Satyendra Nath Bose
The Man who Counted Light
Thus began one of the most iconic correspondences in the history of modern physics. An unknown thirty year old mathematician working in the periphery of the British Empire at Dacca University (in what is now Dhaka, Bangladesh), sent the world famous Albert Einstein in Berlin Germany a letter. It was 1924, in the midst of revolutions in science and the birth of the quantum age in Europe.
Accompanying the letter was a short, four page paper titled Planck's Law and the Light-Quantum Hypothesis, and boldly asking the great scientist's opinion, and even more boldly asking Einstein to have it published in the leading scientific journal of the day Zeitschrift für Physik.
Bose had derived the famous Planck's constant using a completely novel approach, a new way of counting particles, address the question of whether light is a particle of a wave. It was this approach that Einstein found revolutionary, calling it a "beautiful step forward", and readily translated the paper himself and had it published, commenting that he would extend Bose's ideas himself.
Another revolution in quantum theory, in a time of great change and discovery. Einstein wrote three additional papers based on the new Bose Statistics (also referred to as Bose-Einstein Statistics). Amongst Einstein's predictions was if particles obeying Bose Statistics (later eponymously called Bosons) were cooled to a low enough temperature, the particles would form a new type of matter eventually called the Bose Einstein Condensation (BEC) phenomenon.
Seventy years later in 1995, scientists working at the University of Colorado, Boulder and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), using advanced laser technology, created BEC and validated Einstein's prediction based on Bose's work. For their efforts of finding what the New York Times called the Holy Grail of Physics, the scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2001.
Since the time of Bose's work, and Einstein's extensions, much work has been done using Bose's theory, and many scientists have been awarded honors, including numerous Nobel Prize awards.
Falguni Sarkar Interview on S.N. Bose and the Higgs Boson (BBC)
A Film by Subha Das Mollick
When a young Physics teacher from a fledgling university in a colonized nation received a postcard from Einstein in appreciation of his paper on black body radiation, it brought a sea change in the young man’s world and in the world of physics. Bose gave a theoretical foundation to Planck’s formula of black body radiation by applying Einstein’s light quantum hypothesis.
Later Einstein was critical of Bose’s statistical approach to matter energy interaction, but Bose remained unwavering in his reverence for Einstein. Dear Master traces this unique relationship in the history of science.
A Film by Raja Choudhury
In the early part of the 20th century and over 20 years before India’s independence, three remarkable Indian scientists revolutionized the worlds of Physics and Science. Satyendra Nath Bose, C.V.Raman and Meghnad Saha gave the world three remarkable discoveries and theories that would change Physics and India forever.
In this National Film Award (2014) winning film audiences will explore their individual biographies, their collective impact on the world of physics and their legacy in Indian science and world history.
South Asia Gallery
The paper by Bose was the fourth and last of the revolutionary papers of the old quantum theory (the other three being, respectively, Planck, Einstein and Bohr).
Abraham Pais, Subtle is the Lord