Bibhas R. De

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For more information on Bibhas De, please visit the Home page.


(Family members, friends, acquaintances and visitors from my storytelling/literary sites may wish to go to THE EMBELLISHED VERSION!)

B. Sc. (Honors in Physics), Presidency College, Univ. of Calcutta (1967)
M. S. (Astronomy; Radioastronomy), Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (1970)
Ph. D. (Applied Physics), Univ. of California, San Diego (1973)


Book published 27 March 2015. Click to see details.


Book published 1 August 2016. Click to see details.




Final Report on Big Bang Cosmology

Final Report on Big Bang Cosmology
[Click on image to see the report, prepared for general public]


Myself when young....

Bibhas De
(Photo: John Henley)

                                                      Myself when young did eagerly frequent

                                                      Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument

                                                        About it and about: but evermore

                                                      Came out by the same Door as in I went.

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam








Click on the following graphic to see how I saved the World from scamming intellectuals!
(Read how my allegation - ignored by the scientific establishment and the Swedish Nobel Foundation - was decisively acted on by two NASA Administrators who report directly to the President of the United States.)



(Plasma Physics, Astrophysics)

Univ. of Calif., San Diego     NASA Johnson Space Center

(Satellite Communication)




LEFT: Bibhas De at Scientific-Atlanta, then (~1980) a major manufacturer of Satellite Communication Earth Stations; RIGHT: one of the antenna engineering projects: Automatic Tracking Antenna. Other projects included LANDSAT D and INTELSAT IVA Earth Stations.


L. to R.: Bibhas De at Chevron with Mike Nelson; one of the patents by Bibhas R. De and Michael A. Nelson; the prototype invention.

At Chevron, an improvised antenna range for measuring pattern of antennas as integral part of an instrument.

Field testing of an antenna device at Chevron

"My card!" Souvenirs from my working days in the industry.


( each indicates a proposed fundamental discovery in physics)

1. G. ARRHENIUS, B. R. DE & H. ALFVEN: Origin of the Ocean. The Sea 5, 839-861, 1973.

(This work is cited in Encyclopedia Britannica)

Origin of the Ocean
[Click for larger image]

2. B. R. DE: On the Mechanism of Formation of Loop Prominences. Solar Physics 31, 437-447, 1973.

Theory of formation of solar loop prominences

3. G. ARRHENIUS & B. R. DE: Equilibrium Condensation in a Solar Nebula. Meteoritics 8, 297-313, 1973.

4. B. R. DE: Some Astrophysical Problems involving Plasmas and Plasma-Solid Systems. Ph. D. Thesis, Univ. of California, San Diego, 1973.

Online copy (pdf 2.8 MB)

5. B. R. DE: Electric Potential on Solid Spheres in a Plasma. Astrophysics and Space Science 30, 135-147, 1974.

6. B. R. DE: Surface Density of Accumulated Electrons on Walls in Contact with a Plasma. Astrophysics and Space Science 35, L17- L19, 1975.

7. B. R. DE: Origin of the Solar System: Problems and Perspectives. Bulletin of the Astronomical Society of India 3, 44-49, 1975.

8. B. R. DE: Criterion for Propagation of Magnetohydrodynamic Waves: An Equivalence. Astrophysics and Space Science 33, 235- 237, 1975.

9. B. R. DE: A Comment on the Damping of Magnetohydrodynamic Waves. Astrophysics and Space Science 39, L43-L46, 1976; Follow-ups: Reply to D. J. Mullan, 44, L13, 1976; Corrigendum. 47, 457-458, 1977.

10. B. R. DE: Some Modifications of the Theory of Colloidal Plasmas. Journal of Physics D 9, 2317-2325, 1976.

11. B. R. DE, H. ALFVEN & G. ARRHENIUS: The Critical Velocity Phenomenon and the Origin of the Regular Satellites. In Planetary Satellites (J. A. Burns, Ed., Univ. of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ), 472-490, 1977.

