Sisir Kumar Mitra
|Professor Sisir Mitra|
Photo of Mitra from the January 1916 issue of The Hindusthanee Student.
24 October 1890|
|Died||13 August 1963(aged 72)|
|Institutions||Bankura Christian College
University of Paris
University of Nancy
University of Calcutta
West Bengal Board of Secondary Education
|Alma mater||Presidency College
University Science College
University of Paris
|Known for||Work on the ionosphere|
|Notable awards||Fellow of the Royal Society|
Mitra was born and raised in Calcutta. His parents were the doctor Saratkumari and the school teacher Jaykrishna. At the age of nine he witnessed a hot air balloon and became intrigued in the phenomenon, so he began studying science. The family moved to Bhagalpur, where Sisir attended school and the local college. After his father died, his mother supported him through Presidency College of the University of Calcutta where he earned a B.Sc. In 1912 he gained his M.Sc. at the same institution.
Mitra briefly became a scholar performing research before becoming a teacher. Eventually he taught at Bankura Christian College. In 1914 he married Lilavati Devi.
In 1916, Sisir was invited to join the new postgraduate department of physics at the University Science College. He gained a D.Sc. degree in 1919; then he left for Paris, France to study at the University of Paris. There he earned a second D.Sc. and would join Marie Curie at her laboratory. He developed an interest in the new science of radio communication, and went to the University of Nancy to research this field.
In 1923 he returned to India where he was appointed Khaira Professor of physics, at the University of Calcutta. There, in addition to teaching, he established a laboratory to investigate wireless. He also initiated a new department at the University of Calcutta that later became the Institute of Radio Physics and Electronics.
In 1955 he retired from the university, becoming emeritus professor. He was given charge of the West Bengal Secondary Education Board, and spent six years organizing this administrative body.
He died following a short illness.
Among his accomplishments were his investigations into the ionosphere. Dr. Mitra proposed that ultraviolet light from the sun created the middle, or E layer, of the ionosphere. He also determined that ions in the ionosphere's F layer were what caused luminescence of the night sky, giving it a dusty hue rather than pitch black. In 1947 he published a reference treatise titled "The Upper Atmosphere" on atmospheric research.
Awards and honors
- Fellowship of the Royal Society, 1958
- Presidency of the Indian National Science Academy, 1959-60.
- National Professorship, 1962.
- Padma Bhushan, 1962.
- S. K. Mitra Center for Research in Space Environment of the University of Calcutta is named for him.
- The crater Mitra on the Moon is named after him.
- Ratcliffe, J. A. (1964). "Sisir Kumar Mitra 1890-1963". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 10: 221–226. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1964.0013.
- S. K. Mitra, "The Upper Atmosphere", Calcutta, Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1947.