Science is the basis for anything and everything that exists. It has answers to every question that arises out of curiosity. And for the answers that still don’t exist, they will soon be discovered by a brilliant scientist who is sitting in the corner of his room or laboratory, dedicating his entire life to finding the right one. India has produced some of the greatest scientists of the world who have contributed in various fields. Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent scientists of India who have been depicted on stamps.
Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam
The Missile Man of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has been one of India’s most loved scientists who has not only contributed through his scientific research but has also helped in inspiring a million young minds. Born on 15th October 1931 in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu, Kalam pursued his academics in physics and aerospace engineering. Even after being raised by a middle-class boat owner, he never gave up and kept on dedicatedly working towards his goal. For the next 40 years, he served as a scientist and science administrator at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). He contributed majorly in India’s civilian space programme and military missile development efforts like the ballistic missile and launch vehicle technology. He was played a major role in Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998. India post issued a lovely 5 Rupees Stamp featuring one of the greatest scientists of India.
Dr. Vikram Sarabhai
Fondly remembered as the father of India’s space programme, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, founded the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) in 1947 initially at his residence where he started with his research on cosmic rays. It was later renamed as M.G. Science Institute, Ahmedabad, on 11th November 1947. The first focus was research on cosmic rays and the properties of the upper atmosphere, which then extended to theoretical physics and radio physics later with donations from the Atomic Energy Commission. Today PRL powers the PLANEX or the planetary science and exploration programme. In 1960’s, he established The Vikram A. Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCSC), to make science and mathematics popular among students, teachers and the public. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was one of his greatest gifts to India. He believed that even though India is not at par with the economically well-to-do nations, it is very important to be noticed globally in the application of advanced technologies. One of these revolutionary scientists of India appeared on a 20 paise commemorative stamp that was issued in 1972.
Dr. C.V. Raman
Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman is known all over the world for light scattering or Raman scattering, which got him the 1930 Nobel Prize in Physics. His discovery is also a solid proof for the quantum nature of light. He discovered that when light traverses a transparent material, it deflects and changes in wavelength. Born in Madras Presidency, he cleared his 10th Grade when he was 11 years old and he passed his 12th with a scholarship at the age of 13. In 1917, he was assigned as the Palit Professor of Physics at the University of Calcutta. He also did his research simultaneously at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS), Calcutta, where he became the Honorary Secretary. On 28th February 1928, his experiments at the IACS with collaborators led to the famous Raman effect. He was the first Asian and first non-white to receive any Nobel Prize in the sciences. Based on superposition velocities, he derived the theory of transverse vibration of bowed strings. He investigated the propagation of sound as well. Modulators and switching systems based on the Raman–Nath theory which studies acousto-optic effect or light scattering by sound waves is also a path-breaking discovery. He studied diffraction of light by acoustic waves of ultrasonic and hypersonic frequencies, and those on the effects produced by X-rays on infrared vibrations in crystals exposed to ordinary light. His studies also contributed immensely to crystal dynamics. C.V. Raman, one of the greatest scientists of India was depicted on a 1971 20 paise stamp. He was also the first National Professor appointed by the new government of Independent India.
Dr. Homi Bhabha
The father of the Indian nuclear programme, Homi Jehangir Bhabha was the founder and professor of physics at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the Trombay Atomic Energy Establishment, the biggest institutions for Indian development of nuclear weapons. He did his Mechanical engineering from Cambridge and then returned to India and joined the Tata Steel Mills in Jamshedpur as a metallurgist. Conducting experiments on particles which also released a tremendous amount of radiation was his passion. He published his paper named “The Absorption of Cosmic radiation” in January 1933 for which he received his doctorate in nuclear physics. He explained the absorption features and electron shower production in cosmic rays. He determined the cross section of electron-positron scattering which was later named Bhabha scattering. He collaborated with scientists to discover how primary cosmic rays from outer space interact with the upper atmosphere to produce particles observed at the ground level. His observations clearly verified Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. In 1937, Bhabha was awarded the Senior Studentship of the 1851 exhibition. He continued his research in Cambridge until World War II in 1939. He returned to India In September 1939 for a holiday and then never returned back. He kept researching and held many important positions during his illustrous his career in India. A special commemorative stamp was issued in 1966 featuring one of the greatest scientists of India.
Srinivasa Ramanujan was one of India’s greatest mathematician and autodidact who had no formal training in pure mathematics but made impressive contributions to mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and continued fractions. He slowly became well known and very soon began a partnership with the English mathematician G. H. Hardy. Ramanujan had produced new theorems and rediscovered known ones. He compiled nearly 3,900 results, almost all of which were verified to be correct. His unconventional Ramanujan prime and the Ramanujan theta function, have inspired many mathematicians to continue their research. Ramanujan associated his mathematical abilities to divinity. Though his name cannot be included in the list of scientists of India, his contributions in mathematics is tremendous. A 15 naya paisa stamp featuring this great mathematician was issued in 1962.
There are several other scientists of India who have been depicted on Indian stamps. We will soon come back with another post. Stay tuned!