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DM Bose His Scientific Work in International context



It is a Review of book authored by a well known Historian of Science, Rajinder Singh of Oldenburg University, Germany. The book is titled: "D. M. Bose – His Scientific Work in International Context". DM Bose was a promising Physicist of India whose contribution to Science in India had remained neglected.
CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 111, NO. 10 , 25 NOVEMBER 2016 1707
mention here. In the chapter dealing with
resonance, semi-classical approaches are
invoked to discuss a wide set of reso-
nance phenomena, including NMR. In
dealing wit h interactions, in the next
chapter, the dipole approximation is in-
voked and then used to describe dipole
transitions and the origin of the selection
rules governing such transitions. An ex-
tension of this treatment is found in a
discussion on transition rate calculations
for laser excitation, normally not found
in similar treatises. Subsequent chapters
on multi-photon processes and coherence
engage with applications of lasers in the
control of atomic state populati ons –
useful short treatments such as coherent
populati on trapping that has applications
in atomic clocks, and electromagnetically
induced transparency, that have led to
applications in slowing down light, or
inversionless lasing, can be found here.
The last chapters on Spectroscopy’
and ‘Cooling and Trapping’, are a literal
tour de force of the research preoccupa-
tions of the author in his laboratory that
more or less encompass a wide range of
‘hot’ topics. Covering some aspects of
tools invaluable in a modern atomic
physics research laboratory such as diode
laser, and lock-in amplifiers, he moves
on to a succinct treatment of Doppler-
free spectroscopy. The basics of laser
cooling and trapping, extended to reali-
zation of Bose–Einstein condensates are
summarized here. Dipole traps and their
analogous application in trapping larger
microscopic objects in optical tweezers,
also find a place here.
The Appendices make for thought-
provoking and interesti ng extras, with
ideas about the concept of the photon b e-
ing one of ‘philosophical’ contemplation
for the author. In this discussion of the
concept of the photon, he presents ideas
mainly from Taylor and Feynman, that a
photon has no independent existence but
rather one can conceive this through in-
voking both advanced and retarded
fields. This concept is shown to have
profound implications to the cause–
effect relationship as perceived in classi-
cal formalisms. The other chapter is on
Einstein’s formulation of atom–radiation
interaction through the A and B coeffi-
cients, with Einstein solving the puzzle
like a detective. The pieces in the ‘jigsaw
puzzle’ have but one crucial piece’,
namely the concept of stimulated emis-
sion missing to make for a coherent (pun
intended) picture. Einstein is an arm-
chair detective, the author argues, who
through the brilliance of his gedanken
(thought) experiments solves the puzzle,
Sherlock Holmes’ style. While such a
reading of the history of discovery is in-
teresting, the allegorical nature of this
reading needs a mention lest it obfus-
cates the more complex process in the
history of ideas, with many pitfalls and
mistakes made, notwithstanding the gen-
ius intellect of an Einstein. Other chap-
ters that form the Appendix include a
discussion on conceiving the photon’s
interaction with gravity as in the gravita-
tional red shift, and a simple discussion
of the frequency comb technique that en-
abled ultra high precision measurements
fetching Hall and Hansch the 2005 Phys-
ics Nobel Prize.
Problem sets with meticulously worked-
out solutions that extend the ideas in
chapters or bring in a particular concept
not treated explicitly are introduced in
adequate measure. As the author states in
the preface, one of the reasons for this
book was to share the elaborate notes
that he made as a student in MIT, USA
attending the course of an eminent spec-
troscopist. This is done well, although
surely, other texts and papers in the su b-
ject were consulted in the process. An
omission here is the l ack of reference
lists anywhere, perhaps left out to re-
strain the book’s girth from exceeding its
already sizeable number of pages.
Finally, the book is well-written and
bears a distinctive style of communica-
tion that is informal without sacrificing
rigour. It is invaluable as an advanced
postgraduate or Ph D-level textbook, and
will doubtless be used in many courses
across the world as it brings under one
platform the many exciting and current
topics of resear ch in atomic and laser
spectroscopy, that one often has to ac-
cess through information scattered in dif-
ferent texts and references.
