The Work of Louis Rota

Sir J.C. Bose and the Metal Response to Stimuli

1. Who is Sir  Jagadish Chandra Bose ?

Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose (1858,1937) is a Bengali scientific who pioneer in the investigation of radio and microwave optics before focusing his work on biology and making major discoveries in plant physiology.

He founded in 1917 the first modern  interdisciplinary research of India (the Bose Institute of Calcutta) and serves as its director until its death.

He is also considered as the founder of modern science in India.

1.1. Early Radio Research

After his graduations in England (1884), Bose returned to India and became Professor of Physics at the Presidency college in Calcutta while pursing scientific hobbies. A few years latter, he managed to set up in the college a tiny room equipped to study the radio-waves.  After a public demonstrations, he communicate  in 1895 his first scientific  paper in Bengal then a second one published by the Royal Society of London

He is invited tin 1896 to present his work in London, and  gave several conferences in Europe.

Bose's 60 GHz microwave

Here are some of his contributions to the radio development:

  • 1894 Public demonstration of micro-waves (60GHz):  rang electric bell at distance and ignite a small charge of gun powder. To do so, invented almost all the basic components of microwave systems – wave-guides, polarizers, horn antennas, dielectric lenses, parabolic reflectors, and attenuators. ,
  • 1898 Invention of the "iron-mercury-iron coherer with telephone detector" and test radio communication.  Bose was not interested of patented and let Marconi take credit for this invention that allowed to develop transatlantic communications.
  • 1901 Semi-conductor rectifier (use galena): the first use semiconductor junction for detecting radio waves.

1.2. A Switch to Biophysical research

J.C. Bose ended his European tour in 1897 and went back in India.  He was then a renowned scientist and probably the best,  if not the only one,  world expert in microwaves. However, Bose was more interested in researches in Plant Physiology and Electrophysiology and  focused his researches on how plant respond under environmental factors such as radio-waves, electricity, temperature, chemical, fatigue etc...

In 1900, he begins a new tour in Europe to present his revolutionary discoveries: the responses of plants to certain stimuli are similar to those observed in animal tissues. Despite the strong opposition of renowned biologists who questioned his discovery, Bose persevered in his research. For the next three decades he created original tools and experimentation that allowed him to make more fundamental discoveries on the physiology of plants.

In recognition for his discoveries, Bose was knighted by the British government in 1917 and elected as Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1920.

2. A Surprising Metal Response

There is no known direct connection between Louis Rota an Sir J.C Bose. Both were working on a different fields had a quite different scientific approach and personality.  However, they both worked somehow  on metal properties.

2.1 J.C. Bose "Response in living and Non-living"

J.C. Bose had noticed that his  metallic coherer (a radio waves detector) became less sensitive if used continuously, but returned to normal after a period of rest, much like us or living beings. To facilitate his research, he conceived very sensitive recorders to study the effect of different stimulus (temperature, electricity, fatigue...) on inorganic and living substances.

His first paper "On the Similarity of Effect of Electrical Stimulus on Inorganic and Living Substances" was published in 1900, followed in 1902 by his book "Response in the Living and Non-Living".

Fig. 113. Effect of a fatigue stimulus in muscle (A), in plant (P) and in metal (M)

Fig. 117. Abolition of response by the action of "poison".

Two examples of similarity of stimulus response in animal, plant and metal described in his book.

  • Fatigue (fig. 113)

"...these effects are primarily due to cumulative residual strains, and that a brief period of rest, by removing the overstrain, removes also the sign of fatigue."

  • Effect of chemical reagents (fig.117)

"... just as the response of animal tissue is exalted by stimulants, lowered by depressants, and abolished by poisons, so also we have found the response in plants and metals undergoing similar exaltation, depression, or abolition..."

2.2. Rota's metal blocks

The composition of the a Rota Block

Rota wrote
"I have come to discover and prove how, in placing a metal of whatsoever kind in direct and suitable presence of its own intrinsic current which gave to the metal its origin one succeeds in awakening the latent energy of this metal and consequently to have at our disposal immense free energy for all kinds of industry and its applications"

Unlike Sir J.C Bose, Louis Rota was very secretive and did not publish any true scientific paper.  We do have  some laboratory notes describing experiments,  but their interpretation is not straightforward.

The above  ground or underground blocks used by Rota are constructed of triplet sandwiches of different metals but we don't know why a different setting of the triplets will affect the properties of a block.


3. Any common ground with Rota's work ?

Sir J.C Bose made a surprising discovery about metal when studying the response of stimulus in metals. 

In working with receivers for electric waves, I found that under continuous stimulation by the oncoming message, the sensitiveness of the metallic detector disappeared. But after a sufficient period of rest it regained once more its normal sensitiveness. In taking records of successive responses, I was surprised to find that they were very similar to those exhibiting fatigue in the animal muscle. And just as animal tissue, after a period of rest, recovers its activity, so did the inorganic receiver recover after an interval of rest.

However, is focus was the living organisms, and he did not publish more paper about metal stimulus after 1902.

There a least one similarity between Bose and Rota findings: a block of metal can recover some properties after some "rest". Rota was burying block of metal for this purpose, but not in a random way: blocks were built according the places where they will be buried.

This brings up two questions:

  • Is there, today, a scientific explanation to all stimulus response in metal tested by Bose ?
  • If  no, Would it be possible to study the metal stimulus using the blocks built by Louis Rota ?

4. Notes

© 2022