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#WomenInScience #SheDared

The history of science has often seen the contributions of women being overlooked. This #WomensDay, we are paying a tribute to unsung Indian women who blazed new trails in science.

THREAD: Bibha Chowdhury, India's unsung pioneer in particle physics.
1/ Born in 1913, Bibha was supposedly India's first woman researcher.

Yet, neither does the name of this gifted physicist surface in any book on inspiring Indian women, nor is she mentioned amongst various lists of Indian pioneers in the history of science. #WomensDay
2/ Bibha also did not win any national award or receive a fellowship from a renowned scientific society during her lifetime.

And yet, in 1949, she was handpicked by none other than Homi Bhabha to join the newly established Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai.
3/ The reason, you ask? Because in 1939-40, Bibha had been the first in the world to discover a new sub-atomic particle, the pi-meson (pion).
4/ In an age when accelerators were unknown, Bibha and her mentor, Debendra Mohan Bose, meticulously carried out a series of studies at the high altitudes of Darjeeling and Sandakphu to discover the hitherto hypothetical cosmic ray particle.
5/ Tragically, Bibha and Bose had to give up their experiments due to a lack of high-quality photo plates during World War II.

Seven years later, CF Powell made the same discovery of pions — using the same technique but high quality photo plates —and won the Nobel Prize in 1950
6/ In fact, Powell would go on to acknowledge Bose and Chowdhuri's pioneering contribution in his work.

And yet few Indians know about the pioneering woman, who remained a tireless researcher till she died, unsung and unheralded, in Calcutta in 1991.

It's time this changed.
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