S N Bose Project is a grandson's biographical research on the life and times of Professor Satyendra Nath Bose (1894-1974) — Indian mathematical-physicist, humanist, and multi-faceted genius ... a polymath in diverse fields of science, education, literature, music, politics, social reform, and philanthropy.

11 December 2007

Satyen Bose in Berlin

Satyendra Nath Bose was not known to talk or write very much about himself. That is why there is very little first hand account of his activities and experiences. It is evident that he was uncomfortable discussing himself, and always, whether in conversation or writing, deflected the topic away. As such, few know extensive details about Bose's life from Bose himself. Many who knew Bose have written their recollections in memoir form, but beyond their narrow experience, few can convey the expanse of his life.

One person who has a deeper understanding of Bose is one of his leading biographers, Dr. Purnima Sinha . Dr.
Sinha was a student of Bose at Calcutta University College of Science in the early 1950s. She received her doctorate in physics under Bose in 1956-7, and has the distinction of being the first Bengali woman to receive a Ph.D. in physics. She is a pioneer in her field, and has also as written extensively on music, biography, and popularizing science in the vernacular. She has also written books and articles on Bose. [Pictured at right is Dr. Sinha as a physics student in 1954. She is flanked by Bose (r) and PAM Dirac (l). This picture was taken by Mrs. Dirac in front of the Great Banyan Tree at the Botanical Gardens in Kolkata, India during their visit. Photo courtesy of Dr. SupurnaSinha.)

Sinha is the maiden offering in our new Guest Contributor series! We have republished an article she wrote on Satyen Bose in Berlin on the S N Bose Project. We are honored to have Dr. Sinha as our first contributor.

Little is known about Bose's time in Europe during his first visit in the years 1924 - 1926. After writing his celebrated 1924 paper on
Planck's Law and the Light Quantum Hypothesis, the seminal moment in Bose-Einstein Statistics (which eventually becomes the basis of the Bose-Einstein Condensate), Bose received a post card from Einstein. In it, Einstein states that he would translate Bose's paper into German and publish it in the leading scientific journal of the day, Zeitschrift für Physik. Einstein exclaimed Bose's work to be a "beautiful step forward."

Bose showed the postcard to the German consulate, and immediately received a visa to travel to Germany. Based on his paper and Einstein's favorable response, the
Dacca University awarded Bose two year study leave to go to Europe to meet the master.

Bose set sail to Europe from Bombay, and reached Paris on 18 October 1924. There he met leading scientific and intellectual figures of the day, including Madame Curie, Paul
Langevin, Maurice de Broglie, Sylvan Levi, and many others. After spending a year in Paris, he set off to Berlin to meet Einstein in 1925.I will write more about Bose's stay in Paris elsewhere, but in Berlin, Bose met Einstein (although he had to wait a few weeks since Einstein was traveling outside of the country, apparently in South America, when he arrived). While there, Bose had access to the leading laboratories of Berlin, as well as the fantastic libraries of the University. He met the leading scientific figures of what could be considered the capital of the quantum revolution. He gave lectures at seminars attended by some of the giants of quantum theory, Einstein, of course, but also Max Planck, Walther Nernst, Max von Laue, Fritz Haber, Otto Hahn, Lise Meitner, and many others. He had long discussions with Einstein, and formulated close friendships with many others.

Dr. Sinha publishes an interview with Professor Herman Mark, an internationally recognized chemist who became friends with Bose during this time. Professor Mark formed a warm friendship with Bose that lasted over 50 years, in fact for the rest of their lives. The interview was taken in 1974, and conducted by Dr. Jagdish Sharma, a student of Bose who worked at the Naval Laboratories in Washington D.C., USA. Professor Mark taught at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, where he founded a strong polymer program.