An example of Hannes Alfven's remarkable scientific intuition is demonstrated in the above diagram. He noted that there are three systems in nature where secondary bodies orbit around a central body: The planets around the sun; the satellites around a planet; and electrons around a nucleus. He identified a physical parameter that describes each system. Then he found that in the cosmically abundat elements, this parameter shows a "band structure" – or a bunching into groups (the middle wedge in the above diagram; the white portions are the groups.) When he plotted the same parameter for satellites around a planet, there was a corresponding bunching (the left wedge.) When plotted it for the planets around the sun, the same bunching again (the right wedge.)
Why so? Alfven theorized an effect, and it was later experimentally verified. It is called the Critical Ionization Velocity Effect.

12. B. R. DE & D. R. CRISWELL: Intense Localized Photoelectric Charging in the Lunar Sunset Terminator Region, Part I: Development of Potentials and Fields. Journal of Geophysical Research (Space Physics) 83, 999-1004, 1977.

13. D. R. CRISWELL & B. R. DE: Intense Localized Photoelectric Charging in the Lunar Sunset Terminator Region, Part II: Supercharging at the Progression of Sunset. Journal of Geophysical Research (Space Physics) 82, 1005-1007, 1977.

14. B. R. DE & D. R. CRISWELL: Photoelectric Charging of Localized Sunlit Areas on Shadowed Surfaces. In Proceedings of the Spacecraft Charging Technology Conference (C. P. Pike & R. R. Lovell, Eds.), Air Force Surveys in Geophysics No. 364 (AFGL-TR- 77-0051, NASA-TMX-73537), 413-420, 1977.

15. B. R. DE: Temperature of Solid Particles in Colloidal Plasmas in Space. Proceedings of the 8th Lunar Science Conference (Pergamon Press, New York), 79-86, 1977.

16. B. R. DE: On the Comparison between the Equilibrium and Disequilibrium Condensation Sequences of Meteorites. Proceedings of the 8th Lunar Science Conference (Pergamon Press, New York), 87-93, 1977.

17. B. R. DE: A 1972 Prediction of Uranian Rings based on the Alfven Critical Velocity Effect. The Moon and the Planets 18, 339-342, 1978.

(Prediction of the Rings of Uranus five years prior to their discovery. Read an account of this by the renowned physics historian Stephen G. Brush)

From The Irish Astronomical Journal,, vol. 13, no. 1/2, 1977, p. 48

18. B. R. DE & L. J. SRNKA: An Effect of Nuclear Electric Quadrupole Moments in Thermonuclear Fusion Plasmas. Plasma Physics 20, 503-510, 1978. .

Suggestion of how fusion energy barrier can be lowered for nuclei with quadrupole moment.
Full paper

19. L. J. SRNKA & B. R. DE: Spin-related Magnetism of Inter-stellar Grains. Astrophysical Journal 225, 422-426, 1978.

20. B. R. DE & G. ARRHENIUS: Colloidal Plasmas in Space: Some Aspects of Condensation and Growth of Solids. Advances in Colloid and Interface Sciences 10, 253-283, 1979.

21. B. R. DE: Disequilibrium Condensation Environments in Space: A Frontier in Thermodynamics. Astrophysics and Space Science 65, 191-198, 1979.

(The concept of Prigogine Dissipative Structures as applied to the space environment. See a discussion in the magazine EOS, vol. 81, no. 36, September 5, 2000)

Disequilibrium condensation in a space environment.
[Click for larger image]

22. B. R. DE: Conductor-like Behavior of a Photoemitting Dielectric Surface. Journal of Geophysical Research (Space Physics) 84, no. A6, 2655-2656, 1979.

23. B. R. DE: Nucleation of Electrically Charged Droplets. Journal of Chemical Physics 70(04), 2046-2047, 1979.

24. B. R. DE: Magnetohydroelectric Waves in a Fluid Dielectric. Physics of Fluids 22(1), 189-190, 1979.

Universal wave velocity in a magnatized medium

25. B. R. DE: Hydromagnetic Interaction in a Fluid Dielectric. Astrophysics and Space Science 62, 255-258, 1979.

26. B. R. DE & G. ARRHENIUS (Editors): Thermodynamics and Kinetics of Dust Formation in the Space Medium (D. Reidel Publishing Co., Dordrecht-Holland, Special Issue of Astrophysics and Space Science 65, September, 1979).

