National Science Day(Celebrating Raman)

February 28, 2006

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Feb 28th is our National Science day ! This day, in the year 1928, C.V. Raman announced to the world his famous discovery, a discovery which would earn him a Nobel prize. You can read about his work in the presentation speech that preceded his nobel lecture. Some excerpts:

The diffusion of light is an optical phenomenon, which has been known for a long time. A ray of light is not perceptible unless it strikes the eye directly. If, however, a bundle of rays of light traverses a medium in which extremely fine dust is present, the ray of light will scatter to the sides and the path of the ray through the medium will be discernible from the side. We can represent the course of events in this way; the small particles of dust begin to oscillate owing to electric influence from the ray of light, and they form centres from which light is disseminated in all directions. The wavelength, or the number of oscillations per second, in the light thus diffused is here the same as in the original ray of light. But this effect has different degrees of strength for light with different wavelengths. It is stronger for the short wavelengths than for the long ones, and consequently it is stronger for the blue part of the spectrum than for the red part. Hence if a ray of light containing all the colours of the spectrum passes through a medium, the yellow and the red rays will pass through the medium without appreciable scattering, whereas the blue rays will be scattered to the sides. This effect has received the name of the “Tyndall effect”.

Lord Rayleigh, who has made a study of this effect, has put forward the hypothesis that the blue colours of the sky and the reddish colouring that is observed at sunrise and sunset is caused by the diffusion of light owing to the fine dust or the particles of water in the atmosphere. The blue light from the sky would thus be light-scattered to the sides, while the reddish light would be light that passes through the lower layers of the atmosphere and which has become impoverished in blue rays owing to scattering. Later, in 1899, Rayleigh threw out the suggestion that the phenomenon in question might be due to the fact that the molecules of air themselves exercised a scattering effect on the rays of light.

In 1914 Cabannes succeeded in showing experimentally that pure and dustless gases also have the capacity of scattering rays of light.

But a closer examination of scattering in different substances in solid, liquid, or gaseous form showed that the scattered light did not in certain respects exactly follow the laws which, according to calculation, should hold good for the Tyndall effect. The hypothesis which formed the basis of this effect would seem to involve, amongst other things, that the rays scattered to the sides were polarized. This, however, did not prove to be exactly the case.

This divergence from what was to be expected was made the starting point of a searching study of the nature of scattered light, in which study Raman was one of those who took an active part. Raman sought to find the explanation of the anomalies in asymmetry observed in the molecules. During these studies of his in the phenomenon of scattering, Raman made, in 1928, the unexpected and highly surprising discovery that the scattered light showed not only the radiation that derived from the primary light but also a radiation that contained other wavelengths, which were foreign to the primary light.

(Image Courtesy :

The National Science day speech of President of India is available here. He starts off with

My greetings to all of you. I am indeed very happy to talk to you on the occasion of National Science Day, which is celebrated on the 28th of February every year, the day in the year 1930, Nobel Laureate Sir CV Raman announced a landmark discovery which is finding applications today in the area of continuous wave all-silicon laser. On this day, the nation pays tribute and expresses its gratitude to all the scientists who have made our dream of using the science and scientific discoveries as vehicles for economic development, a reality. Celebration of Science will attract many young children to take up science as a career. This is the day, our Scientists may like to rededicate themselves to create high quality scientific research output from India and make the nation proud. Science day is the day to remind us that the important ingredient for societal transformation would mainly come from science.

and then goes on to talk about the usual pet topics which are so dear to him – Solar cells and other alternatives that are being explored in energy research. No pure science here though 😦 which in a way is what I expected ..

Indian science, in my opinion, is at crossroads. There is a lot which remains to be done – many tasks waiting for scientists of different hues and world views to take them up. And India with its diversity and intellectual potential has no excuse for not getting them done. To quote the concluding words of this years budget speech,

The young people of India are building castles, it may appear that those castles are in the air, but as Henry David Thoreau said: “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” It is our duty to put the foundations on which the young can build their castles.

