Satyendra Nath Bose


Known as Professor S.N. Bose, Satyendra Nath Bose was an internationally renowned Indian physicist. His best-known work was on quantum mechanics which he put forward in the early 1920s. This paved the way for the formulation of what is known as Bose-Einstein Statistics and the theory of Bose-Einstein Condensate. The particle boson is named after him. Because of his contribution to Einstein’s theory of relativity, Professor Bose was popularly known in Bengal, his homeland, as ‘Einstein Bose’.

In 1924, when Bose was working at the Dacca University, then in India, his paper on ‘Planck’s Law and the Light Quantum Hypothesis’ was published in Europe, in an annotated German translation by Einstein. Einstein also wrote to his Indian colleague, congratulating him on his research.

The concepts of the boson, Bose-Einstein statistics and Bose-Einstein condensate were closely related to the award of Nobel Prize more than once, Bose was never considered for the prestigious prize. The 2001 Nobel Prize was given for advancing the theory of Bose-Einstein condensates.

There is an interesting anecdote that goes round the scientific circles as mentioned in some of his biographical notes. Once the great scientist, Niels Bohr, was delivering a lecture. At one stage the lecturer had some difficulty in explaining a point. He had been writing on the black board; he stopped and, turning to Bose, said. “Can Professor Bose help me?’ All the while Bose had been sitting with his eyes shut. The audience could not help smiling at Professor Bohr’s words. But to their great surprise, Bose opened his eyes, and in an instant he solved the lecturer’s problem. Then he sat down and once again closed his eyes!

Satyendra Nath Bose was born in 1894 and had a brilliant academic record as a student. He was a product of the Presidency College in Calcutta, India. He joined the Calcutta University college of Science as a lecturer and was there from 1917 to 1921. After this he worked as a reader in the University of Dacca, then became professor in which post he continued till 1945. His works covered a variety of areas like statistical mechanics, the electromagnetic properties of ionosphere, theories of x-ray crystallography and unified field theory, which was a dream topic for Einstein’s research and this went on through his final phase of life.