Indian physicist, biologist, and plant physiologist Jagadish Chandra Bose revolutionized science with his research on how plants and animals react to external stimuli. He founded the Bose Institute, made pioneering contribution to the field of radio and microwave optics, and also penned one of the first works of Bengali science fiction.
Padma Bhushan-winning physicist Homi Bhabha revolutionized the Indian nuclear program singlehandedly. Born into an affluent family, he was educated at Cambridge. Initially geared toward a career in mechanical engineering, he later drifted to physics, eventually contributing to the formation of TIFR. The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre is named after him.
Best known for working with Albert Einstein to form Bose–Einstein statistics, Indian scientist Satyendra Nath Bose was a master of quantum mechanics. He played the esraj, loved poetry, and had mastered quite a few languages. The Padma Vibhushan winner was also made a Fellow of The Royal Society.
Remembered for his varied contribution to astrophysics, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar is perhaps best known for his work on the evolution of massive stars. Today known as Chandrasekhar limit, it contributed to final understanding of supernovas, neutron stars, and black holes. A prolific writer, he also did significant work on energy transfer by radiation in stellar atmospheres and convection on solar surface.
Padma Bhushan- and Padma Vibhushan-winning Indian scientist Vikram Sarabhai was born into the famous Sarabhai family of industrialists who were associated with the Indian Independence Movement. He made major contributions to India’s nuclear power and space research initiatives, developed textile research in India, and helped set up IIM-Ahmedabad.
Indian astrophysicist Meghnad Saha is best remembered for developing the thermal ionization equation. A grocer’s son, he relied on merit alone to excel in academics and eventually became a professor at the universities of Allahabad and Calcutta. He was also a Lok Sabha MP and a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Pakistani engineer Abdul Qadeer Khan was a major figure in the development of his country’s nuclear plans. His research also focused on uranium enrichment. He was later apparently involved in transfer of nuclear technology to Iran, among other countries, but was pardoned by then-president Pervez Musharraf.
The current Indian defense minister Rajnath Singh has previously held other important portfolios, such as home affairs and agriculture. He has also been a BJP president and the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. Born into a farmer’s family, he worked as a physics lecturer before he joined the RSS.
Born to a math professor father and a Sanskrit scholar mother, Astrophysicist and IUCAA professor Jayant Narlikar grew up to collaborate with Sir Fred Hoyle, leading to the conformal gravity theory, also known as the Hoyle-Narlikar theory. He has won the Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan and penned sci-fi novels, too.
The pioneer of fiber optics, Indian-American physicist Narinder Singh Kapany had over 100 patents in his name. He was the first to send images through fiber optics and also worked on areas such as laser technology and solar energy. He and his wife also established the California-based Sikh Foundation.
Padma Vibhushan winner and nine-time Nobel Prize nominee theoretical physicist E. C. George Sudarshan was born in India but moved to the U.S. to study at the University of Rochester. He later joined Harvard and made ground-breaking discoveries in topics such as quantum optics, tachyons, and the quantum Zeno effect.
Raja Ramanna was an Indian nuclear physicist, remembered for his role in the development of India’s nuclear weapons program. Beginning his career under Homi Bhabha, he eventually served as the director of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, overseeing India’s first nuclear weapons test in 1974. Meanwhile he also served as the secretary for defense research and later headed Atomic Energy Commission.
Ashoke Sen is an Indian theoretical physicist whose immense contribution to string theory has earned him accolades and respect around the world. The recipient of several prestigious awards like the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan, Sen also serves as a professor at several prestigious institutions like the Harish-Chandra Research Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Korea Institute for Advanced Study.
Considered as a child prodigy, Tathagat Avatar Tulsi is an Indian physicist, who finished high school at the age nine, earned his B.Sc. at eleven and M.Sc. at twelve. At twenty-one, he earned his PhD and in the following year joined IIT Mumbai as Assistant Professor on contract, where he worked until he lost his job due to bad health.
Indian physicist Amal Kumar Raychaudhuri laid down the Raychaudhuri equation, named after him. The celebrated Presidency College professor was a made a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences. He would always be dressed in his simple attire of white dhoti-kurta, even when he taught in the U.S. universities.
G. N. Ramachandran was an Indian physicist. His creation of the Ramachandran plot to better understand peptide structure has been playing a significant role in the field of protein conformation. He is also credited with founding the Molecular Biophysics Unit which is currently situated at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc).
Sekhar Basu was an Indian nuclear scientist credited with playing a major role in building the nuclear reactor for INS Arihant, India's first nuclear-powered submarine. He is also credited with building the Indian Neutrino Observatory in Theni and nuclear waste recycling plants in Kalpakkam and Tarapur. In 2014, he was honored with the Padma Shri award.
Abhas Mitra is an Indian astrophysicist who has gained popularity for challenging several cosmological concepts related to black holes and the Big Bang by popular physicists and cosmologists including Stephen Hawking. His article on black holes, which was published in 2000, challenged Hawking's theory. Hawking would later accept his blunder almost 13 years later.