Some interesting moments from the interview include:

Mark: Well, maybe, when he was in Vienna you know, that was in 1926 and he gave a seminar and I mentioned that there was Schrödinger, and many very good physicists in Vienna. And that was already when Schrödinger was thinking on wave mechanics you know, because his paper came out in 1926, there was a very interesting conversation. Louis de Broglie's thesis was published ... then of course, everybody realised that it was Bose that was the forerunner...it was the statistical expression of the wave nature of an electron and then the question was, "Okay, what are we going to do now?
Along with Professor Mark, Dr. Sinha met and corresponded with Bose's close friend Madame Jacqueline Eisenmann, whom he met in Paris. Madame Eisenmann gives a fond recollection of Bose's genius for science, passion for music and his love for the Bengali language. Madame Eisenmann spoke of Bose's meetings with Madame Curie, Paul Langevin, and the famous French Indologist Sylvan Lévi. She gives special insight into other aspects of Bose's personality, as when she says:
Sylvain Lévi, the great Indianist and Sanskritist, was a freind of my father (Dr. Leon Zadoc-Kahn who was in 1943 assasinated by the Germans with my mother). Learning from my father that I intended to work in Physics, Lévi said he would make me know 'un jeune physician genial." I was very impatient to meet this genius. When he came to my lab, accompanied by another Indian named Tendulkar, he [Lévi] did not tell me so as to tease me, who was the physicist. Bose was so unassuming that I didn't find out immediately who was who! From that day I saw him very often. He always went to [Paul] Langevin's lectures. Langevin gave many lectures. Louis de Broglie came later, Langevin told Madame Curie about him. Bose worked in Madame Curie's lab and in Maurice de Broglie's lab for sometime. He went very much to the museum, loved nature, particularly the alps, went to see and live in the countryside....

He talked much about Bengali ... writing science in Bengali -- to teach the students in Bengali. He impressed me very much by his great love for his country. He never went to England until India was free. In 1953 he went to England and lived with [Paul] Dirac.
It was a great joy to know Bose at all. He was so wonderful, so gifted, knew so much about Hebrew literature and religion. He had an extraordinary heart! He had nearly feminine reaction! He had no ambition for himself, too modest and humble a young man.
Finally, Dr. Sinha ends this remarkable article by quoting the famous mathematician André Weil of the Institute of Advanced Study at Princeton. Weil, who spent time in Dacca University in the 1930s, when asked about Bose's contributions, he replied
I do not agree with those who suggest that his career and reputation was based on a piece of luck viz, the fact that Einstein took up his early contribution to theoretical physics. The quality of his intelligence was such that he deserved whatever position and honours came to him. One can only deplore that, for lack of a suitable environment, he was unable to realize his potentiality fully.There is no doubt in my mind that, given more favourable circumstances, he was well fitted to play a most important role in laying the foundations for scientific research in India.

We are very excited and honored to have Dr. Purnima Sinha's recollections and interviews as our first Guest Contributor article.

Look for future publications by S N Bose Project of prominent personalities and their recollections of
Satyendra Nath Bose.

Read the full article on the S N Bose Project site! If you have any thoughts, comments or feedback, please do email us at the Project, or submit a blog comment below!


29 November 2007

Video - Bose-Einstein Condensate Explained

Recently saw that someone spotted a 2:39 video clip posted on YouTube that explains Bose-Einstein Condensation. Not sure where the video is from (there is a small BBC Hour logo on the screen, so perhaps its a BBC Documentary or something). Need to find that out. If anyone knows, please post a comment or email us!

At any rate, the video clip is short, and explains BEC in an accessible manner. It doesn't go too deeply into the details of the theory or its implications, but its fun to watch. I especially like the beginning segment where people in an amusement park are spinning around, and flying off the ride!


29 September 2007

Our Alma Mater - Celebrating Dhaka University

Dhaka University has published an ambitious volume commemorating the Year of Physics! The volume includes Einstein's seminal 1905 paper on the special theory of relativity, along with Bose's 1924 paper on quantum statistics and its Bengali translation.

Our Alma Mater: Celebrating the Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of the Theory of Relativity, Edited by A.M. Harun-ar-Rashid, celebrates the founding of Dhaka University, and the role it played in the history of physics, as well as the history of Bengal and Bangladesh and its intellectual contributions. While Bose's work, and his relationship to Einstein, anchors the book, there appears to be a lot of other interesting articles by various writers in Dhaka. The price tag of US $100 (!!) seems quite steep, especially in countries like India and Bangladesh, and seems to make the target audience quite limited.