Department of Physics,
Bangalore University,
Bengaluru 560 056, India
D. M. Bose – His Scienti fic Work in
Internati onal Context. Rajinder Singh.
Shaker Verlag, Aachen, Germany. 2016.
260 pp. Price: 21.90 Euro.
In the preface of this book, Rajinder
Singh, the author and a well-established
historian of science has given reasons for
writing this book. S. C. Roy in his fore-
word reinforces the argument of the
author by his remarks: ‘In spite of his
immense contributions to science, admi-
nistration, education and many other
areas like history of science, D. M. Bose
is relatively unknown to many compared
to his contemporaries. His scientific ac-
tivities have been discussed sporadically,
but have never been explored in totality.
The idea of a book on D. M. Bose was
proposed in 2010 during the 125th birth
anniversary of Dr D. M. Bose when
Rajinder Singh contributed a Cover Arti-
cle in the journal Science and Culture of
which I am the Editor-in-Chief’.
D. M. Bose was a reputed scientist at
par with his colleagues and contempo-
rary scientists like C. V. Raman, S. K.
Mitra, M. N. Saha and S. N. Bose. His
scientific contributi ons were of utmost
significance internationally in the con-
temporary science of his time. His work
on magnetism and discovery of artificial
transmutation using cloud chamber while
he was abroad, and his cosmic ray work
in India with Biva Chaudhuri in discov-
ering mu-mesons using half-tone Ilford
plates are legendary. He was Director of
J. C. Bose Institute founded by his uncle
J. C. Bose, and tried expanding on his
uncle’s work to understand the physio-
logical investigations in plants at a mole-
cular level using biochemistry. This book
presents the real worth of Bose in inter-
national context to justify its title. An-
other aspect revealed by the aut hor is
CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 111, NO. 10 , 25 NOVEMBER 2016 1708
significance of scientific contributions of
Bose, which are at par in excellence with
his contemporaries both in India and
The biographical facts given by the
author show the brilliant career of Bose
who went to Cambridge in 1907. He
worked for some time with J. J. Thomson
and C. T. R. Wilson at the Cavendish
Laboratory and saw the development of
the Wilson cloud chamber and the use of
this technique of photographing the
tracks of ionizing particles. In 1912, he
obtained Diploma and B Sc (first class)
in Physics from the Royal College of
Science, London. On return to India, he
was appointed Rashbehary Ghosh Pro-
fessor of Physics, University of Calcutta
in 1914. Soon after, he went to Germany
to work on cosmic rays and radioactivity
under E. Regener in Berlin. His Ph D
thesis examiners were the famous
German scientists, Max Planck and
H. Rubens. Rajinder Singh has tracked
down many interesting documents and
the testimonial of Bose from the archives
of Humboldt University, Berlin to estab-
lish many unknown facts about the scien-
Bose modified the Wilson cloud
chamber and studied the tracks of
- and
H-particles usi ng a polonium source
wrapped in aluminium foil. The results
obtained were in agreement with the
Rutherford–Darwin theory of
ion. He studied
-particles using radio-
active lead sour ce. Bose proved that a
-particle can be made visible by
ionization tracks in cloud chamber. He
was the first person, who intr oduced the
Wilson cloud chamber method in India
and in cooperation with S. K. Ghosh
studied the ionization tracks of the rest
atoms of the radioactive elements. The
results were shared with Rutherford in
Cambridge, who accepted the interpreta-
tion of Bose and Ghosh.
The second chapter of the book deals
with Bose theory of paramagnetism and
discovery of a new photomagnet ic effect
(Bose effect). In the 1920s and 1930s, he
was an authority in the field of magnet-
ism. His status amongst the international
scientific community can be judged from
the fact that in 1929, Bose was asked by
the Nobel Committee to send a pr oposal
for the Nobel Prize as a nominator, a rare
honour for an Indian scientist. The
Welo–Bose rule ‘that the magnetic
moment of a complex i s the same as that
of the atom with the same number of
electrons as the central atom of the com-
plex, counting two for each electron pair
binding the central atom to the co-
ordinated units’, was a landmark discov-
ery of Bose. In the late 1960s, in the
world of solid-state physics, ‘photomag-
netic effect’ gained currency and reap-
peared in the scientific literature. ‘The
photomagnetic effect is the effect in
which a material acquires its ferromag-
netic properties in response to light.’ At
the Como Conference, Bose presented a
paper entitled ‘On the magnetic moments
of ions of the transitional group of ele-
ments’. He was influenced by Albert
Einstein during his Berli n days as was S.
