Satyendra Nath Bose, also known as S.N Bose, is a contemporary of Einstein, is best known for his work on quantum physics in 1920. The physicist specialized in mathematical physics which was then in its infancy. He worked with Einstein and their work lead to the concept of Bose-Einstein statistics in particle physics and later a theory –the Bose Einstein condensate- about a fifth state of matter( a super fluid). His work and theory was validated by experiments conducted by later scientists.
The’ boson’ a category of subatomic particles is named after Bose as it is his work that opened the door to the discovery of the bosons- a class of subatomic particles that are carriers of force. All the subatomic particles have been discovered. The most elusive of bosons- the Higgs boson or the God particle is on the threshold of discovery, a last missing link in the standard model theory of Physics.
Early Life of S.N Bose
Satyendra Nath Bose was born on January 1, 1894 in Kolkata, West Bengal
in undivided British India. His father Surendranath worked with the East Indian Railway Company. Satyendra Nath, the only son, was the eldest among seven siblings. Satyendra Nath was married at twenty to Ushabati.
The precocious Satyendra studied at the Hindu High School in Kolkata and passed the matric exam in 1909, standing fifth in the merit. He then enrolled for a BSc in the Presidency College Kolkata. Future Indian science stalwarts such as Meghnad Saha, P C Mahanalobis, and Sisir Kumar Mitra were his contemporaries, and Jagdish Chandra Bose and Prafulla Chandra Ray were his illustrious teachers.
S N Bose stood first in the University in BSc (1913) and MSc (1915). This was a record in the history of the university.
The polyglot S N Bose was fluent in Sanskrit, English, French and German.
In 1916, after completing his MSc, S N Bose joined the University of Calcutta as a Lecturer. He worked here till 1921. During this time, he wrote to Einstein asking permission to translate his work on relativity in English; Einstein accede the request. Bose translated this seminal work in English and the book was published.
In 1921, S N Bose joined as Reader, the newly formed Dhaka University, now in Bangladesh. He set up whole departments here, lectured and taught courses. It was while working here that he encountered a strange quibble while conducting an experiment. S N Bose wrote a paper on his findings and corresponded with Einstein again. He sent him his paper with a request to translate it. Einstein recognized the importance of the paper, translated and submitted it for publication in scientific journals under Bose’s name. Furthermore, as a result of this international recognition, S N Bose got a chance to work in Europe with Einstein. His work with Einstein lead to the seminal work in quantum statistics and particle theory and paved the way for later discoveries in the field.
Return to India
S N Bose returned to Dhaka University in 1926 and was made the head of the Department of Physics. He continued researching, teaching, and publishing scientific papers. Eventually he was made the Dean and remained so till 1945.
After the partition of India, S N Bose returned to Calcutta University, and taught here till 1956. He was made Professor Emeritus on retirement and became the Vice Chancellor of Viswa Bharati University in Shantiniketan.
S N Bose continued researching in the fields of nuclear physics and organic chemistry. Although many scientists who have since then worked on research related to concepts of the Bose-Einstein statistics have gone on to win the Nobel Prize, SN Bose himself did not win it.
He was honored by the Indian Government in 1954 and awarded the Padma Vibhushan. In 1958, he became a fellow of the Royal Society of London. In 1959 the Indian Government appointed him the National Professor, the highest honor for a scientist. He was an advisor to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and the elected President of the Indian Science Congress.
SN Bose passed away in 1974. The S N Bose National Center for Basic Science is named after him.