Krishnan and Raman

The first four decades of the 20th century were glorious years for science, especially physics. Our view of the physical world changed forever with the emergence of quantum mechanics and Einstein’s formulation of the theory of relativity. India too contributed significantly to this scientific revolution with the discoveries made by S N Bose, C V Raman and M N Saha, all in the space of about a decade. Kariamanikkam Srinivasa Krishnan (1898- 1961) belonged to the same illustrious group. He was perhaps the only Indian physicist of his generation who was equally adept in theory and experiment. Besides a life of excellence in science, Krishnan’s destiny led him to be an able science policy maker and administrator. He was also a great teacher, a humanist and a scholar of Sanskrit, Tamil literature and philosophy.

Kariamanikkam Srinivasa Krishnan: His Life and Work  is the new biography of this remarkable and largely unsung hero of modern Indian science by D C V Malik and S Chatterjee, both associated with the Indian Institute of Astrophysics. Malik's professional research has been mainly in the area of interstellar matter and astrophysics of nebulae, and this biography is the result of several years of his research on the life and times of Dr Krishnan. Chatterjee's interests are in condensed matter physics, astrophysics and optics, and in the popularisation of science and science teaching.

This biography, besides being a detailed and meticulously documented account of Krishnan’s life and his scientific work, is also an exciting account of the history of Indian science of the period. The source material of this work, most of which are being used for the first time, comes from the private papers of K S Krishnan that had remained in the custody of his family.

Rs 895, 516 pages in hardcover. ISBN: 9788173717482

Krishnan's mentor, C V Raman is also the subject of a new biography by Uma Parameswaran, from Penguin India.  In 1921, while on a voyage to England, Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman was amazed by the spectacular blue of the Mediterranean Sea. Seven years of research led to the Raman Effect, an explanation of the molecular diffraction of light that won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930—the first non-white and first Asian to be thus honoured.

Always a nationalist, Raman strove to win a place for India in the international arena by mentoring scores of students, many of whom became renowned scientists; he also organized conferences for the promotion of scientific inquiry and founded significant journals. After a long spell at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science and at Calcutta University, and a fruitful tenure at the Indian Institute of Science as the first Indian director, he set up the Raman Research Institute in 1948, where his legacy survives to this day.

Raman was famous not only for his sharp intellect, but also for his personal charm, abundant vitality and sense of humour. This comprehensive biography details for the first time Raman’s growth as an individual, taking us through his childhood years, his relationships and his travels.

296 pages in paperback, Rs 350. ISBN: 9780143066897