Sir C. V. Raman and the story of the Nobel prize

Rajinder Singh and Falk Riess

In 1930, C. V. Raman was the first `non-white', Asian and Indian to receive the Nobel prize in physics for his work on scattering of light and discovery of the Raman effect. The documents were obtained from the Nobel Committee connected with the proposal and selection of C. V. Raman for the Nobel prize and the results of the studies are reported in this paper.

The Nobel prize is one of the prizes known to a great part of the non-scientific public and is considered as the highest honour to be awarded to scientists. A short life sketch of the founder and the foundation of the Nobel prize is included in this article. The Statutes of the Nobel Foundation (SNF) which were approved by the Crown on 29 June 1900 had been decreed by the Swedish Government on 27 April 1995. The rules and regulations quoted here are taken from these statutes.

Raman received the Nobel prize in a record time of two years after his prize- winning discovery. Several questions have been raised about not sharing of the prize by Raman either with his colleagues or the Russian scientists. It will be shown here that it was not in Raman's hand to take this decision. The reasons for these are elaborated in this paper.

Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman (1888-1970)

India's only Nobel Laureate and the first Asian to be awarded the Nobel prize for physics, C. V. Raman was born on 8 November 1888 in Madras. Later, the family moved to Visakhapatnam, where his father was appointed a lecturer. Raman was a brilliant student. In 1907, he joined the Financial Civil Services, as an Assistant Accountant-General in Calcutta.

In his spare time, Raman started working on some problems in the field of acoustics at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, founded by Maherdra Lal Sarcar (1833-1904) based on the model of the Royal Institution in London. For nearly ten years, he worked independently and established his reputation as a scientist in India as well as in Europe. In 1917, he was appointed professor at the University of Calcutta. His first trip outside India was to Oxford in 1921 to represent the University of Calcutta.

During his voyage, he conducted some experiments and published a note in Nature entitled `The Colour of the Sea'1. It was a generally held belief that the blue colour of the sea is due to the reflected sky-light as well as due to absorption of the light by the suspended matter in the water. Raman showed that the blue colour of sea is independent of sky reflection as well as absorption, but rathter it is due to the molecular diffraction. These initial experiments opened up a new field of research in Calcutta. Further work on the scattering of light led to the discovery of the Raman effect in 1928. The effect deals with the change in the frequency of the monochromatic light after scattering. The spectrum of the scattered light gives clues about the molecular structure of the material under study, thereby helping to understand its properties.

The list of honours bestowed on Raman for his scientific findings is long. However, in this paper we have restricted ourselves to a discussion of the reasons for his being awarded the Nobel prize, as well as some of the questions that have been raised on his receiving of this award. A short biography of the founder of the Nobel prize has also been included.

Alfred Bernhard Nobel (1833-1896)

Alfred Nobel was born on 21 October 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden. His father Emmanuel Nobel was an engineer who built bridges and buildings. In connection with this, he experimented with different techniques for blasting rocks. In 1837, he had to declare himself bankrupt. He left Stockholm and moved to Russia. In 1842, the rest of family joined him in St. Petersburg, where Alfred and his brothers were tutored privately till 1850. After the Crimean War (1853-1856), once again, Emmanuel Nobel had to declare himself bankrupt and he returned to Sweden in 1859.

In Paris, Alfred Nobel worked in the private laboratory of a famous chemist T. J. Pelouze, and came in contact with an Italian scientist, A. Sobrero, an inventor of highly explosive nitroglycerine. This idea was extended further by Alfred Nobel to conduct explosions under controlled conditions. After a long period of experimentation he was able to turn liquid nitro-glycerine into a ductile explosive and patented this material as dynamite in the year 1867. He also invented a detonator which could be ignited with a fuse. These inventions helped to reduce the costs for drilling tunnels, building canals and other construction works.

At the end of his life, he had as many as 355 patents. Some of his industrial enterprises still exist, e.g. Imperial Chemical Industries, UK; Dyno Industries, Norway; and AB Bofors, Sweden.

Through his skill as industrialist, and his number of patents he became one of the wealthiest men in the world. Alfred Bernhard Nobel died in Italy on 10 December 1896. This day is taken as the Nobel prize ceremony day to honour the testator.


