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Birth Anniversary of CV Raman, Still the Only Indian Scientist with a Nobel Prize in Physics

Born on November 7, 1888, CV Raman became the first Indian to win the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930.

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Niloy Chattaraj
Niloy Chattaraj
Niloy Chattaraj holds a postgraduate Diploma in Cosmology from CalTech and is a double gold medalist engineer. Niloy is the scientist who pointed out Hawking’s flaws in the Black Hole theory. Besides being in the advisory board, he is a senior journalist and creative director who covers social issues, science, and Indian history.

INDIA. November 7 marks the 133rd birth anniversary of Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, more popularly known as CV Raman. CV Raman was the first Asian to get the Nobel Prize in Science for his Raman Effect. Vice president M. Venkaiah Naidu paid a tribute to Nobel laureate CV Raman on his birth anniversary.

On the birth anniversary of the great physicist and Nobel laureate Sir CV Raman, I bow to his inspiration for the promotion of scientific research and education in the country. I salute his contribution in establishing prestigious scientific institutions.” tweeted Vice President Naidu.

Who was CV Raman

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Born at Tiruchirappalli in Southern India on November 7th, 1888, sir CV Raman was a man of extraordinary ability. His father was a lecturer in mathematics and physics, so he grew immersed in the academic atmosphere. CV Raman passed the tenth standard when he was 11 years old. At age 15, he earned a gold medal undergraduate degree in physics. When 19, he obtained a master’s degree with the highest distinctions.

He started researching in optics and acoustics while he was a student, and late on also pursued the optics of colloids, electrical and magnetic anisotropy, and the physiology of human vision.

Sir C V Raman with his classmates. Pic courtesy: Raman Research Institute
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Working in the Indian Finance Department, he maintained his science research as a hobby. In 1917, he was offered the Palit Chair of Physics at Calcutta University. In 1919, he became the secretary of the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science at Calcutta. In 1926, he became the founding editor of the Indian Journal of Physics. Raman sponsored the establishment of the Indian Academy of Sciences and has served as President since its inception. In 1933, he became Professor at the Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore, and since 1948 — the Director of the Raman Institute of Research at Bangalore, established and endowed by himself.

Read Also: An Ode to The First Indian Scientist and Nobel Prize Winner Sir C.V. Raman

Nobel Prize in Physics 1930

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Some of Raman’s early memoirs appeared as Bulletins of the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science. In 1922 he published the “Molecular Diffraction of Light” that led to his discovery of the radiation effect which bears his name (“A new radiation”, Indian J. Phys., 2 (1928) 387). This discovery gained him the 1930 Nobel Prize in Physics.

We must teach science in the mother tongue. Otherwise, science will become a highbrow activity. It will not be an activity in which all people can participate,” CV Raman.

The Raman effect is the change in the wavelength of light as it gets deflected by a molecule while passing through a chemical compound. It is the Raman effect of light that causes the sky’s appearance to be blue.

Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman with other scientists who received the Nobel Prize in 1930 | Picture credits: Wikimedia Common

Russian, in a Tamil accent 

In April 1958, the Nobel laureate had just been conferred the first Lenin Peace Prize for “outstanding services in the struggle for preservation and conservation of peace”. S. Narayan was a young metallurgist teaching at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore at the time and knew Russian enough, so CV Raman approached him as he needed lessons.

S Narayan, a 27-year-old metallurgist with Nobel laureate CV Raman, 1958

When in the USSR to receive the Lenin award, CV Raman addressed the Russian Academy of Sciences in Russian.

Read Also: An Ode to The First Indian Scientist and Nobel Prize Winner Sir C.V. Raman

In her biography of Raman, writer Uma Parameswaran notes that “after thanking the presenters for recognizing India as a sincere champion of peace, he went on to say that he regretted that advancements in physics were being used to manufacture weapons of destruction. He went on to say that Japan had experienced the power of this weapon… but those who created the weapon failed to take note of the fact that other countries too could develop this weapon and that they themselves could fall victims to similar or more terrible trials.”

The Panchavati in the middle of Malleswaram | RRI Trust

The scientist and his legacy

Watch “The scientist and his legacy” to know more about who CV Raman was and what is his legacy. The video opens with the words, “My life has been an utter failure. I was the first Asian to bring home the Nobel Prize in the scientific field. I thought I would build true sense in our country. All we have now is a legion of camp followers [of] the West. There can be no salvation, no real advance at this rate.

Mars & Beyond – C V Raman: The scientist and his legacy

Reference: Singh Dr, Rajinder. (2002). C. V. Raman and the Discovery of the Raman Effect. Physics in Perspective. 4. 399-420. 10.1007/s000160200002. Researchgate.

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  • Niloy Chattaraj

    Niloy Chattaraj holds a postgraduate Diploma in Cosmology from CalTech and is a double gold medalist engineer. Niloy is the scientist who pointed out Hawking’s flaws in the Black Hole theory. Besides being in the advisory board, he is a senior journalist and creative director who covers social issues, science, and Indian history.

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