Why the water, colourless in a glass, appears deep blue in an ocean?—asked and answered Sir CV Raman.
Born in 1888 in Tiruchirappalli, Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman was immersed into mathematics and physics under the influence of his lecturer-father. Academically bright, Raman won scholarships in school and a gold medal in physics from the Presidency College, Madras. He secured a distinction in the University of Madras and, in 1921, made his greatest scientific discovery during a defining ship journey.
Raman wondered, “Why is the sky blue?” His research on quantum nature of light was published in the Indian Journal of Physics, which he founded in 1926. He proved that diffraction of molecules of any medium—like air, water, etc.—causes light to shift its frequency. This causes light to scatter and makes the sky appear blue during daytime and red during sunrise. The National Science Day in India, celebrated on 28th February every year, commemorates this Raman Effect.
Keenly interested in music, Raman also investigated the harmonic nature of Indian drums. He established and chaired the Indian Academy of Sciences. In 1929, he was offered knighthood in Britain and in 1930, the Nobel Prize in Physics. Interestingly, he spent its prize money on purchasing and burning diamonds to learn why they scintillate. In 1954, Raman was conferred the Bharat Ratna.