Saturday, February 14, 2009

Centenary of a great nuclear physicist

Homi Jehanghir Bhabha the great Indian scientist and innovator.

Born on October 30, 1909, this is the birth centenary year of this great Indian scientist. A great Indian nuclear physicist of Parsi-Zoroastrian heritage, he is truly the father of India’s atomic energy program.

His days at the Cambridge University where he gained sufficient exposure to high-quality experiential work on the structure and properties of matter at the Cavendish Laboratory prompted him to pursue further research in this area. His main philosophy was that fundamental research was the backbone of creativity. He dwelt mainly on two branches of science, one radio astronomy and the other molecular biology.

Dr. Bhabha developed Science and Technology (S&T). His rapport with Nehru provided the necessary impetus to the growth of this field. His efforts saw several developments at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) such as the Technical Physics Division, the Electronics Division, and the Health and Safety Groups related to radiation use; these units all flourish well today and enjoy international recognition. He nucleated, supported and multiplied nuclear programs relevant to India. His main driving philosophy was that economics alone should not decide future programs and repeatedly stressed an indigenous self-reliant nuclear program.

He also emphasized a lot on the need to expand research and development in applied areas like chemical engineering, metallurgy and reprocessing as also the need for pilot plant studies. He invited the best talents from the universities and proved excellent hand-on experience to them in laboratories. Very often, he would overrule the decisions of the bureaucracy in order to maintain quality.

He was also very keen on the social needs and hence he emphasized on the basic amenities like housing, educational facilities, transportation, etc. The Anushakthi complex, the Kalpakkam complex and multiple housing units under the Department of Atomic Energy bear testimonial to his efforts in these areas. He can verily be called a scientific administrator, a social reformer and a diplomat. He was also a musician and a painter.

He died prematurely in an Air India Boeing 707 air crash near Mont Blanc on January 24, 1966 while heading to Vienna. The Bhabha Atomic Research Center is named after him.
Source: Times of India, February 14, 2009
Image: Google

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