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Great scientist Subhash Mukhopadhyay

The Great scientist Subhash Mukhopadhyay was born in Calcutta in India. He was educated at the Scottish Church College and after that he joined at the Calcutta Medical College, which was then affiliated to the University of Calcutta. His life and death has been the subject of countless newspaper reviews and a Bollywood film directed Tapan Sinha entitled “Ek Doctor ki Maut” (Death of a Physician). Dr. Subhash Mukhopadhyay created history when he became the first physician in India and second in the world after British physician Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards to perform the procedure to produce the test tube baby “ Durga” (alias Kanupriya Agarwal ) on October 3, 1978.

Facing social ostracisation, bureaucratic negligence, reprimand, and insult instead of recognition from the Marxist West Bengal Government and refusal of the Government of India to allow him to attend International conferences, he committed suicide in his Calcutta residence in 1981. His feat has been given belated recognition as the Indian physician who in 1986 was “officially” regarded as being the first doctor to perform in-vitro fertilization in India. His reinstatement to glory is attributable to Professor T.C. Anand Kumar who is credited to be the mastermind behind India’s second (officially the first) test tube baby. Professor Kumar took the crown off his own head after reviewing personal notes of Dr. Subhash Mukhopadhyay. Professor Sunit Mukherji, who was a one time colleague of Dr. Mukhopadhyay, ably helped him. Professor Kumar is currently active in setting up a Research Institute in reproductive biology in memory of Dr. Mukhopadhyay.

Test tube baby Kanupriya Agarwal ( Durga)

Bhaskara I ( 600 - 680 )

Bhaskara was an Indian mathematician of the 7th century, who probably lived between c. 600- c.680. There is very little information about Bhaskara’s life. It is said that he was born near Saurashtra in Gujrat and died in Ashmaka, Andhra Pradesh, India. His father in astronomy educated him. Bhaskara is considered a follower of Aryabhatta I and one of the most renowned scholars of Aryabhatta’s astronomical school.

Bhaskara wrote two treatises, the Mahabhaskariya (Great book of Bhaskara ) and the Laghubhaskariya (Small book of Bhaskara). He also wrote commentaries on the work of Aryabhatta I entitled Aryabhatiyabhasya. The Mahabhaskariya comprises of eight chapters dealing with mathematical astronomy. The formula which Bhaskara gives is amazingly accurate and use of the formula leads to a maximum error of less than one percent. The formula is :

Sine x = 16x ( ð – x ) / [ 5 ð2 – 4x ( ð – x) ]

Bhaskara perpetual motion wheel.

Aryabhatta Scientist (476- 550)

Aryabhatta is the first of the great astronomers of the classical age of India. He was born in Kerala, South India in 476 AD but later lived in Kusumapura, which his commentator Bhaskara I (629 AD) identifies with pataliputra (modern Patna) in Bihar. His first name “Arya” is hardly a south Indian name while “Bhatt” (or Bhatta) is a typical north Indian name even found today specially among the trader community.

Aryabhatta studied at the University of Nalanda. One of his major works was Aryabhatiya written in 499 AD. His book aryabhatiya covers astronomical and mathematical theories in which the earth was taken to be spinning on its axis and the periods of the planets were given with respect to the sun. Aryabhatta believes that the moon and planets shine by reflected sunlight and he also believes that the orbits of the planets are ellipses. He correctly explains the causes of eclipses of the Sun and the Moon. His value for the length of the year at 365 days 6 hours 12 minutes 30 seconds is remarkably close to the true value which is about 365 days 6 hours. In this book, the day was reckoned from one sunrise to the next, whereas in his Aryabhata-siddhanta he took the day from one midnight to another. There was also difference in some astronomical parameters.

Aryabhatta was the first to explain how the Lunar Eclipse and the Solar Eclipse happened. Aryabhatta also gave close approximation for Pi. In the Aryabhatiya, he wrote-“Add 4 to 100, multiply by 8, then add 62000 and then divided by 20000. The result is approximately the circumference of a circle of diameter twenty thousand. By this rule the relation of the circumference to diameter is given.” In other words, p ~ 62832/20000= 3.1416, correct to four rounded – off decimal places. Aryabhatta was the first astronomers to make an attempt at measuring the earth’s circumference. Aryabhata accurately calculated the earth’s circumference as 24835 miles, which was only 0.2 % smaller than the actual value of 24,902 miles. This approximation remained the most accurate for over a thousand years.

Aryabhatiya was translated into Latin in the 13th century. Through this translation, European mathematician got to know methods for calculating the areas of triangles, volumes of spheres as well as square and cube root. Aryabhatta’s ideas about eclipses and the sun being the sources of moonlight may not have caused much of an impression on European astronomers as by then they had come to know of these facts through the observations of Copernicus and Galileo. Considering that Aryabhatta discovered these facts 1500 years ago, and 1000 years before Copernicus and Galileo makes him an early pioneer of this field. Aryabhatta – Siddhanta were reliable for practical purpose of fixing the Panchanga (Hindu Calendar) . He died in India.

India's great scientists Aryabhatta

Statue of Aryabhata on the grounds of IUCAA, Pune.

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