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History of Science in India - Physics, Mathematics and Statistics (Volume I, Part - I)

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About the Authors Dr. Sibaji Raha Sibaji Raha was born in Calcutta in 1954, got his B.Sc. (Honours) degree from Presidency College of the University of Calcutta, Master of Science from the University of Delaware and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin. In Kolkata, he has served at Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics and is now at Bose Institute. His interests straddle many sub-branches of Physics, j including nuclear and particle physics, astroparticle physics,...

About the Authors

Dr. Sibaji Raha Sibaji Raha was born in Calcutta in 1954, got his B.Sc. (Honours) degree from Presidency College of the University of Calcutta, Master of Science from the University of Delaware and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin. In Kolkata, he has served at Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics and is now at Bose Institute. His interests straddle many sub-branches of Physics, j including nuclear and particle physics, astroparticle physics, astrophysics & cosmology, non-linear and quantum field theory and lately, atmospheric physics. He has spent almost 20 years in various stretches in USA, Germany, France, Italy, Brazil and Japan, studying, teaching and researching physics, in addition to numerous short-term visits to several other countries. This wide exposure has instilled in him a passionate interest in the history of science and popularisation of science. He remains a lifelong student of physical sciences, steadily pursuing uncharted territories, which has given him not many awards but enumerable rewards.

Dr. Bikash Sinha Dr. Bikash Sinha Born June 16, 1945. formerly Director, Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre, Department of Atomic Energy, Sector-I, Block-AF, Bidhan Nagar, Kolkata 700064 and Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics. Bikash Sinha obtained BSc. (1964) from Calcutta University, BA (1967) from (Cambridge) and (Ma) (Natural Science) ( 1968) Ph. D. (1970) from (London University DSc (1981) and also from London University and Ph. D.(hc) from National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine(2005). He was Senior Research Fellow in King's College. Academic and Research Achievements Sinha's early research field was in nuclear physics, specifically in the nuclear optical model and nuclear structure studies. he established theoretical as well as experimental groups at VECC and SINP for the study of quark gluon plasma. Under his leadership of Professor Sinha, both VECC and SINP have developed into front ranking institutes in the country. Professor Sinha was bestowed the SN Bose Birth Centenary Award (1994), Padma Shree (2001), Alexander von Hombolt Research Award (2005).

Prof. Dilip Kumar Sinha Professor Dilip Kumar Sinha's began with a Honours in Mathematics from Presidency College, Kolkata in 1957, followed by a M.Sc. degree in Applied Mathematics of the University of Calcutta in 1959. He joined as Lecturer in J.u. and he became reader and Professor of Applied Mathematics and Served for 14 Years. Later he joined C. U. as Sir Rash Behary Ghose professor of Applied Mathematics. He published a book on 'Some Baiscs of Nonlinearities in Mathematical Sciences' Published by ANTHEM PRESS(2006), London.

Prof. Shyamaprasad Mukherjee Centenary Professor of Statistics in the C. U. since 1982 till retirement in 2004. Dean of the Faculty of Science during 1987-91 and was a member of the National Advisory Board on Statistics (Govt. Of India) and Programme Advisory Committee on Mathematical Sciences (Dept. of Science and Technology, Govt. of India was admitted to the Fellowship of the National Academy of Science, India(1992) and was president of Indian Society of Probability and Statistics; he was a Vice-President of the International Federation of Operational Research Societies(IFORS).

Dr. Sumona Mukherjee, Dr. Sumona Mukherjee, M.Sc., Ph.D., FBS, Associate Professor in Botany HOD of Botany Dept., Bidhannagar College, Salt Lake, Kolkata She has 23years of teaching experience including postgraduate teaching, in the fields of Cytogenetics, Cytochemistry, Biodiversity & Toxi cology & publications in National & International. She is Fellow of the Indian Botanical Society (FBS) in 1990-91,Young Scientist Award at the Indian Science Congress in 1986, M.S. Swaminathan awardee of the Indian Botanical society in 1986, she received also Certificate of merit & Cas prize for the Best paper presented at the all India Botanical society in 1985, National Scholarship in 1976.


I am indeed happy that the National Academy of Sciences, India has decided to sponsor the publication by the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture of 'History of Science in India'-a multi volume series commemorating the centenary of Indian Science Congress Association and sesquicentennial Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda-one of the principal initiators of Institutional Science in India. This series, of which the present one is called 'Physics, Mathematics and Statistics', starts with our science heritage, followed by its growth in successive phases culminating in the present challenges. It is written in a language meant for the common readers.

I sincerely hope that this commendable venture would indeed generate interest and awareness of all concerned with the basic objectives of Science-its search for eternal truth, enrichment of knowledge, and alleviation of misery of the humanity as a whole. The present volume provides a glimpse of many of our revered scientists, who laid the foundation of modern Physics, Mathematics & Statistics and explored new horizons in the field.

I wish the venture a grand success.



There are two ways of writing history - one, the scholarly way, where the emphasis is on details, a thorough analysis of facts and figures, which allows one to draw firm conclusions. The intended audience there is the erudite peers, who can critically evaluate the conclusions, and either agree or disagree with. The other is to tell a story. In either case, the essential requirement of objectivity cannot be dispensed with; accuracy must be maintained, of course to the best of the historian's ability.