27. B. R. DE: On the Realizability of Magnetohydroelectric Interaction. Physics of Fluids 23(2), 408-409, 1980.

28. B. R. DE: Measurement of Broadband Dielectric Properties of Brine-saturated Rocks. Log Analyst 27, no. 2, 63-71, 1986.

(See also author's patent)

29. D. STROUD, G. W. MILTON & B. R. DE: Analytical Model for the Dielectric Response of Brine-saturated Rocks. Physical Review B 34, no. 8-I, 5145-5153, 1986.

30. B. R. DE: The Dielectric Analog of Magnetohydrodynamics. Astrophysics and Space Science 144, 99-104, 1988.


31. C-G. FALTHAMMAR, G. ARRHENIUS, B. R. DE, N. HERLOFSON, D. A. MENDIS & Z. KOPAL (Editors): Plasma and the Universe.(Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, Holland, 1988; Special Issue of Astrophysics and Space Science 144, nos. 1/2,1988).

32. B. R. DE, I. H. H. ZABEL, D. STROUD & M. A. NELSON: Optical Analog of the Permeability of Sandstones. Physical Review B 45, 196-204,1992.

(See also author's patent)

The idea of optical permeability of porous media, first introduced by me, has now been gainfully employed in the industry. Needless to say, no acknowledgement is made to my work.

33. B. R. DE & M. A. NELSON: Ultrabroadband Electromagnetic Well Logging: A Potential Future Technology. Transactions of the SPWLA Thirty-third Annual Logging Symposium, Paper A, 1992.

(See also author's patent)

34. B. R. DE & D. STROUD: Light Propagation in Porous Media. In Photonic Band Gaps and Localization, C. M. Soukoulis, ed., Plenum Press, New York, 1993. Proceedings of NATO Advanced Research Workshop, Crete, Greece, May 26-30, 1992.

In a porous medium, an analogy can be drawn between propagation of fluid (permeability K_f) and propagation of light (permeability K_opt).

35. B. R. DE: Vacuum Electromagnetic Interaction. Journal of Physics A: Mathematical & General 26, 7583-7588, 1993.


36. B. R. DE: Transformation of Magnetostatic Energy. Journal of Physics A: Mathematical & General 27, L431-L433, 1994.

37. B. R. DE: A New Mode of Radio Communication. Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics 27, 2448-2452, 1994.

A symbolic description of a new mode of electromagnetic propagation: The Electromagnetic Companion Wave.

38. B. R. DE: Gravitational Mass of Magnetostatic Field. Asrtrophysics and Space Science 239, 25-33, 1996.

39. B. R. DE: The Missed Physics of Source-free Magnetic Field. Journal of Theoretics.

40. B. R. De: Source-free Magnetic Structures. Journal of Theoretics.

The structure and the mass of the photon as described by Bibhas De


(Click on the number to see the patent)

B. R. DE & D. A. KEECH: Method and Apparatus for Interface Location Determination. U. S. Patent 4,831,331 issued May 16, 1989. Foreign patents.

B. R. DE: Sample Accommodator and Method for the Measurement of Dielectric Properties. U. S. Patent 4,866,371 issued Sep. 12, 1989.

B. R. DE, P. L. DONOHO, D. E. REVUS & R. E. BOYER: Microwave System for Monitoring Water Content in a Petroleum Pipeline. U. S. Patent 4,902,961 issued Feb. 20, 1990.

B. R. DE & M. A. NELSON: Method and Apparatus for Combined Dielectric and Resistivity Oil Well Logging over a Wide Range of Frequencies. U. S. Patent 5,132,623 issued July 21, 1992.

