Every year, millions of students around the country enrol in India’s best engineering colleges and start their journey for scientific and academic excellence. In their journey, these aspiring engineers learn about the inspirational achievements and life-stories of India’s scientific leaders. Every engineer studying in a B Tech college in Gurgaon, Bangalore, Chennai, or any other city in the country, aims to pave his or her own path towards such inspirational success.

Among these inspirations, one of the most celebrated and influential stories is the life of India’s treasured scientists – Dr Homi J. Bhabha. Nowadays, the life and achievements of Dr. Homi Bhabha are already being introduced at school. And, when you get to explore the key details of Dr Bhabha’s life, you gain a major career-driven stimulus.

Rediscovering The Life of Great Dr Homi Bhabha

Most of us are familiar with who Dr Homi Bhabha was but we may know less about how the Indian physicist gained global recognition as the “Father of Indian Nuclear Program.” He was a pioneer nuclear physicist in India, who founded the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR). He also served as a director of TIFR after serving his tenure as a professor of physics.

Supported by the newly-formed and independent government of India, Bhabha laid the founding stone to the Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay. His role in establishing these two institutions contributed at a monumental scale towards the development of nuclear weapons in India.

One of the biggest reasons why engineers get inspired by Dr Homi Bhabha is that he was among the first Indians to be nominated for the prestigious Nobel Prize for Physics during the late 1950s. The country celebrated his contribution by awarding him the Adams Prize in 1942 and the Padma Bhushan in 1954.

The Scientific Feat of Dr. Homi Bhabha

Born on 30th October 1909, in the pre-independent India, Homi Jehangir Bhabha was raised in a prominent and wealthy Parsi family. His father, Jehangir Hormusji Bhabha, encouraged him towards scientific studies and supported his education from Bombay’s Cathedral and John Connon School to the Elphinstone College. The first scientific achievement of Dr Homi Bhabha was recorded at the mere age of 15 when he passed the Senior Cambridge University Examination with Honours.

Following this, Bhabha attended the Royal Institute of Science and eventually joined the Caius College of Cambridge University. After obtaining a mechanical engineering degree from Cambridge, Bhabha returned to India and became a metallurgist at the Tata Steel industry, Jamshedpur.

His scientific discoveries were driven by his relentless research in the field of mathematics and physics. He was an alumnus of the Cavendish Laboratory, which recorded several scientific breakthroughs, including the discovery of the neutron by James Chadwick and the high-energy proton transmissions by Ernest Walton and John Cockcroft. During his time, nuclear physics was a hot topic and an emerging field compared to theoretical physics.

Hence, Bhabha followed his passion for conducting particle experiments and generating large volumes of radiation to support his nuclear research studies.

Bhabha’s Achievements in Nuclear Physics

Here are the remarkable scientific discoveries made by Dr. Homi Bhabha in the field of nuclear physics:

  • Bhabha’s first scientific paper, called “The Absorption of Cosmic Radiation” explained how cosmic rays absorb radiation and produce electron showers
  • While working with Cambridge-alumni Niels Bohr, Bhabha published a paper that demonstrated the primary calculations of evaluating a cross-section of electron-positron scattering
  • His feat in electron-positron scattering was immensely recognized and the Royal Institute of Science dubbed this theory as “Bhabha Scattering”
  • In 1936, Bhabha collaborated with Walter Heitler on the scientific thesis of “The Passage of Fast Electrons and the Theory of Cosmic Showers”, which described the interaction of primary cosmic rays from outer space with Earth’s upper atmosphere which leads to the production of particles at the surface of the Earth.
  • Bhabha and Heitler also estimated the number of electrons produced in the cascade process for multiple electron initiation energies at different altitudes.
  • Bhabha’s research supported the experimental observations of cosmic ray showers made by scientists in the past
  • Bhabha was the only physicist to have successfully derived a direct experimental verification of Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity with the properties of particles.

With these scientific discoveries, Dr. Homi Bhabha empowered India as a global atomic power and successfully instrumented the use of uranium reserves for India’s first three-stage nuclear power program. After his untimely demise, the government of India paid tribute to Dr. Bhabha and renamed the Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay as the “Bhabha Atomic Research Center” on January 12, 1967, in his honour.