|The Questioning Boy - The Great
Nature had always been a source of attraction right from his early
age to Bose. There are flowers on plants; flowers give fruits; the leaves fall off; seeds
germinate into new plants - we see all these around us.
But Bose was interested in these happenings, which to many people seem
quite ordinary. He asked others questions; he asked himself, too: 'How do these things
happen?' Not always could he satisfy his curiosity. But it was his way to try to find
answers to any questions arising in his mind.
We may consider here the more important of his discoveries. Plants
respond to stimulus from outside. We draw away hand when it touches fire. When it is
extremely cold we may even die. Plants also experience heat and cold in this way. This can
be measured with a thermometer. At 60 degrees Centigrade a plant will faint because of the
extreme heat and at very low temperatures it will react similarly to cold. Plants always
react to the rise or fall of temperature in the atmosphere around them. When heat or cold
is extreme, plants will faint or may even die. Bose had designed very delicate instruments
that could record even this. When a plant is hurt at one point, the shock of this is
transmitted to all the other parts and the whole plan gets tired and it bends down. Plants
grow every second by 1/50,000th of an inch! How is this to be measured - it is so very,
very, very small? Bose himself devised a delicate instrument, which could measure even
Plants do not grow in a perfect straight line. There are small twists
and turns, Why? The answer Bose found out is very interesting. He said, that plants have
positive and negative charges. If one of these pushes a part of the plant forward, the
other pushes it backward. The growth of the plant is affected by these pushes and it
becomes slightly curved instead of being straight. Plants grow towards light even when
kept in a dark place, why? The roots of plants always grow downwards, why? Bose found
answers to all these questions.
We all know that the lovely flower, the lotus, opens up as the sun
rises in the sky. When the sun sets the lotus closes its petals. The popular belief is
that this is because the lotus loves the sun. But Bose explained this peculiar behaviour
of the lotus. It opens when there is a raise in the temperature and closes as
thetemperature drops. The same is true of the sunflower. He called this peculiarity 'the
thirst for light'. The other peculiar thing he demonstrated was the way plants behave
differently at different times of the day. He established that from 6 in the morning to 3
o'clock in the afternoon the, plants behave in one way; and from 3 in the afternoon to 6
in the morning plants behave differently. As an example he choose a palm tree in Faridpur-
This palm in Faridpur would bend down every evening. The people of the
place had their own explanation. They believed that the soul of some holy man lived in the
tree. Every evening when the temple bells rang, this holy spirit bowed in devotion - this
was their belief. But Jagadishchandra Bose discovered the real cause. He gave a scientific
explanation. The tree bent down in the evening and raised itself in the morning because of
the tall and the rise in the temperature.
Water is very essential to plants. The root of the plant absorbs water.
But even without roots plants can take in water. This was demonstrated by Bose. He showed
that when the root is cut and the plant stem is placed in, water it starts taking in
water. Suppose you remove the plant from the soil, and place it upside down (with the
branches below and the roots above); what happens? The leaves and the stem absorb water.
Bose proved this by means of experiments.
The cells of a plant function like a man's heart. The heart contracts
and expands to pump blood; in the same way, the cells of a plant expand and contract.
This had to be proved by experiments. So, Bose himself devised a new
instrument; this could show how the cells worked.