Ibid - Foreign patents

B. R. DE & M. A. NELSON: Method and Apparatus for Broadband Measurement of Dielectric Properties (C. I. P). Patents pending

B. R. DE & M. A. NELSON: Method and Apparatus for Broadband Electromagnetic Energy Coupling. U. S. Patent allowed.


B. R. DE, M. A. NELSON & K. K. PANDE: Method and Apparatus for Imaging Porous Media and Method for Fabricating Novel Optical Materials. U. S. Patent 5,146,086 issued September 8, 1992. Foreign patent pending.

B. R. DE, M. A. NELSON & K. K. PANDE: Optical Imaging of Porous Media. (C. I. P). Patent pending.

B. R. DE & D. A. KEECH: Null Balance Well Logging in Hydrocarbon Contaminated Groundwater. Canadian Patent 1,319,953, issued July 6, 1993; Canadian Patent 1,324,202 issued November 9, 1993.




Bibhas De's poetry book: On Grunion Shore


Bibhas De's poetry book: In Winter Once


(Free online poetry eBook)


Selected poems and prose


(Free online eBook on Great Uncle Swami Gambhirananda, noted Hindu monk)


Bibhas De's book on spirituality: FOOTFALLS...
(New book on Swami Gambhirananda, October 2008)


Adventure stories by Bibhas De
(Free online collection of stories)


Adventure stories by Bibhas De, Vol. 2
(Free online collection of stories)


Adventure stories by Bibhas De
Book published 12 May 2011


Bibhas De's blog: THE DREAMHERON DIARIES - Sapnasaraser Dinapanji

(Blog - Miscellany)


A mystery-adventure by Bibhas De

(Free eBook -An original mystery-adventure set in British India)



(For readers of my stories, mystery book, poetry etc)

.               "For always roaming with a hungry heart
.               Much have I seen and known--cities of men
.               And manners, climates, councils, governments,
.               Myself not least, but honored of them all - "

Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Silchar, Assam


The town of Silchar [Wikipedia photo - click to see larger version]

Map of old Silchar - sketched from the author's memory. The legend (A, B, C...) is for showing the milieu of the stories in my book EMBELLISHED MEMORIES: Bengali Adventures.

I grew up in the town of Silchar, in the rugged eastern frontierland of India. This small town, or an overgrown village, is tucked neatly within the U-shaped bend in the river Barak. You could walk the entire length and the breadth of the town. It had most everything big cities had: Three movie halls, a stadium, fairgrounds, airport, temples, mosques... There was even an annual fair called the Gandhi Mela which lasted for several days.

Abhayacharan Bhattacharya Pathshala in Silchar, and my brother Bijoy posing in a classroom when we visited decades after we once sat in these classrooms.

I studied in a quintessential village school called Abhayacharan Bhattacharya Pathshala. It was a rustic village hut with the classrooms in a row, each with minimal wood desks and benches. It remained almost the same when I visited decades later. Even the furniture was probably the same.

Two views of the Narsing High School, Silchar, in the early Nineteen Eighties.

From there I moved to Narsing High School. This was a very colorful childhood. Many of the stories I have written emanate from this period. The High School, comprising mostly of Hindu students, had a number of Moslem teachers: Monohar Ali, Basrat Ali, Jamshed Ali... Our science teacher was the most inspiring Satyendra Nath Chowdhury whose son Soumyendra was my classmate.

   Kabindra Purkayastha, Member of the Indian Parliament

Kabindra Purkayashtha is the only teacher from my Narsing School days whose photograph I have been able to find (Government of India photo.) He was a fine teacher. But beyond this, he engaged students in extracurricular activities, such as putting on performances (poetry recitation etc.) Privately, he used to run something of a boys' club. After school, the boys in this club gathered in some playfield, with long sticks. They then drilled in neat rows, military fashion. The club was called Sangha. They had their own military commands (Daksha = Attention!, Aa-rama = Stand at ease! etc.) These were actually the beginnings of one of today's strongest political parties in India, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP.) Kabindra Babu - as we used to call him - in time became a member of the Indian Parliament.

