Homi Jehangir Bhabha (30 October 1909 – 24 January 1966) was an Indian nuclear physicist, founding director, and professor of physics at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR). He was also the founding director of the Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay (AEET) which is now named the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), in 1966, in his honor.
He was Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) during 1948-1966.
Homi J. Bhabha was born on 30 October, 1909. His father was Jehangir Hormunsji Bhabha, a well known Parsi lawyer and his mother was Meheren.
He received his early studies at Bambay’s (now Mumbai) Cathedral and John Connon School and entered Elphinstone College at age 15.
He then attended the Royal Institute of Science until 1927 before joining Caius College of Cambridge University.
In January, Bhabha received his doctorate in nuclear physics after publishing his first scientific paper, “The Absorption of Cosmic Radiation“. The paper helped him win the Isaac Newton Studentship in 1934, which he held for the next three years. The following year, he completed his doctoral studies in theoretical physics under Ralph H. Fowler.
In 1935, Bhabha published a paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series A, in which he performed the first calculation to determine the cross-section of electron-positron scattering. Electron-positron scattering was later renamed Bhabha Scattering, in honor of his contributions in the field.
In September 1939, Bhabha was in India for a brief holiday when World War II started, and he decided not to return to England for the time being. He accepted an offer to serve as the Reader in the Physics Department of the Indian Institute of Science, then headed by renowned physicist C. V. Raman. He received a special research grant from the Sir Dorab Tata Trust, which he used to establish the Cosmic Ray Research Unit at the Institute. Bhabha selected a few students, including Harish-Chandra, to work with him. Later, on 20 March 1941, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. With the help of J. R. D. Tata, he played an instrumental role in the establishment of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai. TIFR was inaugurated in 1945. When Bhabha realized that technology development for the atomic energy programme could no longer be carried out within TIFR he proposed to the government to build a new laboratory entirely devoted to this purpose. For this purpose, 1200 acres of land was acquired at Trombay from the Bombay Government. Thus the Atomic Energy Establishment Trombay (AEET) started functioning in 1954. The same year the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) was also established.
Bhabha is generally acknowledged as the father of Indian nuclear power.
Homi J. Bhabha died when Air India Flight 101 crashed near Mont Blanc on 24 January 1966. Misunderstanding between Geneva Airport and the pilot about the aircraft position near the mountain is the official reason of the crash.
After his death, the Atomic Energy Establishment at Bombay was renamed as the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in his honour.