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). Bhabha was also the founding director of the Atomic Energy Establishment, Trombay (AEET) which is now named the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in his honour. TIFR and AEET were the cornerstones of Indian development of nuclear weapons which Bhabha also supervised as director.
Bhabha was awarded the Padma Bhushan (1954). He was also nominated for the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1951 and 1953–1956. He excelled in his mathematical studies under Paul Dirac to complete the Mathematics Tripos.
He worked at the Cavendish Laboratory while working towards his doctorate in theoretical physics. At the time, the laboratory was the centre of some scientific breakthroughs. James Chadwick had discovered the neutron, John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton transmuted lithium with high-energy protons, and Patrick Blackett and Giuseppe Occhialini used cloud chambers to demonstrate the production of electron pairs and showers by gamma radiation.
During this time, nuclear physics was attracting the greatest minds and it was one of the most significant emerging fields as compared to theoretical physics, the opposition towards theoretical physics attacked the field because it was lenient towards theories rather than proving natural phenomenon through experiments. Conducting experiments on particles which also released enormous amounts of radiation, was a lifelong passion of Bhabha, and his leading-edge research and experiments brought great laurels to Indian physicists who particularly switched their fields to nuclear physics.
In January 1933, Bhabha received his doctorate in nuclear physics after publishing his first scientific paper, "The Absorption of Cosmic radiation."
In the publication, Bhabha offered an explanation of the absorption features and electron shower production in cosmic rays.
Bhabha is generally acknowledged as the father of Indian nuclear power. Moreover, he is credited with formulating a strategy of focussing on extracting power from the country's vast thorium reserves rather than its meagre uranium reserves. This thorium focused strategy was in marked contrast to all other countries in the world. The approach proposed by Bhabha to achieve this strategic objective became India's three-stage nuclear power programme.
Bhabha was killed 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 for the crash.
He was inspiration to all.