THE year was 1923, the then Prime Minister of Britain Ramsay Macdonald and the inimitable Bernard Shaw were watching a demonstration by experimental physicist and biophysicist, Sir J. C. Bose, who with his indigenously developed instrument was trying to show his guests the 'feelings' of a cabbage while it was roasted. Seeing the cabbage's agony on being heated, Shaw was literally moved to tears.
Bose's other great contributions were: Production of a compact apparatus for generation of electromagnetic waves of wave length from 22 mm to 5 mm and the study of their quasi-optical properties; discovery of the common nature of electric response of all forms of stimulation in animal and plant tissues as well as in some organic models.; and the study of response phenomena in plants. He concluded that plants like human beings, possess the power of response. He proved that roots are not the sole media for procuring food, that plants have nerves and they, too, feel the pain when hurt and that plant cells expand and contract like the heart in men and animals. His studies in molecular strain and recovery led him to a new photographic theory, which explained the gradual disappearance of latent image in a photographic plate left undeveloped, as recovery from strain.
In 1895, it is said, he successfully demonstrated in Calcutta the transmission of electric waves from his radiator in his lecture room to another 75 feet away, where his receiver managed to pick up enough energy to ring a bell and fire a pistol. Unfortunately he did not patent his invention, and in 1896 Marconi announced his invention of wireless telegraphy.
Bose was by no means preoccupied with his inventions all the time, he was also concerned about the socio-political situation of India, and he believed that Indians could get out of the abyss they had got themselves into. 'It was action,' he believed, 'not weak passivity that was glorified in heroic India of the past. There can be no happiness for any of us unless it has been won for all. I would, therefore, urge the doctrine of strength and of undying hope.'