What did Einstein write to Satyen Bose?
On the first day of January this year the world woke up to usher in another year and Indians too, joined the fray. But we all forgot that the day also marked the 125th birth anniversary of an exceptionally brilliant mind, a scientist/ academician who was instrumental in making the West acknowledge the world-class talent pool that India had, in the sphere of science, despite meager resources available here in the early part of the 20th century.
Satyendranath Bose (S.N. Bose)was one of the world’s pioneering theoretical physicists, whose contributions to science as well as his thoughts on the society and cultureought to be highlighted more, because we need iconic figures from our own land for inspiration. Bose grew up during a time of turmoil – both in the history of the country, and in the sphere of his chosen field – physics. While the country was fighting for its freedom from the British, physics was undergoing a quantum revolution.In 1924, Bose published his paper titled Planck’s Law and Light Quantum Hypothesis. It signifies the birth of Bose-Quantum statistics, also known as ‘Bose-Einstein statistics.’
Einstein was highly impressed by the young physicist from Bengal. He wrote in a letter dated March 16, 1926: “The recent works of Mr S. N Bose, especially his theory of radiation equilibrium, signify in my opinion, an important and enduring progress of the physical theory. Also in personal discussion with Mr Bose, I have got the impression that he is a man of unusual gift and depth from whom science has much to expect.”
Once the famous scientist and applied statistician, Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis told poet Bishnu De that Satyendranath is a prodigy and there is no other Indian scientist to reach his level of intellect. But despite all the adulation, Satyendranath’s vast contribution to the world of modern science and his work on quantum mechanics remain eclipsed. Called the ‘Father of the God Particle’ for his work on the Boson, his name was sent for the prestigious Nobel Prize in 1956, but for some strange reason, it was rejected by members of the committee. Later many scientists whose research papers were based on Bose’s theory, were conferred the Nobel Prize!
However, Bose remained unaffected by these ‘petty’ recognitions and dedicated his life to science. A scientist of such stature preferred to work diligently, far from the glare of the arclights. Is that the reason Bengalis also chose to look the other way and hardly remembered him on his birthday? However, the state government has organised a two-day seminar on March 24 and 25 at Science City auditorium to commemorate Bose’s 125th birth anniversary.