Professor Ruchi Ram Sahni (1863-1948): A scientific biography

Rajesh Kochhar
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali 140306, Punjab

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Physics News 2013, Vol.43, No. 1 (Jan.) pp.19-35

Professor Ruchi Ram Sahni (1863-1948) whose 150th birth anniversary falls this year was the first Indian officer in the India Meteorological Department (1885-1887) and the first Indian professor of science (physics and chemistry) in his alma mater the Government College Lahore where he served for 30 long years (1887-1918). He was India’s first nuclear scientist who spent  about a year during 1914-1915 as a guest researcher in Ernst Rutherford’s laboratory in Manchester where he had young Niels Bohr for scientific company. Ruchi Ram published two well regarded papers on radioactivity in 1915 and 1917 in the Philosophical Magazine.

Ruchi Ram was a friend of, and advisor to, the wealthy  philanthropist Dyal Singh Majithia (1848-1898), with the reformist
Bengal-born Brahmo Samaj serving as a unifying bond. When Dyal Singh College was established in Lahore in 1910, Ruchi Ram became its Trustee in accordance with the provisions of the benefactor’s will. His formal association with the nationalist newspaper The Tribune had to wait for his retirement from government service; he served on its Trust from 1918 till his death in 1948.

 

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