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  Meghnad Saha

Name Professor M Saha
(Professor Meghnad Saha)
  Gender M
Birth 1893-10-06
Specialization Theory of Thermal Ionization; Statistical Mechanics; Atomic and Molecular Spectroscopy
  Year of Election  
  Demise 16-02-1956

Meghnad Saha did his DSc (1918) from University of Calcutta. He held key positions as Khaira Professor of Physics, University of Calcutta (1921-23; 1938-53); Professor and Head, Physics Department, University of Allahabad; and Honorary Director for Life, Institute of Nuclear Physics (now Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics), Kolkata.

Academic and Research Achievements: Saha would be remembered for ever for his theory of thermal ionization and its application to the interpretation of stellar spectra in terms of the physical conditions prevailing in the stellar atmospheres. Apart from astrophysics, the theory found numerous other important applications such as to the study of the ionosphere, conductivity of flames, electric arcs and explosion phenomena. He initiated and organized research in several subjects such as statistical mechanics, atomic and molecular spectroscopy, experiments on thermal ionization and electron affinity of electronegative elements. The equation that now goes by his name was called `equation of the reaction isobar for ionization’ by him. His researches in astrophysics and physics spanned over a wide range: stellar spectra, thermal ionization, selective radiation pressure, spectroscopy, molecular dissociation propagation of radio waves in the ionosphere, solar corona, radio emission from the Sun, beta radioactivity, and the age of rocks. He co-authored two books: Principles of Relativity (1919), and A Textbook of Heat (1931) which became a classic; and founded the journal Science & Culture.

Other Contributions: Saha established Physics Department of the University of Allahabad as one of the active centers of research. He was Chairman, Indian Calender Reforms Committee of CSIR; and also Member of the University Education Commission. He also became Member of Parliament (1951). Meghnad Saha was actively involved in the establishment of INSA.

Awards and Honours: Professor Saha was President of the Indian Science Congress (1934). He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of London; President, Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS); First Director of Laboratories of IACS; also President, National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad (1932-34), Asiatic Society (1944-46), and INSA (1937-38).

The Indian National Science Academy has instituted `Meghnad Saha Medal’ in his honour.

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