There is also an article by my uncle Rathindranath Bose, Satyen Bose's eldest son, which I will try and get a copy of and post to the S N Bose Project website.

Dr Partha Ghose, a student of Bose, wrote a review in the Telegraph (Kolkata) which appeared on 28 September 2007.

Friday September 28, 2007
Our Alma Mater: Celebrating the Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of the Theory of Relativity, Edited by A.M. Harun-ar-Rashid,
Dhaka Physics Group, $100
We contacted Dr. Ghose and inquired about his article, and he was gracious enough to provide us with a longer and more detailed version. Dr. Ghose's writings are informed and detailed. He has been one of the people whose work has made valuable contributions to Bose scholarship over the years.

We thank him for allowing us to post the longer version below.

Our Alma Mater

The Dhaka Physics Group have recently published ‘Our Alma Mater’ (From Bose-Einstein to Salam-Weinberg and Beyond) in celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the Theory of Relativity. This 443 pages hard bound book contains a variety of articles, starting from the classic 1905 paper of Einstein on special relativity, Satyendranath Bose’s revolutionary paper of 1924 on quantum statistics together with a Bengali translation, an article on the famous Tagore-Einstein dialogue on epistemology, articles on how the University of Dhaka came to be established, the development of physics at Dhaka, reminiscences of the Curzon Hall (a beautiful building in which the Physics Department is housed), and some recent writings of Curzon hall alumni on diverse technical subjects such as cosmic strings, collapsing matter and wavelets as well as popular accounts of Einstein’s theories and astrophysics.

A Bengali translation of Satyen Bose’s paper on the light-quantum hypothesis is welcome as it can dispel many misconceptions among laypersons about the content of this revolutionary paper. Many still believe Bose made an important correction to Einstein’s equations of relativity which Einstein admitted! That it was not so but an outstandingly original and novel contribution to quantum theory of light which only Einstein recognized in the beginning, accepted and extended to other areas of physics, is hardly known. However, the translation that appears in the volume is a stiff literal one that one has to plod through. Tagore wanted to set an example of scientific writings in Bengali through his Visva Parichaya dedicated to Satyendranath Bose. He attempted to create a scientific literature in Bengali. Some of Satyen Bose’s essays in Bengali on scientific topics carry a definite literary flavour. This translation of Bose’s paper is very disappointing from that point of view.

Professor A. M. Harun ar Rashid’s piece on the Tagore-Einstein dialogue is a valuable addition to Bengali scientific literature, although it is not clear why this article has found place in this volume because it has nothing to do with the Dhaka University except in so far as it contains reflections on an important subject by a distinguished alumnus of the University. As a backdrop of the dialogue, Rashid explains the epistemological positions taken by a scientific realist like Einstein and contrasts it with the position taken by the positivistic Copenhagen School led by Niels Bohr on the question of the nature of physical reality as described by quantum theory. Einstein believed in a world ‘out there’, governed by strict causal laws and independent of our minds and existence. It is a metaphysical belief. The job of science is to capture this reality as faithfully as possible by observation/experimentation and reflection.

The Copenhagen school, on the other hand, argued that this was an old fashioned idea that did not fit with experience of the atomic micro world in which the observer seemed to play a fundamental role and pure chance seemed to rule over events. Rashid shows how a poet like Tagore took a position strangely similar to that of the Copenhagen school. Although the article is an excellent and readable account of the philosophical underpinnings and implications of the dialogue, there are certain statements in it that should not go unchallenged. Rashid writes:

This is why Rabindranath’s foggy “unclear” Indian philosophy could not influence Einstein at all. Rabindranath’s statement “the nature of truth which we are discussing is an appearance (vahyaroop)” is not correct. What the true nature of reality is cannot be said so easily. Actually, what is the hidden nature of reality or truth? No matter what Rabindranath says in Indian philosophy, it is impossible to answer this question without science. We do not as yet know the answer to this question. (Bengali to English translation mine)

