Homi Jehangir Bhabha, known as the father of the Indian nuclear programme, was born on October 30, 1909, in Bombay. He founded the country’s top nuclear research institutes, including the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).
On his birth anniversary, here are some facts about the legendary physicist.
1. He belonged to an aristocratic family and as the son of a barrister he grew up in an environment where education held great importance.
2. Bhabha passed the Senior Cambridge Examination at the age of 16 and went to Cambridge to attain a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Gonvile and Caius College.
3. Abiding by the wishes of his family, Bhabha started studying engineering but was quickly drawn to physics. “I seriously say to you that business or job as an engineer is not the thing for me,” wrote Bhabha in 1932, as per Atomic Heritage Foundation.
“It is totally foreign to my nature and radically opposed to my temperament and opinions. Physics is my line. I know I shall do great things here.” Bhabha earned a Ph.D. in nuclear physics in 1934.
4. He returned to India before World War II to join the Indian Institute of Science (IISC) in Bengaluru, where he founded the Cosmic Ray Research Institute.
5. In 1945, he founded the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), where initial research for India’s nuclear programme began.
6. After India gained Independence in 1947, Bhabha wrote to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, arguing that “within the next couple of decades, atomic energy would play an important part in the economy and the industry of countries and that, if India did not wish to fall even further behind industrially advanced countries of the world, it would be necessary to develop this branch of science”.
7. In 1954, Bhabha founded a nuclear research center at Trombay which was later renamed the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). A strong proponent of nuclear energy, he organized the first UN Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in 1955.
8. Bhabha was the head of India’s nuclear programme until his death in a plane crash on the way to Geneva on January 24, 1966.