The last Will-The Foundation of the Nobel prize

The Nobel Foundation is established under the terms of the Will of Alfred Bernhard Nobel, drawn up on the 27 November 1895, which in its relevant parts runs as follows: 1 `the whole of my remaining realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way: the capital, invested in safe securities by my executors, shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind. The said interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics; one part to the person who shall have made the most important chemical discovery or improvement; one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine; one part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work of an idealistic tendency; and one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses. The prize for physics and chemistry shall be awarded by the (Royal) Swedish Academy of Sciences; that for physiological or medical works by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm; that for literature by the (Swedish) Aca-demy in Stockholm; and that for champions of peace by a committee of the persons to be elected by the Norwegian Storting (Parliament). It is my express wish that in awarding the prizes no consideration whatever shall be given to the nationality of the candidates, but that the most worthy shall receive the prize, whether he be a Scandinavian or not'2.


Most probably, it was due to the influence of his secretary-cum-house- keeper that the Nobel prize for peace is one of the five Prizes that have been instituted, whereas the sixth Nobel prize for economic sciences has been established by the Swedish Riksbank since 1968. The other version about the Nobel prize for peace is that `Evidence suggests that the award for peace may well have been the fruition of the inventor's long standing aversion to violence. Early in 1886, for example, he told a British acquaintance that he had a more and more earnest wish to see a rose red peace sprout in this explosive world'3.


As stated above, the Nobel prize for physics and chemistry is awarded by the Swedish Academy of Sciences. Here, the discussion has been limited to the field of physics only. In general, the Nobel Committee consisting of 3-5 members is elected for a period of three years for each Swedish Prize section by the Academy. (In later years, the number of members for the physics and chemistry groups has been fixed to 5 for each group4.) The Nobel Committee sends out invitations during September to the competent persons to put forward proposals together with evidences. The persons who are eligible to submit proposals5 are:


1.Swedish and foreign members of the Academy of Sciences.

2.Members of the Nobel Committees for physics and chemistry.

3.Scientists who have been awarded the Prize by the Academy of Sciences.

4.Permanent and assistant professors in the sciences of physics and chemistry at the universities and institutes of technology of Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway, and the Karolinska Institute.

5.Holders of corresponding chairs in at least six universities or university colleges selected by the Academy of Sciences with a view to ensuring the appropriate distribution of the commission over the different countries and their seats of learning.

6.Other scientists from whom the Academy may see fit to invite proposals. Decisions as to the selection of the teachers and scientists referred to in paragraphs 5 (Expert's scrutiny) and 6 (Opinion of 3-5 members of the Nobel Committee) above shall be taken each year before the end of the month September.


According to Nobel's will, the prize should have international character. Between the years 1901 and 1929; 28.6%, 20.0%, 20.0%, 8.6% and 8.6% Nobel Laureates belonged to Germany, France, England, USA and Scandinavian countries respectively; whereas the nominators who made proposals from the above countries were 25.9%, 13.9%, 7.6%, 11.0% and 13.4% respectively6. As most of the nominators and proposed candidates belonged to these countries, the chances for others such as Russians were limited. On the other hand, these circumstances make the case study of Raman more interesting. It is in itself a proof of his pioneer work and his reputation among the scientists of these countries.


Raman and the Nobel prize proposals

In 1929, C. Fabry from Paris recommended J. Cabannes (Montpellier) and C. V. Raman (Calcutta), whereas N. Bohr proposed that either R. W. Wood or R. W. Wood and Raman should be considered for receiving the Nobel prize for physics. In that year 48 nominators sent 97 proposals and proposed in all 29 persons7. Out of these 29 persons, L. de Broglie, Cabannes, Raman and Wood were declared by the Committee as the persons who fundamentally deserved the prize; but it was L. de Broglie who finally received the Prize for that year8.

For the year 1930, 39 competent persons were asked to submit proposals. Out of them, 37 persons sent proposals. There were 21 valid recommendations for a full or shared Prize. Most of the recommendations were concerned with atomic theory and atomic physics. The atomic theory proposals had been worked out by Oseen9.

Out of the 21 nominations, Raman was the most suitable person; he was proposed 10 times, either as a single candidate for the Prize, or to share it with other physicists (Table 1).

In that year some of the other scientists proposed included, M. Born, A. Sommerfeld, E. Schr"dinger, W. Heisenberg, H. F. Osborn, and M. N. Saha (an Indian astrophysicist).


Raman and the Nobel prize in record time

Table 2 has been compiled for the physicists from the German-speaking area who had received the Prize before 1930. The list shows that Max von Laue (1879-1960) was the only physicist to have received unshared Nobel prize in a record time of two years after the discovery.

According to the Will of Nobel: `. . . the annual award of prizes shall be intended for works "during the preceding year" shall be understood in the sense that awards shall be made for the most recent achievements in the fields of culture referred to in the Will and for older works only if their significance has not become apparent until recently'11.

