National Science Day: C V Raman's Nobel-winning discovery celebrated each 28 Feb

For discovering the Raman Effect, C V Raman became the first Indian & Asian to win a Nobel Prize.


Yes, there are some that look forward to the month of February for other reasons than Valentine's Day and the shortest month in the year.

28 February also brings a day to commemorate an important discovery made by the legendary Indian physicist C V Raman.

Educated entirely in India, C V Raman's expertise were acoustic vibrations — sounds of string instruments like the violin, the veena and two signature Indian percussion instruments — the tabla and mridangam.

Raman made his first trip to London in 1921 to collaborate on a study with two internationally famous British scientists — J J Thomson and Lord Rutherford.

 National Science Day: C V Ramans Nobel-winning discovery celebrated each 28 Feb

Dr C V Raman. Image courtesy: RRI

His return journey to India — a fifteen-day voyage by ship, would be a historic one. Raman was struck by a question while cruising the deep blue Mediterranean waters: Why does the sea appear blue?

At the time, there was one explanation for it already, but one that Raman wasn't convinced by. Lord Rayleigh, a British scientist who made countless contributions to theoretical and experimental physics, explained that the colour of sea simply reflected the colour of the sky.

Raman outlined his thoughts on why he didn't agree with Rayleigh's theory and posted a letter to the journal Nature once his ship docked in the Bombay harbor.

He spent the next six years solidifying his theory and shared it with the world in a 1928 paper.

Blue seas and blue skies.

Blue seas and blue skies.

Raman showed conclusively — and for the first time — that the colour of the sea was blue because sunlight was scattered by water molecules. Ironically, it was the same exact argument Rayleigh had used to explain the sky's colour. The sea's blue, however, was because sunlight was split into its spectrum of colours by molecules in the air.

The only colour reflected by the water, that reaches our eyes is blue.

C V Raman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930 for this discovery, making him the first Indian and the first Asian to win the prestigious award.

For the past 32 years, every 28 February has been celebrated as a remembrance of Raman's contribution to science and the Indian scientific community.

Every Science Day has had a theme over the years. Last year's was 'Science and Technology for a Sustainable Future'. The theme for this year's Science Day is 'Science for the People and the People for Science'.

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