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C. V. Raman : A Legend in Indian Science Research
Posted Date: 12-Jan-2012
Sir Chandrashekara Ventakata Raman was an Indian scientist who is known all over the world for his work on the diffraction of light by water molecules. He was person of strong will power and desire as he came through many obstacles to succeed in his life. He is a real inspiration to all young minds and his simple lifestyles surprises people even more. Read on to find out some interesting information about this Indian Prodigy who was a leading scientist of his era.
chandrasheekara Venkata Raman
was an Indian Prodigy who was a physicist and a scientist. He was a very practical man and had immense knowledge in the field of Physics and Optics. He was one of the leading scientists of his time and was
the first non-white to receive any Nobel Prize in Science
. This simply shows that nothing is impossible. Read on to find out How a poor man won the Nobel Prize for Physics with a total cost of a mere RS. 200 only.
Birth and Early Childhood
C. V. Raman began his life journey in a village near Tiruchirapalli in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India. He was born on 8 November 1888. He was the second child of R. Chandrashekara Iyer and Parvathi Ammal. Raman was a child prodigy. The family moved to Vishakapatnam when he was four years of age. His father took up a lecturer's job in A. V. Narasimha Rao college. He taught math, physics and was a very athletic man. He was very active. But contrary to this, his son, Raman was not physically so strong and active. He was very intelligent which made up for the lack of activity. He preferred to read books and work on his studies instead of spending time in sports and other activities. This shows that Raman was very interested in studies from a very early stage itself. He was a very good reader and spent much time reading books from his father's collection which included original works of great scientists of that time. These books influenced him the most as he later discloses. He says that three books namely
Light of Asia by Edwin Arnold , The elements of Euclid and The Sensations of Tone by Helmholtz
influenced his the most and played a prominent role at various stages of his life. The prodigy that he was, he got through school at a tender age of eleven and joined the intermediate course at his father's college. He went to Madras at the age of thirteen to purse a BA degree at Presidency College of Madras. Here he was underestimated and was humiliated as he was too small and not physically strong and good in appearance. He silenced all of them by topping in the end term BA exams as he was a prodigy.
He was forced to take up the
Indian Civil Services Examination
by his teachers as they realized that he was very intelligent and could make it through even though not many non Britishers got through that exam. But Raman was declared unfit to travel abroad and hence could not give the exam. He was declared unfit by the Civil Surgeon of Madras and he later remarks on this incident that he would always be grateful to the surgeon as he wouldn't be where he is if not for this man who denied him the freedom to give the ICS examination. He then joins the Presidency College, Madras in the MA Physics section. The teachers here gave their students enough freedom and allowed them to be on their own. This was just what Raman had wanted as he liked to be free and do what ever he wanted. He used this time very efficiently and gobbled up much knowledge during these free hours. He later sarcastically comments that he only attened one MA class throughout the course in the college. This was also an important frame of time for the young prodigy. He showed his frist signs of Alternate line of thinking creatively at this very stage. Thus, he soon became the first one from the college ever to get a research paper published in the
, a British Journal. As expected, he passed out from the college coming first in the entire University.
Marriage and Early Scientific Life
He was soon married to Lokasundari of Madurai. Though he wanted to pursue research, there were not many labs and facilities available for such an option, hence he wrote the Financial Civil Services examination and go through it easily. He was posted as Assistant Accountant General at Calcutta. Once while going to work, he comes across the Indian Association for Cultivation of Science and he soon managed to get the keys to IACS. from here, he both worked as an efficient government servant and also satisfied his hunger for research at night time. During this time, he started publishing his content and knowledge the world over and started gaining respect and communication with other scientists of the world.
Works of C. V. Raman
Raman's fascination for waves and sound forced him to perform his first research on musical instruments based on the book Sensations of Tone by Helmholtz. He published a book on the working of a Violin and had characterized a way to determine the quality of a Violin which is still used even today. The astonishing fact about this accomplishment is Raman had no money to afford a Violin so he builds a Mechanical Violin made of spare parts and cycle parts. Such was the determination of this young and inquisitive person that he simply stripped through all the obstacles he came across. In 1917, Raman bravely quit his job to join the Calcutta University as Palit professor of Physics. Here he churned out many brilliant physicists of his time like K. R. Ramanathan, K. S. Krishnana and Suri Bhagavantam. Soon Raman was sent to the University Congress at Oxford to represent Calcutta University. On the ship voyage, he was very fascinated by the blue color of the sea. This phenomenon was explained by Lord Rayleigh as simply a reflection of the blue sky by water. But the inquisitive Raman was not satisfied and hence did some experiments with some optical tools. He soon published a paper on
Molecular Diffraction of Light
which included facts like light may exist in Quanta or small packets of energy which was a very radical and uncommon thought in those days. Soon this fact was further verified by the Compton Effect which established beyond doubt the fact that light exists in quanta. This encouraged Raman to resume his research on diffraction of light which eventually lead to the discovery of the famous
in 1927for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1929. Thus culminated a life of struggles and hardships which were combated efficiently and in a sincere and simple manner by a dedicated man.
After the Nobel
Raman then slipped into the role of Director,
Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
where he further pursued his work in research. Soon he started the building of the Raman Research Institute in Bangalore which would be dedicated to scientific research. This great man left his mortal body on 21 November 1970 which left a huge void in the field of Indian Science which was at that time beginning to gain momentum. This was a huge blow and his mortal remains were subjected to flames in the RRI in a simple manner just like he lived his life. Thus ended the journey of one of the greatest scientific minds produced by India. He is a matter of pride and everyone of us should be proud that such people ever lived in this country.
Raman was a child prodigy and was very gifted. He was also very disciplined and hardworking. His determination was very high and he simply moved past every obstacle that obstructed his path. He spent a life without freedom as at that time India was not a free country and his patriotism and love for this country is obvious through the fact that
he broke down while he was receiving the Nobel Prize because he was representing a British Colony and not an independent state.
His life will inspire everyone who is deprived of facilities. Also one must understand that we should not lament about what we don't have but try to make efficient use of what we have around us instead of wasting time. His alternative line of thinking and imagining differently were what lead to his famous discovery and not money and influence. Thus The life of this great personality is a valid proof that
one can do miracles even if he is not rich or does not have any good facilities.
Read related articles:
C.V. Raman biography
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