He did bestride the narrow world

like a Colossus.

Words that could be- and were- said of Homi Bhabha, whose birth centenary has just been celebrated at the TIFR, Mumbai, an institution that he built, nurtured and cherished.

It was a grand celebration, befitting of the man who essentially forged India's scientific destiny, by not just realizing that our country's progress, both material and social, required a scientific foundation, but also went about enabling us in the most fundamental way- by building the required institutions. The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, the Department of Atomic Energy... and their numerous descendants, IGCAR (Kalpakkam), CAT (Indore), the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata, the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai, the Harishchandra Research Institute, Allahabad... The list is long and very distinguished.

Bhabha was a man of many parts. First and foremost, he was a great scientist, part of the golden age of physics in the last century. Who counted among his friends and mentors Einstein, Dirac, Bohr, Pauli, and many others. Who predicted mesons. After whom a special form of the relativistic wave equation for elementary particles - the Bhabha equations - are named... And in addition, he was an aesthete (of the times when the word was complimentary) with sensibilities that extended to the creative arts, a painter of some distinction, a landscaper, a great collector and patron of the fine arts.

There are many books by and on Bhabha. Earlier, this blog has talked about his Magnificent Obsession, and has also featured the Physics News issue on him.

The Indian Physics Association has just brought out a superb collection of articles on Bhabha entitled Tribute to a Titan, edited by Dipan Ghosh and Arun Grover. Priced at Rs 300, this collection has some of his important letters, lectures, articles on him, his work, and his vision. It is simple to order: Write to us here.

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