|Name:||Prafulla Chandra Ray|
|Birth Day:||August 2, 1861|
|Death Date:||Jun 16, 1944 (age 82)|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
Author of A History of Hindu Chemistry from the Earliest Times to the Middle of Sixteenth Century who is considered the father of Indian chemistry. Prafulla Chandra Ray founded the first Indian pharmacy: Bengal Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals.
As per our current Database, Prafulla Chandra Ray died on Jun 16, 1944 (age 82).
Prafulla Chandra Ray suffered from dysentery, which affected his health throughout his life.
In 1866, Ray began his education in the village school run by his father, and studied there until he was nine. After Ray's elder brother Jnanendra Chandra completed his middle school studies, his father elected to move the family to Calcutta, where centres of higher learning were more easily accessible. Thus in 1870 or 1871, when Ray was about 10, his family migrated to the city, where Harish Chandra rented a house at 132 Amherst Street. Ray was admitted to the Hare School the following year. In 1874, while Ray was in the fourth standard, he suffered a severe attack of dysentery and was consequently forced to postpone his studies and return to his ancestral home. He later considered this disruption in his studies as a blessing in disguise as it allowed him to read much more widely than what would have been possible within the constraints of school curricula. While convalescing, he read biographies, articles on science, Lethbridge's 'Selections from Modern English Literature' and Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield, among others. He also studied history, geography, Bengali literature, Greek, Latin, French and Sanskrit. Although he made a full recovery, he suffered residual bouts of indigestion and insomnia for the rest of his life.
After recovering from his illness, Ray returned to Calcutta in 1876 and was admitted to the Albert School, established by the Brahmo reformer Keshub Chandra Sen; owing to his concentrated self-study over the preceding two years, his teachers found him to have advanced much further than the rest of the students in his assigned class. During this period, he attended Sen's Sunday evening sermons and was deeply influenced by his Sulabha Samachar. In 1878, he passed the school's Entrance Examination (matriculation exams) with a First Division, and was admitted as an FA (First Arts) student to the Metropolitan Institution (later Vidyasagar College) which was established by Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. The English literature teacher at the Institution was Surendranath Banerjee, the prominent Indian nationalist and future president of the Indian National Congress, whose passionately held ideals including an emphasis on the value of service and the need to continually strive for India's rejuvenation left a definite and lasting impression on Ray, who took those values to heart. While deeply influenced by Sen, Ray preferred a more democratic environment than the mainstream Brahmo Samaj under Sen's guidance could provide; consequently, in 1879 he joined the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj, a more flexible offshoot of the original Samaj.
Though Ray had primarily focused on history and literature until this stage, chemistry was then a compulsory subject in the FA degree. As the Metropolitan Institution offered no facilities for science courses at the time, Ray attended physics and chemistry lectures as an external student at the Presidency College. He was especially drawn to the chemistry courses taught by Alexander Pedler, an inspiring lecturer and experimentalist who was among the earliest research chemists in India. Soon captivated by experimental science, Ray decided to make chemistry his career, as he recognised that his country's future would greatly depend on her progress in science. His passion for experimentation led him to set up a miniature chemistry laboratory at a classmate's lodgings and reproducing some of Pedler's demonstrations; on one occasion, he narrowly escaped injury when a faulty apparatus exploded violently. He passed the FA exam in 1881 with a second division, and was admitted to the BA (B-course) degree of the University of Calcutta as a chemistry student, with a view towards pursuing higher studies in the field. Having learnt Latin and French in addition to achieving a "fair mastery" of Sanskrit, a compulsory subject at the FA level, Ray applied for a Gilchrist Prize Scholarship while studying for his BA examination; the scholarship required a knowledge of at least four languages. After an all-India competitive examination, Ray won one of the two scholarships, and enrolled as a BSc. student at the University of Edinburgh without completing his original degree. He sailed for the United Kingdom in August 1882, aged 21.
At Edinburgh, Ray began his chemistry studies under Alexander Crum Brown and his demonstrator John Gibson, a former student of Brown's who had also studied under Robert Bunsen at the University of Heidelberg. He received his BSc. in 1885. During his student years at Edinburgh, Ray continued to nurture his strong interests in history and political science, reading works by prominent authors including Rousselet's L'Inde des Rajas, Lanoye's L'Inde contemporaine, Revue dex deux mondes. He also read Fawcett's book on political economy and Essays on Indian Finance. In 1885, he entered an essay competition held by the university for the best essay on "India before and after the Mutiny." His submission, which was strongly critical of the British Raj and warned the British government of the consequences of its reactionary attitudes, was nonetheless assessed as one of the best entries and was highly praised by William Muir, the recently appointed Principal of the University and a former lieutenant-governor of the North-Western Provinces in India. Ray's essay was widely publicised in Britain, with The Scotsman observing "It contains information in reference to India which will not be found elsewhere, and is deserving of the utmost notice." A copy of the paper was read by the distinguished orator and Liberal Member of Parliament for Birmingham John Bright; Bright's sympathetic reply to Ray was published in leading newspapers across Britain under the title "John Bright's Letter to an Indian Student." The following year, Ray published his paper as a booklet entitled "Essay on India," which likewise earned its author wide attention in British political circles.
