In Memoriam: Samir K. Bose, Professor Emeritus of Theoretical Physics

Author: Kelli Brown

In Memoriam Feature

Samir K. Bose passed away peacefully surrounded by his family at his home in Granger, Indiana, on December 4, 2019. He was born on May 1, 1934, in Dhaka, in what was then part of India. Like millions of others, he became a refugee during the traumatic partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan in 1947, an experience that left an indelible mark on him, most evident in his generosity towards others. As a young man, he discovered his twin passions for leftist politics and science. The former resulted in a life-long empathy for the disenfranchised and an appreciation for the value of historical materialism as a tool for analyzing world events. The latter led to graduate degrees in physics at Delhi University (MSc, 1958) and at the University of Rochester (Ph.D., 1962). In 1961, he married Sudesh Koshal, his undergraduate classmate and fellow theoretical physicist, with whom he celebrated 58 years of marriage on November 26, 2019.

While the majority of his academic career was spent in the Physics Department at the University of Notre Dame (1966-2002), Bose also held appointments at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Bombay, Delhi University, the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, and the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur. His research as a theoretical physicist aimed to understand cosmology and the workings of the universe. It was characterized by variety, inventiveness and depth. He initially studied aspects of elementary particle physics, then later focused on the theory of general relativity. Bose authored a textbook on this subject intended to initiate students into the discipline, which found a wide readership in India.

Following his retirement, Bose immersed himself in the study of the history of mathematics as a global achievement, delighting in learning about the contributions from Mayan, Greek, Arab, and Indian civilizations. His journeys into the history of mathematics were augmented by actual travel with Sudesh to many different parts of the world, including but not limited to Cambodia, Croatia, Egypt, Guatemala, Mexico, Israel, Peru, and Turkey. Outside of his work life, he had many other interests. An avid reader, he especially enjoyed military history. He was a founding member of The Asian Indian Classical Music Society which brought world renowned musicians and dancers to the South Bend community. With Sudesh, he was most happy, however, welcoming friends and strangers into their home for flavorful meals, stimulating conversations, and spirited disagreements.

Preceding Bose in death were his parents, Sadhana and Manindranath Bose, along with his brother, Subhir Bose. He is survived by his wife Sudesh, daughters Purnima Bose and Bipasa Nadon (Christopher Nadon), son Amitabha Bose (Satinder Jawanda), sisters Bharati Datta (Kamal Kumar Datta) and Nupur Nandy (Shobhan Nandy), brothers Deepak Basu (Sumita Basu), Sujit Bose (Meena Bose), and Salil Bose (Kalpana Bose), and grandchildren Zhaleh Bose, Avinash Bose, Benjamin Nadon, Mira Nadon, and Simrun Bose.