(via nanopolitan )


18 Responses to “National Science Day(Celebrating Raman)”

  1. Aswin Says:


    I just read some of the older posts in your blog…great man! I refrain from posting anything that is even seemingly technical as it may be revolting to many. Hope u keep up ur enthu for such posts!! U in M.Sc(integ) of IITK??

  2. nayagam Says:

    Aswin:U in M.Sc(integ) of IITK??

    Yep, I am in my final year. And about technical articles, I do try to be as simple as possible, but as I’ve realised lately, it’s a very difficult thing to be non-technical and still be accurate enough to convey the essence of a subject. I hope I’ll become better with time. And, yeah, thank you- I hope you liked my posts..

  3. jyoti Says:

    I think lots of importance should be given to the science. Yes it is the only wepon through which we can remove all the superstitions from the peoples mind and can give best of the knowledge to the world.

  4. Gowri Says:

    Its amazing that an Indian scientist of our times has done us proud by winning the nobel prize for Physics for his Raman Effect by entirely studying in India.I think he deserves to be celebrated a lot more.Children here are not as familar with the names of Indian scientists as they are with foreign scientists names.Our text books highlight the achievements of scientists of western countries only.Children should be made aware of the contributions of Indian scientists so that they feel proud of their country & feel motivated to pursue higher education in science.

  5. nayagam Says:

    Its amazing that an Indian scientist of our times has done us proud by winning the nobel prize for Physics for his Raman Effect by entirely studying in India.I think he deserves to be celebrated a lot more.

    I will agree with you. But, I would add that understanding Raman effect is a greater tribute to Raman than celebrating him blindly.

    Science often needs people who are good at questioning what came before them and those who are good at thinking beyond what has been already done. It needs those who can balance their scepticism with wonder, curiosity with maturity, humility with self-confidence. And the best way to develop science in our country is to encourage such a curiosity in our children.

  6. sargam malhotra Says:

    11th standerd i had many subjects but nothing is more intresting then the deep science of India

  7. Arbaz Ahmed Says:

    We have to Be thankful to sir cv raman he got Nobel Prize in 1930. but stil from 1930 why doen’t we get any Nobel. from coming Science day we will not only celebrate we will do hard work to make more miracle

  8. Dr. Madhu Phull Says:

    Yes it is true that we have not been able to get any Noble Prize since 1930 and we need to work hard to bring glory to Indian science, but proabaly more important is making science as way of living. Thinking logically and rationally. Even if we are not able to get any Noble prize but if our masses develop the capability to use the available knowledge for benefit of mankind and harness scientific information for making the earth a safer place to live, I hope we will be able to achieve the objectives of celebrating National Science Day.

  9. K. Mallick Says:

    One does not carry out research to get only prizes. Many excellent findings are not known at all to many. Research should give pleasure of finding new results, hitherto unknown, and be useful to others. Sharing of knowledge and spreading awareness are important. Leaders in science should encourage their colleagues and have large hearts to give full credit to them. The purpose of science day is to look beyond today, and every has a role to play to bring honour to the nation

  10. William Pagdon Says:

    As a Field Service Technician of Raman Spectrometers, Sir C.V. Raman’s accomplishments are celebrated daily. He has inspired many from India to follow in his footsteps. I want to say they are seen by me as examples that India should be proud of. Not everyone can recieve a Nobel Prize. We should celebrate those that do and respect those that apsire to such achievement.

  11. Dear Friend:
    I was delighted to look into your rich website which I came across quite by accident.
    I trust it is read widely all over India and beyond.
    With due respects to spirituality and religion, I will say that through your website you are dong greater service to the cause of an awakening India than a hundred swamijis put together.
    It is good to see you have included notes on Tagore and Tiruvalluvar too, for science without culture would be dry and without meaning.
    Be well!
    Dr. V. V. Raman
    Emeritus Professor of Physics and Humanities
    Rochester Inst. of Technology

  12. […] on India to be the big, global power by the end of this century just consider:  India celebrates National Science Day every February 28th .  In memory of an Indian physicist who won a Nobel Prize 79 YEARS AGO!!! […]

  13. Amiya Sarkar Says:

    Thank you for a very easy-to-understand treatise on C. V. Raman and scattering. However, I was rather saddened to learn that he (Raman) had this parochial outlook about Bengal and Bengalis. So much so that he even requested Moutbatten that Bengal be seceded from India. Here’s the link:

    Hope this is not true. Can’t really think of this great man as harbouring so narrow views.