We have adopted the second path. To the best of our understanding, the purpose of the present series is to introduce the history of science in India to the general reader who is not expected to be an expert but has a general interest in learning about India's tradition in the practice of science as a noble human endeavour, and where we stand today in the global context. The editor-in-chief of the series, Prof. Arun Kumar Sharma, entrusted us with the task of putting together the part dealing with Physical Sciences section of the Part 1 of the first volume. Keeping the intended audience in mind, we chose to dispense with details and give a flavour of the evolution of physical ideas and activities done within the Indian context. Thus, there are almost no equations or figures, though at times this has put us in some difficulty. After all, let us recall the famous quote from Einstein: Physics should be made as simple as possible but not simpler. We have tried our best not to deviate from facts but in some instances, some generalisation or oversimplification might have crept in. Our apologies to the expert readers.

In choosing the topics for the recent activities in India, this limitation may have been the most prominent. Starting from the pioneering Physics researches in India by the likes of C. Bose, C. V. Raman, Meghnad Saha or S. N. Bose, the canvas of Physics research in India has broadened many-fold. Covering all of them adequately would have taken many more pages, many more years of effort and most importantly, much greater familiarity across the breadth of the various branches of Physics which any single (or two) individual(s) would be unlikely to possess. We thus tender an unconditional apology to our colleagues whose important works may have escaped mention here. The criterion we set for ourselves was to highlight the works of international standard that have been recognised to stand the test of time.

This work does not claim to be original or scholarly; we have often relied on other authors' works, which may not have been fully cited. Our apologies on this score too.

The chapters on mathematics covers history of mathematical studies and activities in Indian contexts. It is designed to remind a reader of the leading changes in mathematical thoughts. A critical hindsight into the days of mathematical antiquity enables a reader to construct afresh the historical endeavours. The interactive modes with mathematical personalities and communities abroad are also taken into account. Contemporary features of mathematical sciences, particularly basics of statistics and breakthroughs, are touched upon. About the Physical Science, in the suncentric earth, distance between moon and the sun from the earth is almost 100 times of the diameter of these bodies. In brief, historical scenarios in realms of mathematical and related sciences are found to be reassuring. The classic source materials and works on history of mathematics in the Indian setting are acknowledge. The spadework for developing this treatise was untiringly done by Sri Devaprasanna Sinha, the Research Associate, and a distinguished Computer Scientist, to whom I am greatful. Relevant materials at Indian National Science Academy and Dyal Singh Public Library have been of substantial use in this work, and I am immensely thankful to them.

Moreover, the authors are thankful to Dr. Sumona Mukherjee, who kindly wrote about the History of the Asiatic Society, and Science Academies of India that were designed to look into the interest of scientists and promote the excellence of science on this subcontinent.

As already implied above, we address ourselves in this volume primarily to high school and college students, and general readers having a rudimentary familiarity with the general concepts of science. If anyone, on reading this treatise, feels curious to read further on any of the topics, we will consider our efforts richly rewarded.




  Publisher's Note v
  Foreword vii
  Preface xi
  Editorial Note xiii
1 The Asiatic Society and Science Academies of India by Dr. Sumuna Mukherjee 1


2 Introuduction 32
3 Physics Research and Education in Colonial India 45
4 Physics Research in Independent India 71
5 International Physics of Indian origin 89
6 Indian Physics Today in the global Environment (1980-Present) 104


7 Introduction 132
8 Prologue 137
9 Glimpsing through Math of Antiquity 138
10 Mathematics in Vedic Civilization 145
11 Mathematics in the Sixth Century BCE 149
12 Bhakshali Manuscript 161
13 On Geometrical Pursuits in Indian Antiquity 171
14 Interlude 178
15 Peaks of Mathematics in Ancient India 186
16 Colonial Influences 194
17 Asutosh Mukherjee and Srinivasa Ramanujan 201
18 Seeking a legacy of Renaissance 203
19 Confluences with Western Mathematics & Mathematicians 207
20 Recounting the Mathematical Enlightenment few Facets of Indo-European Interaction 210
21 Vicinity of Pre-Independence Phase 214
22 Global Impact Vis A vis Indian Response: A Retrospect 218
23 Epilogue: Some Unexplored Facets 223
24 Onging Dimensionalization of Mathematics Methematical Sciences and Technolgoy 231


25 Statistics in India: The Saga of a Century by Shyama Prosas Mukherjee 237
  Bio-Data of the Authors 285


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Publisher: The National Academy of Science, India (Nasi) & The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture
Pages: 301 (7 B/W Illustrations)
Weight: 705 gms
Specifications: Hardcover (Edition: 2014)

The National Academy of Science, India (Nasi) & The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture
ISBN 9789381325407

Language: English
Size: 10.0 inch x 7.5 inch
Pages: 301 (7 B/W Illustrations)
Weight of the Book: 705 gms
Item Code: NAK255
Price: $25.00
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