For some years, science had recognised numerous double sulfates (then also known as "vitriols") occurred in nature as mineral salts. The natural combination of sulfates of bivalent metals with monovalent metal sulfates in a 1:1 ratio results in the formation of double sulfates chemically distinct from their original constituent species. By the 1850s, a number of double sulfates had been artificially synthesized, including ammonium iron(II) sulfate or "Mohr's salt" by Karl Friedrich Mohr. Some chemists, including one Vohl, subsequently claimed to have isolated numerous double-double and multiple-double sulfates including supposed "triple-double," and "quadruple-double" structures. These were purportedly the result of two double sulfates of Type I (differing in the bivalent metal Mb) combining in definite integral proportions to yield new molecular double salts. Others who had attempted to reproduce those experiments reported their inability to do so. Prior to Ray's taking up the problem, in 1886, Percival Spencer Umfreville Pickering and Emily Aston had concluded in their paper that double-double and higher-order sulfate salts did not exist as definite structures, deeming Vohl's experimental findings inexplicable. While Ray noted such findings placed Vohl's research in doubt, he reasoned "the position was unclear and further research was called for."
Ray was awarded the Hope Prize which allowed him to work on his research for a further period of one year after completion of his doctorate. His thesis title was "Conjugated Sulphates of the Copper-magnesium Group: A Study of Isomorphous Mixtures and Molecular Combinations". While a student he was elected Vice-President of the University of Edinburgh Chemical Society in 1888.
Around 1895 Prafulla Chandra started his work in the field of discovering nitrite chemistry which turned out to be extremely effective. In 1896, he published a paper on preparation of a new stable chemical compound: mercurous nitrite. This work made way for a large number of investigative papers on nitrites and hyponitrites of different metals, and on nitrites of ammonia and organic amines. He and his students had crumbled this field for several years, leading to a long discipline of research laboratories. Prafulla Chandra said that it was a new chapter in life that started with the unanticipated discovery of mercurous nitrite. Prafulla Chandra, in 1896, noticed the formation of a yellow crystalline solid with the reaction of mercury and dilute nitric acid.
This result was first published in the Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal. That was forthwith noticed by Nature magazine on May 28, 1896.
In 1902, he published the first volume of A History of Hindu Chemistry from the Earliest Times to the Middle of Sixteenth Century. The second volume was published in 1909. The work was result of many years' search through ancient Sanskrit manuscripts and through works of orientalists.
On a conference of the Chemical Society in London, he submitted the result. Nobel laureate William Ramsay congratulated him for his achievement. On August 15, 1912, Nature magazine published the news of 'ammonium nitrite in tangible form' and the determination of the vapour density of 'this very fugitive salt'. The Journal of Chemical Society, London published the experimental details in the same year.
Prafulla Chandra retired from the Presidency College in 1916, and joined the Calcutta University College of Science (also known as Rajabazar Science College) as its first "Palit Professor of Chemistry", a chair named after Taraknath Palit. Here also he got a dedicated team and he started working on compounds of gold, platinum, iridium etc. with mercaptyl radicals and organic sulphides. A number of papers were published on this work in the Journal of the Indian Chemical Society.
He donated money regularly towards welfare of Sadharan Brahmo Samaj, Brahmo Girls' School and Indian Chemical Society. In 1922, he donated money to establish Nagarjuna Prize to be awarded for the best work in chemistry. In 1937, another award, named after Ashutosh Mukherjee, to be awarded for the best work in zoology or botany, was established from his donation.
In 1923, Northern Bengal suffered a flood which made millions of people homeless and hungry. Prafulla Chandra organised Bengal Relief Committee, which collected nearly 2.5 million rupees in cash and kind and distributed it in the affected area in an organised manner.
He started a new Indian School of Chemistry in 1924. Ray was president of the 1920 session of the Indian Science Congress.
He contributed articles in Bengali to many monthly magazines, particularly on scientific topics. He published the first volume of his autobiography Life and Experience of a Bengali Chemist in 1932, and dedicated it to the youth of India. The second volume of this work was issued in 1935.
In 1936, at the age of 75, he retired from active service and became Professor Emeritus. Long before that, on the completion of his 60th year in 1921, he made a free gift of his entire salary to the Calcutta University from that date onward, to be spent for the furtherance of chemical research, and the development of the Department of Chemistry in the University College of Science.
Prafulla Chandra Ray and his older brother both attended Hare School.
Currently, Prafulla Chandra Ray is 159 years, 7 months and 7 days old. Prafulla Chandra Ray will celebrate 160th birthday on a Monday 2nd of August 2021. Below we countdown to Prafulla Chandra Ray upcoming birthday.