Rashid has missed the point altogether. First of all, the word ‘appearance’ has been translated as vahyaroop (external appearance) by him, which is questionable. Rabindranath clarified what he meant by the word appearance: “that is to say, what appears to be true to the human mind and is therefore human …” and there is no hint of any externality in this. This is true of all scientific theories. According to Einstein himself, no scientific knowledge is possible “without free conceptual construction” (Autobiographical Notes, p. 49 in Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist, vol 1, ed. P.A. Schilpp, Harper Torchbooks, 1949). This is why scientific theories change as new facts are discovered that cannot be fitted into the existing theory.

In any case, Tagore was not pronouncing any final view of reality at all. All he was saying was, no matter what, the scientific concepts, whatever they may be, are those of man, and therefore human. He was not rejecting science at all, only pointing out the essential role of the human mind in scientific discovery. Einstein, on the other hand, simply held on to his metaphysical belief in an extra-human aspect of truth, something he admitted he could not justify and later called “objective reality”. Let me quote Abraham Pais, an eminent physicist and a biographer of Einstein, on this very issue: “Tagore could not accept this view. Neither can nearly all modern physicists, but for quite different reasons. This issue was also central to the dialogue between Einstein and Niels Bohr who like most of us, could not accept Einstein’s opinion – not on philosophical grounds but on physical grounds.” (A. Pais, Einstein Lived Here, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1994, p. 105). So, Tagore’s foggy “unclear” Indian philosophy is not so different from modern physics in its final conclusions after all.

The language of a poet, particularly like Tagore, is often designed to be elusive and suggestive in order to point to a deeper reality that transcends our naïve commonsense notions of reality. This is where Tagore found a similarity between his philosophy and modern physics, particularly relativity and quantum theory which reveal a reality beyond what appears to be true to our five senses. He was fascinated by it and called it the vaijnanik mayavada of modern science (Bhoomika, Visva Parichaya, Visva-Bharati).

Ajay Ray’s article on the Hartog-Satyen Bose letters is historically very valuable. It records how Bose came to be appointed by the Dhaka University, the difficulties he faced in relation to his salary, how he stuck to his principles leading to the formation of the Bose Committee, and how eventually not only were all his demands met by the University, he was given a two years study leave to go to Europe with a loan of Rs. 13,800 on the basis of a postcard he received from Albert Einstein thanking him for his important contribution to the quantum theory of light-quanta. Bose had hit upon this remarkable discovery while going through a period of financial uncertainty and mental strain.

Other articles of historical value that have found place in the volume are Abdus Salam’s “Nuclear Physics in Pakistan”, S. R. Khastgir’s “Polarization of Ionospherically Propagated Radio Waves”, R. C. Majumdar’s “Dhaka Visvavidyalayer Katha” Tagore’s address at the Dhaka University on “The Rule of the Giant” and Rathindranath Bose’s “Visvapadartha Vidyavarsha O Vijnanacharya Satyendranath Bose”. One learns from other articles in the volume how apart from S. N. Bose’s outstanding work, very important contributions to physics were made in Dhaka by K. S. Krishnan, Kedareshwar Banerjee, S. R. Khastgir, and others. The University had other stalwarts like Sir J. C. Ghosh in the ChemistryDepartment and R. C. Majumdar in the History Department. Later Majumdar became the Vice-Chancellor of the University. A glorious record indeed.

Unfortunately, the volume is somewhat marred by many typographical errors.


21 March 2007

S N Bose Website Relaunched

I haven't posted in a long time, but that doesn't mean that the S N Bose Biography Project hasn't been moving apace! On the contrary, I've been spending the last few weeks interviewing more people (many of whom, unfortunately, are getting on in years), and scanning hundreds of photos from the family archives.

The design for the first Biography Project product is underway, and we're all excited. Won't say what it is just yet, but come back and see in a few months!

Been having to read a lot of history of quantum physics, history of science in the west and in India, as well as the politics of language and nationalism. Fascinating stuff, although I must say, a bit daunting. Trying to make sense of it all through the lens of Bose is turning out to be quite an adventure.

