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J. C. Bose

AKA Jagadish Chandra Bose

Born: 30-Nov-1858
Birthplace: Mymensingh, Bangladesh
Died: 23-Nov-1937
Location of death: Giridih, India
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Cremated, ashes in family's possession

Gender: Male
Religion: Hindu
Race or Ethnicity: Asian/Indian
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Botanist, Physicist

Nationality: India
Executive summary: Plant physiology

Botanist and physicist Jagadish Chandra Bose was born in Mymensingh, India (now in Bangladesh), and studied under Lord Rayleigh at Cambridge, who considered him among his most brilliant students. With a recommendation from Rayleigh endorsed by higher-ups including the Viceroy of India and the Secretary of State for India, Bose was promptly posted as a professor at Presidency College in Calcutta, in 1885. He was the first Indian to hold that title, at what was then a colonial institution staffed by British teachers, but his appointment was strongly opposed by the school's British administrators. He was offered one-third the salary of the school's white professors, and in protest at this slight he took no salary at all for several years.

He remained at Presidency for his entire career, where he assembled the first modern scientific research facilities in Indian academia. He conducted landmark research of the response of plant and animal life to stimuli including electricity, light, sound, and touch, and showed how water and sap in plants and trees is elevated from roots due to capillary action. He invented the crescograph, an early oscillating recorder using clockwork gears to measure the growth and movements of plants in increments as small as 1/100,000 of an inch. His 1902 paper "Responses in the Living and Non-living" showed that plant and animal tissues share a similar electric-impulse response to all forms of stimulation, a finding which challenged conventional science of the time, and also showed that even inanimate objects — certain rocks and metals — have similar responses. In a 1907 paper Bose established the electrotransmission of excitation in plant and animal tissues, and showed that plants respond to sound, by growing more quickly in an environment of gentle speech or soft music, and growing more poorly when subjected to harsh speech or loud music.

Prior to his plant and animal experiments, Bose spent several years experimenting with electromagnetic waves, and conducted successful wireless signaling experiments in Calcutta in 1895. The invention of radio is usually credited to Guglielmo Marconi, but a comparison of their records suggests that at certain points of Bose's radio research he was about a year ahead of the Italian scientist. In Marconi's first wireless trans-oceanic transmission in 1901 a mercury autocoherer was a key component of the receiving device, and while Marconi made no acknowledgment of Bose at the time, subsequent research has shown that Marconi's autocoherer was a near-exact replica of a mechanism invented by Bose, who explained it in detail in a demonstration at the Royal Society of London two years earlier.

Bose was the first Indian scientist to be widely respected as an equal in the halls of western science. When he demonstrated his mechanisms for generating and detecting radio waves in a January 1897 lecture before the Royal Institution in London, it was the first such lecture given by an Indian. He was elevated to knighthood in 1917, and in 1920 he became the first Indian elected to membership in the prestigious Royal Society. Bose, who came from a fairly affluent family, had no particular interest in the profit potential of his work, and refused to file patent claims. A patent was filed by friends in Bose's name for his 1901 invention of a solid-state diode detector to detect electromagnetic waves.

He founded the Bose Research Institute in Calcutta in 1917, which continues to conduct scientific research. He was a contemporary and friend of the poet Rabindranath Tagore. His students included Satyendra Nath Bose (no relation), co-creator of the Bose-Einstein statistics. His father-in-law was Durga Mohan Das (1841-97), a well-known Indian activist for women's rights, and his brother-in-law was Ananda Mohan Bose (1847-1906), a prominent legal and religious leader in India.

Father: Bhagwan Chandra Bose (school headmaster)
Mother: Bamasundari Devi
Wife: Abala Das (medical student, b. 1864, m. 1887, d. 1951)

    High School: Hare School, Calcutta, India (briefly attended)
    High School: St. Xaviers Collegiate School, Calcutta, India (1874)
    University: BA, St. Xaviers College, Calcutta, India (1877)
    Medical School: BS Medicine, University of London (1884)
    University: BS Physics, Christ’s College, Cambridge University (1884)
    Professor: Physics, Presidency College, University of Calcutta (1885-1915)

    Order of the Indian Empire 1903 (Commander)
    Star of India 1912 (Companion)
    Knighthood 1917 (Knight Bachelor)
    Bose Research Institute 1917 (Founder)
    Royal Society 13-May-1920
    Indian Academy of Sciences 1934
    League of Nations Committee for Intellectual Cooperation (1926-30)
    Bengali-Bangladesh Ancestry
    Indian Ancestry

Author of books:
Plant Autographs and their Revelation (1915, non-fiction)
The Physiology of the Ascent of Sap (1923, non-fiction)
The Physiology of Photosynthesis (1924, non-fiction)
The Nervous Mechanism of Plants (1926, non-fiction)
Collected Physical Papers of Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose (1927, non-fiction)
Motor Mechanisms of Plants (1928, non-fiction)
Growth and Tropic Movements of Plants (1929, non-fiction)
Abyakta (The Unexpressed) (1929, poetry)
J. C. Bose Speaks (1986, essays; posthumous)


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