20 October, 2020

The Da Vinci Coda

An elegant tribute to the protean Homi Bhabha: scientist, musician, institution-builder, patron of the arts

The Da Vinci Coda

When Homi J. Bhabha died in 1966, art aficionado and promoter R. van Leyden said, “India’s art world is orphaned”. I believe that Indian science and engineering were also orphaned. Dr C.V. Raman compared Bhabha to Leonardo da Vinci—a very, very appropriate parallel. He played the first violin in a philharmonic concert, was a cox at the Cambridge regatta, a set designer and painter for Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, a theoretical physicist with acknowledged contributions to the theory of cosmic rays, a pioneer in setting up indigenous capabilities in electronic instrumentation and charting the growth of electronics in India.

One of the best books on Homi Bhabha I’ve read is Bhabha and his Magnificent Obsessions (University Press, Hyderabad) by G. Venkataraman, a scientist at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Trombay. Venkataraman’s is a lucid yet cerebral masterpiece which depicts Bhabha’s scientific output in an engaging and engrossing way.




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