In 1930, C. V. Raman was the first `non-white', Asian and Indian to receive the Nobel prize in physics for his work on scattering of light and discovery of the Raman effect. The documents were obtained from the Nobel Committee connected with the proposal and selection of C. V. Raman for the Nobel prize and the results of the studies are reported in this paper.
The Nobel prize is one of the prizes known to a great part of the non-scientific public and is considered as the highest honour to be awarded to scientists. A short life sketch of the founder and the foundation of the Nobel prize is included in this article. The Statutes of the Nobel Foundation (SNF) which were approved by the Crown on 29 June 1900 had been decreed by the Swedish Government on 27 April 1995. The rules and regulations quoted here are taken from these statutes.
Raman received the Nobel prize in a record time of two years after his prize- winning discovery. Several questions have been raised about not sharing of the prize by Raman either with his colleagues or the Russian scientists. It will be shown here that it was not in Raman's hand to take this decision. The reasons for these are elaborated in this paper.
Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman (1888-1970)
India's only Nobel Laureate and the first Asian to be awarded the Nobel prize for physics, C. V. Raman was born on 8 November 1888 in Madras. Later, the family moved to Visakhapatnam, where his father was appointed a lecturer. Raman was a brilliant student. In 1907, he joined the Financial Civil Services, as an Assistant Accountant-General in Calcutta.
In his spare time, Raman started working on some problems in the field of acoustics at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, founded by Maherdra Lal Sarcar (1833-1904) based on the model of the Royal Institution in London. For nearly ten years, he worked independently and established his reputation as a scientist in India as well as in Europe. In 1917, he was appointed professor at the University of Calcutta. His first trip outside India was to Oxford in 1921 to represent the University of Calcutta.
During his voyage, he conducted some experiments and published a note in Nature entitled `The Colour of the Sea'1. It was a generally held belief that the blue colour of the sea is due to the reflected sky-light as well as due to absorption of the light by the suspended matter in the water. Raman showed that the blue colour of sea is independent of sky reflection as well as absorption, but rathter it is due to the molecular diffraction. These initial experiments opened up a new field of research in Calcutta. Further work on the scattering of light led to the discovery of the Raman effect in 1928. The effect deals with the change in the frequency of the monochromatic light after scattering. The spectrum of the scattered light gives clues about the molecular structure of the material under study, thereby helping to understand its properties.