Homi Jehangir Bhabha, popularly known as the father of Indian Nuclear Programme was a famous nuclear physicist. He was the founding director of two renowned research institutes- Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). He was born to a rich Parsi family on October 30, 1909. He was bestowed with many honorary degrees and awards from many prestigious universities. He is known for his articles on quantum theory and cosmic rays.
Homi Bhabha graduated from Elphinstone College. He then attended the Royal Institute of Science until 1927 before joining Cambridge University. In 1933, he received his doctorate in nuclear physics with his paper ‘The Absorption of Cosmic Radiation’, winning him the Isaac Newton Studentship in 1934. Today is the death anniversary of the Homi Jehangir Bhabha. To commemorate the same here are some lesser known and interesting facts about him:
- Many do not know that as a student Homi worked with a Nobel Prize winner. Yes, he worked with Niels Bohr in Copenhagen.
- He donned many hats. He represented India at many conferences like Internation Atomic Energy Agency among others. He was also appointed as President of UN conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy.
- He was also offered a post in Indian cabinet back then. However, he rejected the same and instead acted as adviser (scientific) to former Prime ministers of India- Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri.
- He received many awards. Bhabha was felicitated with Padma Bhushan (1954), Adams Prize (1942) and Fellow of the Royal Society.
- Exactly fourteen days before Bhabha’s death, former PM of India, Lal Bahadur Shastri died a mystifying death in Tashkent.
- He was instrumental in finding out how India can extract power from its thorium reserves instead of uranium reserves which were less in quantity. This approach was new for all.
- He was the one who identified and named the Meson particle. He also worked with one of the German Physicists to develop the Cascade theory to understand cosmic radiations.
- He was not a typical scientist. He loved paintings, classical music, and opera among others. He used to live in a huge colonial bungalow in Malabar Hills. It was named as Mehrangir.
On January 24, 1996, he died in a mysterious air crash near Mount Blanc. Some theories claim that he was killed by CIA to paralyze India’s nuclear programme. He was on his way to Vienna for a meet of Scientific Advisory committee. After his death, his brother was the custodian of his property and he gave away all his paintings, artifacts and furniture to the NCPA. Later the property of value over Rs 257 crore was sold off to the Godrej family for Rs 372 crores in 2014 by the NCPA.