We've also redesigned the Satyendra Nath Bose website. We've had a site for awhile but weren't happy with it. We've redesigned it to be more elegant as well as easier to read. Hope you enjoy! We're motivated to keep adding more content. Please feel free to provide feedback and comments at info@snbose.org.

Stay tuned, and thanks for your support!

25 January 2007

Part I: Bose and Saha First to Translate Relativity to English

Last January (2006) I attended a function at Calcutta University (officially the University of Calcutta), the alma mater of Satyendra Nath Bose. The gathering was one of many ongoing celebrations to commemorate 150 years of the existence of the University — or what they more accurately (and cleverly) call the Post Centenary Golden Jubilee. It was in 1857 that University of Calcutta, the University of Madras, and the University of Mumbai, were founded.

On that day, among the speeches by dignitaries, including the Governor of West Bengal and the Chief Minister of West Bengal, the University formally released a reprint of a book that was originally published by the Calcutta University in 1920. The book is titled: The Principle of Relativity. Original Papers by A. Einstein and H. Minkowski, translated into English by M.N. Saha and S.N. Bose with a historical introduction by P.C. Mahalanobis.

It is generally accepted, although not commonly known, that this publication was the first English translation from the original German of these famous papers — anywhere in the world. When I first learned this fact it struck me as remarkable that two young Lecturers of Physics and Applied Mathematics — Saha was 26 years old and Bose 25 — both entirely self-taught in physics, located in the far outskirts of the British Empire, a colonized people living under colonial rule, with very little access to the latest scientific publications coming out of Europe, were cognizant enough of the happenings in the world of science to embark on such a task in 1919-20.

It seemed even more remarkable when I learned that while Saha knew passable German, Bose had to learn German to do the work. The 176-page publication includes the following Table of Contents :
  1. Historical Introduction
    (By Mr. P.C. Mahalanobis)
  2. On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies
    [Einstein's first paper on the restricted (Special) Theory of Relativity, originally published in the Annalen der Physik in 1905. Translated from the original German by Dr. Meghnad Saha]
  3. Albrecht Einstein
    [A short biographical note by Dr. Meghnad Saha]
  4. Principle of Relativity
    [H. Minkowski's original paper on the restricted Principle of Relativity first published in 1909. Translated from the original German by Dr. Meghnad Saha]
  5. Appendix to the above by H. Minkowski
    [Translated by Dr. Meghnad Saha]
  6. The Foundation of the Generalized Theory of Relativity
    [A. Einstein's second paper on the Generalised Principle first published in 1916. Translated from the original German by Mr. Satyendra Nath Bose]
  7. Notes
Even more remarkable was that when Saha and Bose did their translations, the Theory of Relativity was not yet a wholly accepted theory. The world did not completely accept it until the famous solar eclipse of May 29, 1919. That was when the English astrophysicist Arthur Eddington travelled to the island of Príncipe off the west coast of Africa to take pictures of the sun during the eclipse.

Einstein's radical theory predicted that light from stars would curve during the eclipse due to the gravitational pull of the sun. Eddington published his observations verifying Einstein's predictions in 1920. But as soon as word got out of Eddington's findings, it was, as Einstein biographer Abraham Pais proclaimed in his classic book, Subtle is the Lord: The Science and Life of Albert Einstein (Oxford University Press 1992), the day Einstein was canonized — becoming the first celebrity scientist of the 20th century.

Eddington is to have said that verifying Einstein's theory was the "greatest moment in his life." Eddington was a proud man. An often repeated anecdote is recounted by Michio Kaku in his book Einstein's Cosmos (2004) :
According to legend, as Eddington left the assembly, another scientist [sometimes the story involves a reporter - Falguni] stopped him and asked, "There's a rumour that only three people in the entire world understood Einstein's theory. You must be one of them." Eddington stood in silence, so the scientist said, "Don't be modest, Eddington." Eddington shrugged, and said, "Not at all. I was wondering who the third might be." (p. 115)
When I first read this, I smiled to myself and thought, only half jokingly, that the mysterious third person(s) might have been Bose and Saha!

