New Delhi, Mar 3 (PTI) A monograph traces the life and times of the father of India’s nuclear power project Homi Jehangir Bhabha, his rich scientific legacy and vision besides talking about his passionate interest in art and architecture and his love for classical music.
In “Homi J Bhabha: A Renaissance Man among Scientists”, astrophysicist Biman Nath describes how the rare combination of calibre and confidence in Bhabha made him the icon that he was.
The monograph, published by Niyogi Books under its ‘Pioneers of Modern India’ series also sheds light on Bhabha’s close friendship with Jawaharlal Nehru while also delving into his difficult working relationship with renowned astrophysicist Meghnad Saha.
Nath at the outset provides an account of Bhabha’s family history and the influences that shaped his childhood.
“What is interesting is that Bhabha’s fascination with fundamental physics and, in particular, the special theory of relativity and its effect on time, goes back to his childhood. It is said that he had studied the theory of relativity by the time he was sixteen,” he writes.
Young Bhabha’s house was the hub of the Parsi community’s business meetings and this provided him with the unique opportunity of witnessing up close personalities involved in the Indian nationalist movement including Mahatma Gandhi.
Bhabha’s life and contribution to science, along with that of Vikram Sarabhai regarded as the ‘Father of Indian Space Programme’, were dramatised in the recently released SonyLIV series “Rocket Boys”.
In his book, Nath tries to establish how Bhabha’s education in premier institutions in India and abroad, in a way, ensured the path he would tread.
A member of the Royal Society, his work on Compton scattering and R-process, along with his advancement of nuclear physics, made him a force to reckon with in the global scientific community. He achieved international recognition when he derived a correct expression for the probability of scattering positrons by electrons, now known as Bhabha scattering.
Bhabha also served as the president of the United Nations Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in Geneva in 1955 and as president of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics from 1960-1963.
According to Nath, what set Bhabha apart was his ambition, farsightedness and enterprise that was instrumental in the development of modern science in India.
He understood early on newly independent India’s need for achieving self-reliance in the field of scientific research. To this end, he worked tirelessly, laying the framework for nuclear research in India by founding the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay (AEET), later renamed Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in his honour.
A multifaceted genius, Bhabha’s lifelong interest in classical music, art and architecture, and painting provided him solace as well as an outlet for his creative mind.
In fact, Bhabha took a special interest in the history of art and architecture in India.
In his own words, “Art, music, poetry, and everything else that I do have this one purpose – increasing the intensity of my consciousness and life.” Nath calls Bhabha one of the last of the Renaissance men that the world has witnessed.
“Bhabha was driven by an inner aesthetic that encompassed his visions, that ranged from his mathematical theories of particles, architectural design of his institutions, to the ambience of scientific research in India that he knew,” he writes.
According to Nath, the first day cover of the postage stamp issued in Bhabha’s honour by the government summed up his persona.
“The cover showed him gently brooding over Trombay, where he built his nuclear city, and beside him was an artist’s palette, and below him, the ‘Ode to Joy’ theme from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony,” he says. PTI ZMN RDS RDS RDS
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Source: The Print