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Homi J. Bhabha

Homi J. Bhabha

Homi Jahangir Bhabha, the son of Jehangir Hormusji Bhabha, played a pivotal role in the transformation of TIFR from a modest office at the University of Mumbai into a globally renowned research institute. Widely regarded as one of India’s most exceptional scientists, Homi J. Bhabha was born on October 30, 1909, in Bombay (now Mumbai) and tragically lost his life in a plane crash on January 24, 1966. This article delves into the life of Homi J. Bhabha, his father Jehangir Hormusji Bhabha, and highlights Homi J. Bhabha’s significant contributions to theoretical physics.

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Homi Jahangir Bhaba’s Life

Homi J. Bhabha was born into a Parsi family in Bombay (now Mumbai), with Jehangir Hormusji Bhabha and Mehran as his parents. His father, Jehangir Hormusji Bhabha, was a renowned lawyer. Bhabha’s educational journey began at Cathedral and John Connon School, followed by Elphinstone College in Bombay, where he earned a B.Sc. degree in mathematics and physics.

He furthered his studies at Cambridge University in England, attending Caius College, where he attained both his M.Sc. and PhD degrees. During his time at Cambridge, he collaborated with Ernest Rutherford and wrote his initial paper on the scattering of alpha particles by nuclei. Bhabha’s research extended to cosmic rays and radioactivity, with a stint at Oxford University under the mentorship of Sir Ronald Norrish, during which he closely interacted with Niels Bohr, delving into quantum theory and nuclear physics.

Upon returning to India, Bhabha embarked on an illustrious career. He served as a lecturer in physics at the Indian Institute of Science before assuming the role of its director. His expertise also led him to Thomson Electrical Company in Rugby, Warwickshire, where he contributed to advancements in radar technology as the chief physicist. Additionally, he held the position of a professor of physics at Presidency College (now Presidency University), Calcutta, affiliated with Calcutta University.

Homi Jahangir Bhaba’s Research

Homi J. Bhabha, an Indian physicist, dedicated his research to cosmic rays and nuclear theoretical physics. Pioneering the idea that primary cosmic rays bombarding Earth’s atmosphere could be disintegrating atomic nuclei, rather than free electrons or protons, he laid the groundwork for the concept of “nuclear fission“. This groundbreaking hypothesis subsequently became fundamental to modern nuclear power production. Bhabha’s visionary leadership and tireless efforts were instrumental in shaping India’s nuclear science and technology landscape post-World War II. He played a pivotal role in establishing scientific institutions and research centers, and was the driving force behind the planning of India’s first primary nuclear power plant near Mumbai (formerly Bombay).

Father of Nuclear Science

Homi Jehangir Bhabha, revered as the father of nuclear science in India and the architect of the Indian atomic energy program, was a pioneering nuclear physicist and educator. His pivotal role in establishing the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) transformed it into a hub for theoretical physics research and education. Additionally, he spearheaded the creation of the Atomic Energy Establishment at Trombay, now recognized as the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). Bhabha’s collaboration with Bikram Sarabhai in space research, despite their divergent perspectives, yielded significant contributions to India’s scientific advancements. Renowned for his studies on cosmic rays and theoretical physics, Bhabha’s investigations into the interactions between charged particles and matter charted the course for future research endeavors both domestically and internationally.


Homi Jahangir Bhabha, appointed by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru as Secretary and Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, held a distinctive vision for atomic energy. Unlike many of his contemporaries focused solely on military applications, Bhabha advocated for its peaceful utilization. He ardently believed in the potential of atomic energy for power generation and other constructive purposes, emphasizing the necessity of continuous research in nuclear engineering. Furthermore, the article delves into Bhabha’s familial background, particularly his father, Jehangir Hormusji Bhabha, and highlights the pivotal role played by Tata Steel Mills in shaping his life. Additionally, it explores Bhabha’s contributions to theoretical physics.

Read also: Jahangir (1605-1627)

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