Sunday, 21 November 2010

Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao




Born On: September 9, 1898
Born In: Vizianagaram, Andhra Pradesh, India
Died On: June 20, 1972
Career: Physicist
Nationality: Indian

Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao was one of the greatest physicists of 20th century India. His work in spectroscopy led to the development of the Nuclear Quadrupole Resonance in Physics. Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao is also known for his long association with the Andhra University in which he served as professor of Physics and subsequently, became the Principal of all the colleges under the institution. Apart from his role as physicist, Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao has always been known as a nationalist for his simple tastes in lifestyle and clothing. In spite of being professionally successfully, family was the first priority for Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao. He always wore khaddar and loved the company of people. And this is why Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao is known not only as a physicist but also a delightful companion.

Early Life
Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao was born on September 9, 1898 in a Hindu Brahmin family residing in the small town of Vizianagaram in Andhra Pradesh. His father was a post master in various cities across the state of Andhra Pradesh. He was a very devout Hindu who followed religious rites with the utmost care. Being a Brahmin, Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao was deeply influenced by religion and had to practice vegetarianism. Young Rao attended the Maharaja High School in Vizianagaram till he completed his fifth standard studies in the year 1906. His subsequent years of schooling till the completion of his intermediate examinations in the twelfth standard took place in a number of schools including the London Mission High School, the Hindu High School, the C B M High School and the A V N College.

The family was settled in Tamil Nadu and Rao was forced to undertake the B A degree in Physics in the year 1920 in college as a B. Sc degree was unheard of in Madras University during his college days. Rao completed his masters in Physics in 1923 from Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu. Meanwhile, in the same year, when Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao was a 25 year old, his mother Ramayamma passed away. Once Rao earned a D. Sc degree after completing his research paper from Madras University, he was selected as part of a group of students to be sent abroad to complete their studies by the Andhra University in the year 1928. The opportunity to travel abroad for completion of his studies opened new doors in the career of Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao.

Career
In the year 1924, when Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao was completing his research to earn the D. Sc degree from Madras University, he joined hands with research scholar A L Narayan to set up a high quality spectroscopic laboratory in India. Dr Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao's aim was to build such a laboratory which would be equipped to conduct the most effective researches in the field of spectroscopy in the future. However, he and his partner had very low dispersion and low resolving power of constant deviation, small quartz and medium quartz spectrographs. There were no funds to purchase the alternative. Therefore, it was Dr Rao who took the initiative to travel to Calcutta. He arrived at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science in Calcutta and continued his research on spectra in visible and ultraviolet regions.

In the year 1928, Dr Rao was sponsored to be sent to England for further studies by the Andhra University. From 1930 to 1932, he conducted a research on atomic spectra at the Imperial College of Science and Technology in London under the guidance of Professor A Fowler. He was awarded a D. Sc degree from London University at the end of two years. In the year 1930, Dr Rao also traveled to European countries Germany and Sweden to explore the possibilities of research in spectroscopy in the countries. He worked under Professor F Paschen of the Physikalische Technische Reichsanstalt in Berlin, Germany for six months. Rao then visited Upsala, Sweden to study vacuum spectroscopy under the guidance of Professor Manne Seigbahn.

It is said that his interest in the field of spectroscopy was so high that Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao built a vacuum spectrograph spending his own money and had it installed in Potsdam, Germany. Dr Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao subsequently returned to India to start research work on the nuclear quadrupole resonance in the laboratories of the Andhra University. He was appointed the Principal of the Andhra University colleges in the year 1949, a post that he held till the year 1957. He was also the special officer managing the establishment of the Sri Venkateswara University in Tirupathi in 1954. He later became the Emeritus Professor of Physics at the Andhra University from 1966 to 1972.

Contributions
Professor Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao's contribution to the world of physics in general and spectroscopy in particular is immense. He remains one of the most respected physicists in India and around the world. Some of the notable contributions made by Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao are:
  • Development of diatomic and polyatomic molecular spectroscopy laboratory which deals with high resolution vibrational structure in electronic transitions.
  • Crystal spectra
  • U V Absorption
  • Raman scattering
  • Infrared absorption
  • Fluorescence and Phosphorescence
  • Construction of microwave test benches to further investigations in dielectrics.
  • Development of radio frequency spectroscopy.
  • Nuclear Quadrupole Resonance
  • Electron Spin Resonance
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
  • Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao also established scholarships in the name of his father to aid talented economically backward classes of the society study Physics. The Kotcherlakota Venkata Narasinga Rao Research Scholarship allowed a stipend of rs 30 per month for a period of two years, which could be extended to two more successive years.
  • Dr Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao was one of the founding members of the A P Akademi of Sciences in Andhra Pradesh, established in 1963.
Distinctions
Being an imminent name in the history of physics in the country, Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao is remembered through awards and honors named after him. The Indian National Science Academy distributes the Memorial Lecture Award in honor of Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao since 1979. The Professor Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao Memorial Lecture Award is distributed to celebrate outstanding contribution in the field of spectroscopy in Physics. Well known publications both in India and abroad had articles on the research work of Dr Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao during the days he conducted important research in the field of spectroscopy. These publications may still be available in library archives.

Personal Life
Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao married Vaddadi Perramma in a Hindu ceremony on December 6, 1925 and two years later the couple saw the birth of their first child Ramakrishna Rao. Over the 18 years of their marriage, Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao and his wife had seven more children, four sons and three daughters. Records claim that Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao was a very jovial person by nature and hardly ever lost his temper. He loved the company of his friends and spent hours laughing and talking to them. Though his first love was physics and he loved working in his laboratory for hours, Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao never ignored the well being of his family. His greatness as a physicist goes unquestioned, but Rao never lost an opportunity to praise even the minor efforts of his colleagues and friends. He also willingly helped many of his juniors with ideas and suggestions in a research work but refused to take any credit in the form of reference to his name in the published work.

Death
The eminent physicist and Professor Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao breathed his last on June 20, 1972.

Timeline
1898: Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao was born on September 9.
1920: Earned a B A in Physics degree from Madras University.
1923: Earned masters in Physics degree from Madras University.
1923: His mother Ramayamma passed away.
1924: Joined Madras University as research scholar.
1925: Married Vaddadi Perramma on December 6.
1927: His wife gave birth to their first child Ramakrishna Rao.
1928: Selected by Andhra University for further studies abroad.
1930: Started research in atomic spectra in London.
1930: Visited Germany and Sweden for research and study.
1949: Joined as Principal of Andhra University colleges.
1954: Appointed special officer for establishment of Sri Venkateswara University.
1963: Founded the A P Akademi of Sciences in Andhra Pradesh.
1966: Appointed the Emeritus Professor of Physics of Andhra University.
1972: Kotcherlakota Rangadhama Rao died on June 20.
1979: The Memorial Lecture Award is instituted in his honor.

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