Part II: A Historical Novelty or Getting It Right?

Saha and Bose's translation of Einstein's Principle of Relativity was the first English translation available anywhere in the world.

All this is not to say that there weren't "issues" or problems with the translations. The critics were not kind, noting the lack of literal translation of the text, problems with the mathematics, pagination problems, missing footnotes, etc. However, while there were problems, it was generally appreciated that this work had been done as early as it was, and by such young thinkers.

Later, as others began to do translations of Einstein's relativity theories, Calcutta University was asked to stop the publication of these works. As Professor Jagdish Mehra, the remarkably prolific historian of quantum theory — including the multi-volume The Historical Development of Quantum Theory (Springer 1982) and The Golden Age of Theoretical Physics (World Scientific, 2001) — recounted in his interview with Bose near the end of Bose's life (published in his Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, 1975 on the occasion of Bose's death in 1974) :
Bose translated Einstein's 1916 paper on the foundation of the general theory of relativity. (Quoting Bose) "Relativity was of course a magnificent structure already. Special theory was a fascinating thing, four-dimensional representation, the work of Minkowski, just splendid. We studied all these papers and translated them.

"Later on other people took up the translation of Einstein's relativity papers. Einstein had given the translation rights to the Methuen people. They wanted to stop the distribution of our work. Einstein was very generous. He said that as long as the book remained in circulation inside India, he had no objection. After the excitement of the first year or so people dropped making inquiries about the book. It is out of print."
— reprinted in The Golden Age of Theoretical Physics, p. 506
Many years later, Physicist Partha Ghose, a Bose biographer and one of his last students, while conducting his diligent work preparing for Bose's Birth Centenary Celebrations in 1994, received a communication from Professor Max Jammer of Bar Ilan University in Israel. In it he replied to an inquiry by Professor Ghose about the 1919 translations, saying that while the work had many amateur qualities and mistakes, there was one item of note that makes the Saha-Bose translations more than just a historical novelty. He writes:
The M.N. Saha and S.N. Bose translation of Einstein's papers on relativity, published in 1920 in Calcutta, does not contain the error which C.B. Jeffry and W. Perrett committed in their well-known 1922 translation. It concerns Einstein's definition of simultaneity at the very beginning of the kinematical part of Einstein's famous 1905 paper 'On the electrodynamics of moving bodies' (Annalen der Physik, vol. 17). The British translators misread Einstein's 'nun' as 'nur' and rendered thereby erroneously a sufficient condition as a necessary condition, thus excluding the possibility of alternative definitions of simultaneity, a possibility contended by the proponents of the so-called conventionality thesis of distant simultaneity (Reichenbach, Grünbaum and others).
— Letter dated 10 October 1993.
— Reprinted in S.N. Bose: The Man and His Work, Vol. 2, p.29, published on the occasion of Bose's Birth Centenary celebrations in 1994 by S.N. Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, Kolkata

If Bose and Saha were alive today, I think they would have taken a certain pride in the fact that at least this part of their work had shown them to be more correct than the British.

Part III: Saha, Mahalanobis, Einstein and Tagore

After being the first to translate Einstein's Relativity theories from German to English, Saha and Bose continued to blossom in their career. They, along with P.C. Mahalanobis, who wrote the introduction, went on to have illustrious careers.

Meghnad Saha (1893-1956; Fellow Royal Society 1927; also here) went on to become world famous for his Saha Equation on the thermal ionization of elements, a basic tool to determine the spectra of stars and to determine the ionization elements of the stars. Among his many other notable achievements was the development of numerous scientific institutions in India, including the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, the journal Science and Culture (published by the Indian Science Association and started by Saha in 1934), and being in charge of river management and development for the Government of India. Saha and Bose were classmates since their childhood, and had a sometimes contentious, but always close, lifelong friendship.

Bose went on to discover Bose Statistics (1924), Fellow Royal Society 1958, and other things that we will cover in this Blog.

Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis (1893-1972, Fellow Royal Society 1945) is considered the father of applied statistics in India, and was one of India's leading planners. He was, among other things, the founder of the Indian Statistical Institute, as well as personal secretary to the Poet Rabindranath Tagore (Asia's first Nobel Laureate winning for Literature in 1913). Indeed, there is a widely repeated anecdote that when Einstein met Tagore (possibly in 1930) and asked "How is that bright young man Bose?" Tagore was perplexed since the Bose that he did know (the famous physicist Jagadish Chandra Bose) was far from being a young man at that time. He is said to have asked his secretary, PC Mahalanobis, about this Bose, and Mahalanobis was said to have proclaimed, "Oh, he means Satyen Bose!"

Tagore was intrigued, and said that he would like to meet this Satyen. Mahalanobis facilitated an introduction that lead to an ongoing relationship till Tagore's death in 1941. Bose's mother was said to have said with pride that "it was Albert Einstein who told Gurudev about my son, and Gurudev himself asked to meet him..."

The relationship between Bose and Tagore blossomed around a mutually held passion of teaching science (and literature) in the "mother-tongue" of Bengali. Indeed, one of Tagore's last works was Viswa-Parichay [বিশ্ব-পরিচয়] (Our Universe 1937, translated by Indra Dutta 1958), a science primer written in Bengali, which he dedicated to Bose. Many years later, Bose went on to be appointed Vice-Chancellor of Tagore's university, Viswabharati (Santiniketan) in 1957.

But that's another story...

23 January 2007

"From the human point of view, Bose was the best of them all..."

About a year ago, Professor Kameshwar Wali published a nice article on Bose and Einstein in the Fall 2005 History of Physics Newsletter published by the American Physical Society. Professor Wali reviews of the history of Bose's fundamental contribution and highlights Bose's impact. He also touches upon Bose's relationship with Einstein.
To appreciate Bose’s accomplishment and Einstein’s own realization of its importance and its extension to ordinary matter, one needs to take a look at the struggle over several decades to unravel the true nature of blackbody radiation, that ultimately would lead to one of the two fundamental (Bose-Einstein) statistics based on the New Quantum Mechanics, the other being the Fermi-Dirac Statistics.
Bose and Einstein (html version — scroll down to last article)
Bose and Einstein (full PDF version of History of Physics Newsletter.
Bose and Einstein is on page 9)
Professor Wali is Emeritus and Research Professor at the Department of Physics at Syracuse University and Fellow American Physical Society. He is known for his well-received biography of physicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar titled Chandra: A Biography of S. Chandrasekhar (University of Chicago Press, 1992). Chandrasekhar won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1983 for his work on the currently accepted theory on the later evolutionary stages of massive stars.

As an interesting historical side note, Chandrasekhar knew S.N. Bose during his time in Calcutta. His uncle, C.V. Raman and Bose were at Calcutta University at the same time in the early part of the century. Raman also won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1930 for his work on the scattering of light and for the discovery of what is known as the Raman Effect.

In an interview with Chandrasekhar published in Chandra, Chandrasekhar is quoted as saying:
Chandrasekhar: Satyen Bose was one person who, when Raman made the discovery [of the Raman Effect], did not associate himself with the others by belittling it. I think you have noted my recollection of Raman telling me what Bose had said to him after seeing the spectra, "Professor Raman, you have made a great discovery. It will be called the Raman Effect, and you will get the Nobel Prize." Bose in some ways, from the human point of view, was the best of them all. He was very generous, gentle, easygoing, and not particularly caring about the glamorous aspects of science. (p. 250)

21 January 2007

Bose-Einstein Condensate runs circles around magnetic trap

From PhysOrg.com [first published: September 07, 2005]

Physicists at the University of California, Berkeley, have the universe's coldest substance running in circles.

The UC Berkeley team has created a Bose-Einstein condensate of rubidium atoms and nudged it into a circular racetrack 2 millimeters across, creating a particle storage ring analogous to the accelerator storage rings of high energy physics. This ring, the first to contain a Bose-Einstein gas, is full of cold particles at a temperature of only one-millionth of a degree above absolute zero, travelling with energies a billion trillion times less than the particles in a high-energy storage ring.

