Not Only Smashing Atoms: Meghnad Saha and Nuclear Physics in Calcutta, 1938–48

Jahnavi Phalkey*

In 1938, Meghnad Saha (1892–1956) sent his young student Basanti Dulal Nagchoudhuri (1917–2005, henceforth Nag) to the University of California Berkeley, the ‘Mecca of cyclotroneering’. Nag was to read for a doctoral degree in nuclear physics, but more importantly, learn the intricacies of building and running a cyclotron and return to India to establish a particle accelerator facility. Meghnad Saha, an astrophysicist renowned for his work on thermal ionization, and Palit Professor of physics at the University College of Science, Calcutta (USC), was to lead the attempts to build the very first cyclotron for nuclear physics research and ...

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