  14. nayagam Says:

    Dear Amiya

    The story in “The Telegraph” that you have linked to is so muddled in so many ways that it is difficult to decide what is its greatest flaw.

    To start with, the whole article reads as if Bengal and Tamilnadu are the only states where Indian scientists live. There is no mention of Harischandra or Khorana or Bhabha all of whom are comparable (and some might say superior) in their scientific stature to other scientists discussed in the article. I will be the first one to grant that regional
    disparities in Indian science academia is a serious issue which has to be tackled. But, it is quite annoying if people just want to select facts that support their parochial hypotheses.

    Next flaw that leaps out of the article is the shameless nobel-centrism which
    stands as the primary motivation for the article at this point of time.
    The only good reason to forgive the authors is the fact that this disease is
    quite common and is often left unchallenged. Again, national disparities in
    science are a serious issue worth thinking about but I don’t think there is
    much advantage to framing it as a question about nobel prizes. To think about
    science in terms of nobel prizes suffers from same drawbacks as thinking about
    education in terms of exams or thinking about politics in terms of elections.

    Coming to the particular statement which is attributed to Raman, I am
    surprised how the article basically renders both the primary and the
    secondary source obscure. Some unnamed scientist claims having seen
    copy of some letter whose existence the authors have not bothered
    to check and that seems all that is needed to frame an accusation !
    We are told of “Southern scientists”, “Bengal scientists”, “A
    senior scientist, who too did not want to be named”, “A physics
    faculty member from Calcutta, who did not wish to go on record”
    and the bulk of the article is built on such gossip. This might
    be a fair material for tea-time gossip ( may be even a blog post)
    but in my opinion, it is substandard material for a mainstream newspaper.

    That is just to say that I have no reason to believe the particular claim. Having said that , let me add that I don’t believe that Raman was a saint and given sufficient sources to buttress that claim , I find the claim to be a historically interesting one. If Raman did write a letter to Mountbatten, I would be very much interested in knowing what he wrote (and in what context). If this claim is indeed true, it raises historically interesting questions regarding Indian academia vis a vis partition. Raman’s letter if it existed would be interesting for the same reason Newton’s work on alchemy is interesting. But, till that claim is confirmed, there is not much point in baseless speculations.

    And regarding your statement

    “Can’t really think of this great man as harbouring so narrow views.”

    I can just say that it is probably too narrow to classify humans as entirely great or entirely narrow. The
    success of the methods adopted in science is that they are robust and they work for you even if you’re not a saint. In that sense, it is easier to be a good scientist than to be a good human being…

    With regards.

  15. Amiya Sarkar Says:

    I completely agree with your views; they are rational, scientific and to the point!
    The paper definitely needed to substantiate ‘facts’ with PROPER references; and that Shockley was an ‘anti black’– has little relevance on his scientific methods.
    Don’t know why the media goes so bonkers even about American scientists whose grandparents once lived in India and waste no time in claiming the Nobel as an India earned one! They then count the spoils on a regional basis! It’s so mean.
    You approach to this ‘piece of news’ is perfectly in tune to that of a scientist.
    Thanks Nayagam!

  16. Prahallad Says:

    Great discusn….
    Like al d above posts….
    Wish all should know abt this…

  17. Bio Tools Says:

    It’s good to see articles referencing the “godfather of Raman optical activity”, which so many devices use as a foundation for their operation.

  18. sushma Says:

    national science is a useful day raman recieved his nobel prize in 1930 this was the fanatastic creation,wonderful

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