Full article after the jump...
[Image]: This 180-millisecond time-lapse movie shows a Bose-Einstein condensate circling in a magnetic trap as the blob of supercold gas spreads out into a beam.
— Deep Gupta / UC Berkeley

14 January 2007

Falguni Meets Nobel Laureates

I had the pleasure of meeting Drs. Wieman and Cornell during a visit to the University of Colorado at Boulder on July 11, 2006. Below is text that appeared on a local Boulder newspaper:

A grandson of famed mathematician and scientist Satyendra Nath Bose, who prompted Albert Einstein's 1924 prediction of Bose-Einstein condensate, met with the Nobel Prize-winning physicists who created the condensate on July 11. Falguni Sarkar, 40, of San Francisco (center) met with Carl Wieman (right) and Eric Cornell (left) at JILA, a joint institute located on the CU Boulder campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Sarkar is writing about his grandfather. Wieman is a distinguished professor in the CU-Boulder department of physics and Cornell is a senior scientist at NIST and an adjoint professor of physics at CU Boulder. The two JILA fellows led a team of physicists that created the condensate, a new form of matter, at just billionths of a degree above absolute zero on June 5, 1995.

Next I'd like to meet Wolfgang Ketterle of MIT. Of the three, he's the one who continues to do work in the area of BEC.

7 January 2007

Bose Einstein Wins a Nobel Prize

While this is old news (2001), this post does provide some background on the significance of Bose Einstein Condensation in the world of Physics. This is copied from the Nobel Prize page on www.snbose.org. More information is directly available on the NobelPrize.org website. Bose Einstein Condensate is explained on Wikipedia.

The first Nobel Prize in Physics in the 21st Century was awarded jointly to Professor Eric Cornell and Professor Carl Wieman of JILA and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Boulder, Colorado, USA, and Professor Wolfgang Ketterle of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, for the achievement of Bose-Einstein condensation in dilute gases of alkali atoms, and for early fundamental studies of the properties of the condensates.

Below are some links to information about the Nobel Prize, mostly from the NobelPrize.org website. All linked content (video, etc.) are copyright © Nobel Web AB 2001 and are presented here as hyperlinks.

Nobel Prize Interview:

Nobel Laureates in Physics interview with Drs. Cornell, Wieman and Ketterle with Joanna Rose, science writer on 12 December, 2001.

The Laureates talk about their memories of the day of the discovery, the importance of competition (5:51), the significance of producing the condensate (11:44), big issues in physics (15:01), receiving the Nobel Prize at an early age (21:49) and their future work (25:36).

Carl E. Wieman Nobel Lecture:
Bose-Einstein Condensation in a Dilute Gas; The First 70 Years and Some Recent Experiments (8 December 2001)

Eric A. Cornell Nobel Lecture:
Bose-Einstein Condensation in a Dilute Gas; The First 70 Years and Some Recent Experiments (8 December 2001)

Dr. Wolfgang Ketterle:
When Atoms Behave as Waves: Bose-Einstein Condensation and the Atom Laser

1 January 2007

S.N. Bose Blog Launched!

This WebLog (Blog) is launched in January 2007, 113 years after the birth of my grandfather, Professor S.N. Bose (1894-1974), fondly also remembered as Satyen Bose by many — best known as the founder of Bose Statistics (also often referred as Bose Einstein Statistics), a fundamental component of modern quantum theory and the basis of Bose Einstein Condensation.

A lot has happened in these 113 years, and a lot continues to happen especially in the frontiers of physics and science in general.

Over the next weeks and months we will document and discuss news on Bose Einstein, share stories of interest in the world of science, and periodically recount vignettes of my illustrious ancestor S.N. Bose, a remarkable figure who lived a colourful life which very few people know about. I hope that this blog will be informative, entertaining, and even a bit inspiring.

The SN Bose website has more information about S.N. Bose and the S.N. Bose Biography Project. Please visit www.snbose.org.