Homi J. Bhabha
Homi Jehangir Bhabha, FRS (30 October 1909 – 24 January 1966) was an Indian nuclear physicist and the chief architect of the Indian atomic energy program. He was also responsible for the establishment of two well-known research institutions, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), and the Atomic Energy Establishment at Trombay, which after Bhabha's death was renamed as the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC)). As a scientist, he is remembered for deriving a correct expression for the probability of scattering positrons by electrons, a process now known as Bhabha scattering.
- I know quite clearly what I want out of my life. Life and my emotions are the only things I am conscious of. I love the consciousness of life and I want as much of it as I can get. But the span of one's life is limited. What comes after death no one knows. Nor do I care. Since, therefore, I cannot increase the content of life by increasing its duration, I will increase it by increasing its intensity. Art, music, poetry and everything else … I do have this one purpose — increasing the intensity of my consciousness of life.
- As quoted in the "Homi Jehangir Bhabha" profile at the Vigyan Prasar Science Portal
- I seriously say to you that business or job as an engineer is not the thing for me. 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. For, each man can do best and excel in only that thing of which he is passionately fond, in which he believes, as I do, that he has the ability to do it, that he is in fact born and destined to do it... I am burning with a desire to do physics. I will and must do it sometime. It is my only ambition. I have no desire to be a "successful" man or the head of a big firm. There are intelligent people who like that and let them do it. ... It is no use saying to Beethoven "You must be a scientist for it is great thing" when he did not care two hoots for science; or to Socrates "Be an engineer; it is work of intelligent man." It is not in the nature of things. I therefore earnestly implore you to let me do physics.
- Letter to his father, expressing his desire to study physics instead of mechanical engineering, as his father had wanted. His father agreed, on the condition that Bhabha pass the Mechanical Engineering Tripos with first class. He did that, and later passed the mathematical Tripos with First class too, as quoted in the "Homi Jehangir Bhabha" profile at the Vigyan Prasar Science Portal.
- There is at the moment in India no big school of research in the fundamental problems of physics, both theoretical and experimental. There are, however, scattered all over India competent workers who are not doing as good work as they would do if brought together in one place under proper direction. It is absolutely in the interest of India to have a vigorous school of research in fundamental physics, for such a school forms the spearhead of research not only in less advanced branches of physics but also in problems of immediate practical application in industry. If much of the applied research done in India today is disappointing or of very inferior quality it is entirely due to the absence of sufficient number of outstanding pure research workers who would set the standard of good research and act on the directing boards in an advisory capacity ... Moreover, when nuclear energy has been successfully applied for power production in say a couple of decades from now, India will not have to look abroad for its experts but will find them ready at hand. I do not think that anyone acquainted with scientific development in other countries would deny the need in India for such a school as I propose.
The subjects on which research and advanced teaching would be done would be theoretical physics, especially on fundamental problems and with special reference to cosmic rays and nuclear physics, and experimental research on cosmic rays. It is neither possible nor desirable to separate nuclear physics from cosmic rays since the two are closely connected theoretically.
- I feel that we in India are apt to believe that good scientific institutions can be established by Government decree or order. A scientific institution, be it a laboratory or an academy, has to be grown with great care like a tree. Its growth in terms of quality and achievement can only be accelerated to a very limited extent. This is a field in which a large number of mediocre or second rate workers cannot make up for a few outstanding ones, and the few outstanding ones always take at least 10-15 years to grow.
Too many of our National Laboratories have been established by deciding upon the field in which it was desired to work and by drawing up an organisational chart on the pattern of some corresponding large laboratory abroad. It was then assumed naively, that the posts in the chart could be filled by advertisement, forgetting that workers of the appropriate and high level either do not exist in India, or can only be obtained at the cost of some other institution, which thus becomes weaker of it. Our Universities, weak as they always were, have been further weakened in this matter.
- On the creation of research institutions, in a speech to the Indian National Science Academy (1963), as quoted in the "Homi Jehangir Bhabha" profile at the Vigyan Prasar Science Portal