In addition, Dr Homi developed India's nuclear weapons, strengthening the country's political position among the developed countries.
Education and Life History
He was born on October 30th, 1909, into a Parsi family when the Britishers were ruling India. The father of Dr Homi J. Bhabha was a famous lawyer. He completed his early education at Bombay Cathedral and John Connon School and received a college degree from Elphinstone College. His further studies were done at Caius College, Cambridge.
Contributions to Nuclear Physics
Dr Bhabha has made remarkable contributions to nuclear physics through his research work.
● The first doctoral paper, titled "The Absorption of Cosmic Radiation," explained electron shower production and absorption within cosmic rays.
● In 1936, Bhabha published a paper named "Passage of Fast Electrons and Theory of Cosmic Showers". He was a co-author and worked with a German physicist.
These theories discussed in the paper describe the interaction of cosmic rays in outer space with the upper layers of the atmosphere. This interaction helps particles that we usually observe from ground level.
The numerical estimate provided all the explanation. The theorists also concluded that such an observation could verify the relativity theory of Albert Einstein.
● He gave new theories and explanations for electrons in varied altitudes through numerics.
● Considering his research work, in 1851, Bhabha was granted a senior studentship. This extended his work at Cambridge University until World War II, which started in 1939.
● Not only did he make a significant contribution to nuclear physics, but he also inspired many young minds in this field.
Some Facts about Dr Bhabha
The experiments of Homi J. Bhabha fascinate young minds like Piara Singh Gill, who switched her profession to nuclear physics.
● Apart from being a great physicist, Bhabha was a great painter. His love for opera and Indian classical music cannot be denied.
● He went to study engineering, although later, Bhabha decided to pursue physics due to his passion and interest.
Return to India
Bhabha was working on international projects when World War II started. Soon, in 1939, Bhabha returns to India for a short time but decides to stay. He became a reader at the Indian Institute of Science within the Physics Department of India. After receiving the grant, he opened his trust, named the Sir Dorab Tata Trust.
Contribution and Acknowledgements
Bhabha played a significant role in strengthening India's position in science and technology.
● His contributions to physics include work like Compton Scattering, and significant progress in nuclear physics, R- Process, and others.
● Bhabha convinced PM Nehru to initiate the atomic program.
● He independently worked to develop nuclear weapons.
● Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Bombay.
● In 1948, Bhabha was the first chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission.
The Indian Nuclear Programme
Bhabha's contributions to research on nuclear weapons and physics made him the father of the nuclear program. During his leadership, strategies were developed to extract power from thorium. As a result, India has an abundance of thorium, which is used to generate electricity. This nuclear program was a pilot project for India and other nations.
It improved India's geopolitical position. The nuclear program that Bhabha initiated is subdivided into three stages: highly pressurized heavy water reactors, faster breeder reactors, and thorium-based reactors.
Bhabha died in 1966 due to the crash of an aeroplane. He was going to Austria to be part of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the International Atomic Energy Agency. However, the reason for the crash was a miscommunication between Geneva Airport's ATC and the pilot of Air India 101.
Awards and Recognition
Bhabha's interest in and passion for nuclear physics won many recognitions and awards. This started during Newton's studentship in 1934 after he published his first paper. In 1851, he also acquired a senior scholarship.
Bhabha was chosen as a Royal Society fellow in 1941. In the following year, 1942, he was also given the Adamz Prize. This is the highest honorary award of Cambridge University.
The Indian government also recognised his contribution to nuclear physics. As a result, he received the Padma Bhushan, which is also prestigious. He also became a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Science.