N. Bose during his visit to Germany. It is
unfortunate that S. N. Bose was eulo-
gized much more in India in comparison
to D. M. Bose, who was a versatile ex-
perimentalist and designed his own appa-
ratus for research investigations.
The third chapter is devoted to cosmic
ray research at the Bose Institute. D. M.
Bose was a pioneer in cosmic ray r e-
search in India. Bose and Biva Chaud-
huri were the first to identify mu-meson
tracks from the cosmic ray stars. Using
the Blau–Wambacher techni que, they
observed the ‘double tracks’ and 5 and
12 prong multiple stars. Bose and Chaud-
huri were indeed the first scientists who
observed the meson t rack in photo-
graphic plates and measured the mass of
this cosmic particle for the first time long
before C. F. Powell and the measured
mass (~200 me) is quite close to the
accepted value (~216 me). So there ar e
enough reasons to indicate that Bose and
Chaudhuri missed the opportunity to get
the Nobel Prize for their Mu-meson dis-
The fourth chapter discusses the bio-
logical researches of D. M. Bose follow-
ing the footsteps of his uncle, J. C. Bose,
who in his investigations on plant re-
sponses postulated that irritability, con-
ductivity, contractility and rhythmicity
are common to all living tissues. How-
ever, his theories on plant physiology
were highly disputed. D. M. Bose’s con-
tribution in biological sciences can be
broadly classified in three categories: (i)
development of biological sciences in
Bose Institute and also in India; (ii) to
interpret life processes in terms of physi-
cal and chemical pri nciples to find an
unifying concept and (iii) his contribu-
tion along with his co-workers in the
field of plant motility and biology of
plant responses. D. M. Bose was also
critical of his uncle’s theories. He dis-
cussed the prevailing theories of bioelec-
tric potential in plant cells, stimulation/
excitation pr ocesses in plants and ani-
mals; response of plants under artificial
and natural conditions and inorganic
models of response. Thus, D. M. Bose
not only provided a fillip to researches of
J. C. Bose, but also became the first bio-
physicist in Indi a to start an inter-
disciplinary field of research as a role
model for other Indian scientists.
The last chapter of the book is focused
on Bose as Nobel Prize nominator and
his invitation to the Como Conference.
Rajinder Singh has tried to decode the
mystification surrounding the contr o-
versy around the invitation letter. An-
other feature of this chapter which
demands appreciation of the author is the
discussion about the national status of
both Boses, S.N. and D.M. during 1920s.
His conclusion goes in favour of D.M.
Bose who was selected Professor in
Dacca University, in preference to S. N.
Bose, who never did his Ph D. D. M.
Bose was not nominated for the Nobel
Prize during 1949 and 1950, and Powell
got it for the discovery of pi-mesons in
1950. However, D. M. Bose became a
nominator for the Nobel Prize in 1929,
and he and S. K. Mitra both nominated
M. N. Saha for the 1930 Nobel Prize, ig-
noring C. V. Raman, who won it with
support of 10 distinguished nominators
from outside India.
At the end, the author has given an
exhaustive bibliography and list of pub-
lications of D. M. Bose, who published
58 research papers on diverse topics in
international journals of repute. Bose
wrote two books, one of these under the
title A Concise History of Science in
India. He also wrote many articles of
national interest, obituary notes, book
reviews, and popular science articles for
Science & Culture during his di rector-
ship of Bose Institute. I appreciate the
efforts made by Rajinder Singh in bring-
ing out this volume on D. M. Bose to put
him on a high pedestal, both in Indian
and international context, which he
richly deserves.
SGGS World University,
Fatehgarh Sahib 140 406, India
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