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ANTENTOP- 02- 2003, # 003

Jagadis Chandra Bose


Calcutta. Following the example of Lord Rayleigh, Jagadis Bose made extensive use of scientific demonstrations in class; he is reported as being extraordinarily popular and effective as a teacher. Many of his students at the Presidency College were destined to become famous in their own right - for example S.N. Bose, later to become well known for the Bose-Einstein statistics.


A book by Sir Oliver Lodge, "Heinrich Hertz and His Successors," impressed Bose. In 1894, J.C. Bose converted a small enclosure adjoining a bathroom in the Presidency College into a laboratory. He carried out experiments involving refraction, diffraction and polarization. To receive the radiation, he used a variety of different junctions connected to a highly sensitive galvanometer. He plotted in detail the voltage-current characteristics of his junctions, noting their non-linear characteristics. He developed the use of galena crystals for making receivers, both for short wavelength radio waves and for white and ultraviolet light. Patent rights for their use in detecting electromagnetic radiation were granted to him in 1904. In 1954 Pearson and Brattain [14] gave priority to Bose for the use of a semi-conducting crystal as a detector of radio waves. Sir Neville Mott, Nobel Laureate in 1977 for his own contributions to solid- state electronics, remarked [12] that "J.C. Bose was at least 60 years ahead of his time" and "In fact, he had anticipated the existence of P-type and N-type semiconductors."

In 1895 Bose gave his first public demonstration of electromagnetic waves, using them to ring a bell remotely and to explode some gunpowder. In 1896 the Daily Chronicle of England reported: "The inventor (J.C. Bose) has transmitted signals to a distance of nearly a mile and herein lies the first and obvious and exceedingly valuable application of this new theoretical marvel." Popov in Russia was doing similar experiments, but had written in December 1895 that he was still entertaining the hope of remote signalling with radio waves. The first successful wireless signalling experiment by Marconi on Salisbury Plain in England was not until May 1897. The 1895 public demonstration by Bose in Calcutta predates all these experiments. Invited by Lord Rayleigh, in 1897 Bose reported on his microwave (millimeter-wave) experiments to the Royal Institution and other societies in England [8]. The wavelengths he used ranged from 2.5 cm to 5 mm. In his presentation to the Royal Institution in January 1897 Bose speculated [see p.88 of ref.8] on the existence of electromagnetic radiation from the sun, suggesting that either the solar or the terrestrial atmosphere might be responsible for the lack of success so far in detecting such radiation - solar emission was not detected until 1942, and the 1.2 cm atmospheric water vapor absorption line was discovered during experimental radar work in 1944. Figure 1 shows J.C. Bose at the Royal Institution in London in January 1897; Figure 2 shows a matching diagram, with a brief description of the apparatus.



Figure 1. J.C. Bose at the Royal Institution, London, 1897. [13]

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