Bose and radio telescopes

Print edition : March 21, 1998

ONE of the most powerful radio telescopes, installed at the National Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, U.S., was built on a device originally developed by Jagdish Chandra Bose, according to a paper published in the June 1997 edition of the journal brought out by the U.S.-based Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers (IEEE). The paper is written by D.T.Emerson, the assistant director of the observatory.

Major radio astronomy centres around the world now plan to instal such radio telescopes based on the device, called dual prism attenuator.

Emerson, in his paper titled 'The work of Jagdish Chandra Bose: 100 years of MM-Wave Research', says, "...Outside India, Bose is rarely given the deserved recognition... J.C. Bose was at least 50 years ahead of his time."

Radio telescopes need to be extremely powerful as they are used to receive radio signals from stars that are great distances away. The sensitivity of radio telescopes depend on the dual prism attenuator. Bose experimented with this device and the results were published in Proceedings of the Royal Society in November 1897.

Scientists Schaefer and Gross made a theoretical study of the prism combination in 1910 and published their findings in the journal Annalen der Physik. They referred to the invention and the experimental work done by Bose.

The original device created by Bose is preserved at the Bose Institute, Calcutta. The journal has published photographs of the two instruments, the one prepared by Bose a century ago and that used in the Tucson observatory, to prove their similarities.

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