Kanai Lal Banik (with glasses) and family of Silchar

Subhas Chandra Mohanta (in half sleeves) and wife of Silchar
In the mid-1980s I visited Silchar for the first time as an adult, and caught up with two of my friends (and their families) from Narsing High School: Kanai Lal Banik and Subhas Chandra Mohanta

Narendrapur, West Bengal

I then studied at the Narendrapur Ramakrishna Mission Residential School, on the southern edge of Kolkata. It was run by the monks of the Order of Sri Ramakrishna, a great Hindu ascetic. Later, my brothers Biman and Basab would also study here. My great uncle was a monk of the Ramakrishna Mission. He, Swami Gambhirananda, would later become the President of the worldwide Order. He was also a great scholar, and wrote many books on varied scriptural subjects.

Swami Gambhirananda, erstwhile President of the Ramakrishna Mission/Vedanta Society.

The education complex at Narendrapur - today considered one of the finest in India - was the brainchild of Swami Lokeswarananda. I came to know him during a time when Narendrapur was still a fledgling institution, and he was still readily accessible.

Swami Lokeswarananda and his brainchild, Narendrapur Ramakrishna Mission School.

Swami Asaktananda (who was the head of the education complex at Narendrapur when he passed away in 2009; shown here when he was a monk in the Vedanta Society Center in Hollywood) and Swami Prabhananda (currently the Chief Executive of Ramakrishna Mission; Belur Math photo) were the two successive Headmasters of the high school when I studied there. In those days students got to know the Headmaster quite well, as did I. I was immensely fortunate to not only have their valuable mentorship but also their genuine affection.

Swami Prabhananda
In November 2010, I am standing behind Srimat Swami Prabhanandaji Maharaj, Chief Executive of the Ramakrishna Mission, in his office. The man who runs a far-flung, worldwide, multi-faceted organization works from the simplest and barest of offices. This is also where my great-uncle Swami Gambhirananda once sat.

Later I would learn that my father-in-law, Dr. Pulin Behari Sarkar, a noted Indian scientist, scientific leader (head of a National Laboratory) and educator, and his wife Kamala Sarkar, a Mathematics graduate and Gold Medalist, were benefactors of Narendrapur in its fledgling days. Without their generosity which they wanted kept out of public view, this institution might not have been. Swami Lokeswarananda became a family friend of the Sarkars, a friendship that lasted for deacdes.

A young Dr. Pulin Behari Sarkar, his wife Kamala Sarkar and their daughter Gopa

A few of the numerous textbooks in Organic Chemistry by Dr. P. B. Sarkar. Generations of science students in India and the neighboring countries were raised on these.

Indian physicist Meghnad Saha was a mentor to my father-in-law Dr. P. B. Sarkar, and a family friend to my in-laws.

This old and crumbling photo of Dr. Pulin Behari Sarkar and colleagues at the Vidyasagar College, Calcutta, is of historical interest. It shows some of the prominent academics in the Chemistry scene in pre-independence Bengal who would provide leadership in an independent India.

This 1957 letter (in Bengali) from Swami Lokeswarananda to Dr. P. B. Sarkar and Kamala Sarkar was the starting point of a decades-long giving program by the couple to the education complex at Narendrapur. Here Swami Lokeswarananda says that the survival of the institue was uncertain and that they were worried about this; the financial support would help alleviate this situation. Additional donations were given to other centers of the Ramakrishna Mission. The couple wished their giving to be kept private. But now that they are gone, it is appropriate to place in public view their example.

An excerpt from the book FOOTFALLS: Swami Gambhirananda and other journeys [CORRECTION 02/20/2020: I apologize misremembering the teacher's full name. It has been pointed out to me that the correct name was Sudhindra Kumar Barman.]

To do justice to the very fine teachers I had in Narendrapur, it would take an entire book. Suffice it to say that they were, each in his own way, dedicated to not only teaching their own subjects, but also to teaching, period. One of these teachers, Basudeb Barman, later became a Member of the Indian Parliament. Another teacher, Asim Roy, made quite a name for himself as a historian.

My encounter with Satyendra Nath Bose:
It would be unfair to suggest that the great man meant to discourage. According to Dr. Dipak Nandy Majumdar, then my classmate and now a physician in Swindon UK, who had the exhibit next on Bose's agenda, Bose was overheard talking to the head of our institution (a monk) accompanying him about me. Here Dipak in his own words:
I could very well remember that when he (Bose) came to my station ( I was demonstrating how to make Iodex..pain killing ointment) which was just after visiting your station ..he was telling Maharaj "Swamiji please look after him (about you). He is very bright and extraordinary."

Of the students in the school within a few years of me, there were a number of interesting ones. There was a Santhal student named Sonaram Tudu who taught me some Santhal words. There was a blind student named Manindra Sarkar who could identify you (out of possible hundreds of people) by simply touching your arm. There were two brothers - twins - spitting images of each other. Personally, the only way I could tell the difference is that one face seemed to have a little of hard edge to it. There was only one Moslem student then, Shamsuddin Laskar, with whom I once shared a room. There was a child actor named Param Bhattarak Lahiri. There was someone from the Tagore family. It seems, however, that monks of the institution are most proud of one alumnus of the school in particular: The World-renowned financier Purnendu Chatterjee.

A class photo from Narendrapur School (courtesy: Benoy Bala). L. to R.: Bibhas De, unidentified student, Headmaster Brahmachari Girishchaitanya (who would later become Swami Prabhananda), Benoy Ranjan Bala and Udit Bhanu Dasgupta.

Narendrapur school prayer. Here "both" refers to the teacher and the student.


Calcutta (Kolkata)

[Courtesy: Presidency College]

Eden Hindu Hostel, Kolkata

My college education took place at the Presidency College, Kolkata where my father had studied earlier. I stayed at the Eden Hindu Hostel across the street from the College, where my father had stayed earlier.

So I got to live right in the heart of Calcutta - within walking distance of such happening places as Esplanade and the Maidan and Bowbazar and Sealdah and so on. To go to classes, I merely had to cross a street! For lunch breaks and other breaks, I could come to my room and read a couple of chapters of the mystery book I was reading at the time. Many students during such breaks preferred to shoot the breeze in the famed Coffee House, the hangout of the Calcutta intellectuals. I did not have money to afford this, and so got left out from this activity.

A famous resident of this hostel (long before my time there, of course!) was Rajendra Prasad who would become the President of India. His nephew Vijendra Prasad was a fellow student in Narendrapur. Among my contemporaries in Eden Hindu Hostel was the brother of Bengali literature great "Shankar". So we got to see the author now and then.

[Courtesy: Roychowdhury - Presidency College ; Sengupta -]

Professors Amal Roychowdhury and Shyamal Sengupta were two of the finest in Presidency College physics faculty. Not only did they teach superbly. They also introduced the students, even at this early stage, to independent physics thinking. Both of them were kind enough to write strong letters of recommendation for me when I was applying to US universities.

The person who would later be my wife was a fellow student here in the Physics Honors class. Among my other 'batchmates', several people would later become famous: Aparna Sen became a movie director, Pritish Nandy became a media tycoon, Saugata Roy became a politician, and for a time, a Federal minister.

Prasanta Mahalanobis was a mentor to my father when the latter studied in the Presidency College. The professor later offered my father a nominal job in a fledgling pet project of his. My father declined with thanks. That project would become the Indian Statistical Institutes - one of the world-class organizations India boasts today. Prafulla Chandra Ray was an ideal for my father-in-law (and known well to him.) Pratul Chandra Rakshit was a family friend to my in-laws and co-authored with my father-in-law the famous "Sarkar & Rakshit" organic chemistry textbooks. I knew him well. The famed Bengali poet Haraprasad Mitra was the Superintendent of the Eden Hindu Hostel when I lived there. He was particularly kind to me and extended great leniency when at times, being strapped for cash, I fell behind on paying my hostel dues.

Renowned Indian physicist Prashanta Chandra Mahalanobis was a mentor to my father.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

[Photo courtesy: University of Michigan]
Professor Orren C. Mohler, noted astronomer, was the Chairman of UM Department of Astronomy when I attended there. He patiently engaged in a lengthy correspondence with me that led to my coming to US. He was a very fine gentleman, besides everything else fine that he was.

[Courtesy: Haddock: Ann Arbor News; Radiotelescope: Univ. of Michigan]

Professor Fred T. Haddock was the mover behind the University of Michigan Radioastronomy Observatory; Bibhas De as a graduate student at the UM Department of Astronomy.

I came to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with a scholarship from UNESCO and a travel grant from the International Astronomical Union. My main interest was Radioastronomy - mostly from the physics and engineering point of view. Professor Fred T. Haddock took my under his wings, and gave me unlimited opportunity to learn. I spent a great deal of time at the Radioastronomy Observatory in Peach Mountain (pictured above.) However, being a grunt, I always got the graveyard shift for observing. I saw many moons go down on me, and many suns come up. I also worked full-time here summers as an electronics technician. I spent a great deal of time simply soldering components to circuit boards. The reward came when I finally got to test and tweak these boards, put them in a spectral lines receiver, and make radioastronomical observation with this receiver.

Bibhas De at the University of Michigan Radioastronomy Observatory Control Console ( ~ 1970 vintage electronics)

University of Michigan offered something of a classical education still. So for my Master's degree in Astronomy I had to pass two semesters of German! I had also joined the University of Michigan Rifle Club which not only had an indoor pistol range on campus, but also an outdoor shooting range near Ypsilanti.

La Jolla, California

Foreign students Gopa De and Bibhas De arrive at UCSD!

After I finished my Master's degree, I was bitten by the restlessness bug. I applied to Harvard University to do my Ph.D. Almost by return mail, I was told by the Chairman of the Astronomy Department there, Leo Goldberg, that they could accept me and financially support me at Harvard. After some deliberation, I declined and ended up in UCSD.

[Courtesy: UCSD]

With a Master's degree from the University of Michigan, I came to the University of California, San Diego, in 1971 to study under Professors Hannes Alfven (Nobel Prize for Physics, 1970) and Gustaf Arrhenius (grandson of Svante Arrhenius). The above picture of the UCSD Central Library (now Geisel Library) has become iconic of UCSD. These were most exciting times. In due course, my wife and I both received our Ph. D. degrees here.


Of those pictured, Alfven was my teacher. Goeppert Mayer's office faced my wife's graduate student office! The Cricks and we broke bread many times - in their home and ours. At a party once, Mrs. Bronowski approached my wife and said: "From India? We have a good friend there. Her name is Indira Gandhi." We sublet our first apartment in La Jolla from Ricky Sherover - soon then to become Mrs. Mercuse.


Professors Hannes Alfven and Gustaf Arrhenius

My "international" thesis committee: Devamitta Asoka Mendis (Sri Lankan-born), Sir W. Ian Axford (New Zealander), Gustaf Arrhenius (Swedish-born), James R. Arnold (born in USA) and Hannes Alfven (Swedish). It would turn out that, beyond international, the Committee would also have a "universal" flavor. Three members have had asteroids named after them:

Asteroid 1778 Alfven
Asteroid 2143 Jimarnold
Asteroid 5097 Axford

Of the two graduate students of Hannes Alfven then, Wing-Huen Ip and myself, the former would rise to great academic and scientific height while the latter would fizzle out. However, I would not feel badly about not measuring up. In their later years, the Alfvens extended great friendship and affection towards my wife and me. And so did the Arrheniuses.

Alfvens and Des

Gopa De, Hannes Alfven, Kerstin Alfven and Bibhas De in 1971.

Gopa De and Hannes Alfven

Gopa De and Hannes Alfven at Bibhas De graduation party at the Alfvens, La Jolla, December 1973, with notation in the back of the photo by Alfven.

Bibhas De and Gustaf Arrhenius

Bibhas De in May 2014 visits Gustaf Arrhenius (left), teacher, mentor, nurturer and family friend. In the background is a painting of Gustaf's grandfather Svante Arrhenius.


.                What they undertook to do
.                They brought to pass;
.                All things hang like a drop of dew
.                Upon a blade of grass.

- William Butler Yeats


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