The application and significance of the Raman effect becomes clear from the number of papers published within a period of one-and-half years after its discovery. `By August 1929, Ganesan was able to compile a bibliography of 150 papers!'12. The last date of sending the proposal was the first of February (in our case February 1930); and the list of original literature on the Raman effect, compiled by Kohlrausch13, contained 225 entries till 31 January 1930, starting from the first publication of Raman and Krishnan in Nature14 on the discovery.

The relevance of this discovery in the area of quantum mechanics can be judged from the statement of R. W. Wood, `It appears to me that this very beautiful discovery which resulted from Raman's long and patient study of the phenomenon of light scattering is one of the best convincing proofs of the quantum theory' (emphasis added)15.

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As shown above, because his discovery found immediate applications in the field of experimental and theoretical physics; Raman was found to qualify for receiving the Prize in such a short period of time. The opinion of experts in the scientific community about Raman's scientific work, as illustrated in the next paragraphs, further substantiates his candidature for the prize.

Raman and the western connection

Raman's work on musical instruments was well known outside India even before he joined the University of Calcutta as a professor. He began his work on light scattering in 1921 and soon established his reputation in this field. In 1924 he was invited by the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Toronto to open a discussion meeting on the scattering of light. As a scientist, he established several contacts with the scientists in the West.

The report prepared by the Nobel Committee was signed by H. Pleijel, Manne Siegbahn, V. Carlheim-Gyllensk"ld, Erik Hulthen and C. W. Oseen. Some amongst these were known personally to Raman. For example, M. Siegbahn (1886-1978), who received the Nobel prize in 1924 for his discovery and researches in the area of X-rays, had contacts with Raman. C. W. Oseen (1879-1944) who held the chair of theoretical physics at the University of Uppsala and later was appointed the director of the Nobel Institute for Theoretical Physics, was also known to Raman. In one of his letters to Raman, he wrote: `. . . Several months ago, you had the great kindness to send me a copy of your German pamphlet Forschritte der Chemie etc. on anisotropic fluids.

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During the sea-voyage now nearing its termination, I have spent my time very pleasantly and profitably studying your exposition of this subject. I had not written to you earlier acknowledging your presentation, so I am taking this opportunity of expressing my gratitude to you for sending me this publication. It has deeply interested me, and the explanations you have given are so clear and masterly that their perusal has made a deep impression on my mind. I hope this will bear fruit before long' (dated 16 December 1929).


Niels Bohr (1885-1962), who received the Nobel prize in 1922 for investigation on the structure of atoms and the radiation emanating from them, had contacts with Raman. In a letter dated 21 March 1923 he wrote: `I hope you will pardon the liberty I am taking in writing to you concerning Bidhubhusan Ray, who is on the staff of this college and is one of the promising young physicists of the Calcutta School. . . I have suggested to Ray that he might follow a different course (not to go to England and Germany like most Indians were doing) and that he cannot do better than spend a greater part of his period of deputation at Copenhagen working under your direction.' Raman visited Copenhagen, about which Bohr states, `We often think of your visit here some years ago, and I hope very much that I shall have the pleasure of meeting you again before too long' (dated 18 September 1929). In the same letter he wrote, `I take this opportunity to express my most cordial congratulations to you to your great discovery of the new radiation phenomenon which has added so immensely to our knowledge of optics and atomic physics'.


Raman wrote back to him, `The great kindness you have shown me in the past encourages me to make a request of a personal character. As you know, my work on the new radiation effect has been received with enthusiasm in scientific circles, and I feel sure that if you give your influential support, the Nobel Committee for physics may recommend that the award for 1930 may go to India for the first time. The proposal for the award has to reach the Nobel Committee before 31 January 1930. I have greatly hesitated in writing to you about this, and it is only because I felt sure that you sympathise with the scientific aspirations of India that I have ventured to do so. With many apologies. I am, yours sincerely' (letter dated 6 December 1929). Raman was not aware that he had been already nominated by Bohr for the year 1929. He repeated this decision for the year 1930.

However, the following paragraphs clearly bring out that it was not the contacts alone, but rather it was his scientific contributions which fetched Raman the Prize.

Opinion of the nominators about Raman's scientific work

The comments of some of the scientists who nominated Raman are:


C. T. R. Wilson (1869-1959), who received the Nobel prize in the year 1927, and E. Rutherford (1871-1937) wrote, `. . . There seems to be no doubt that a study of the change of frequency in liquid and solid media provides valuable information on the natural frequencies associated with the molecules-information which is difficult to obtain by other methods-and will prove of great service in increasing our knowledge. . . We are both of (the) opinion that Raman is a physicist of exceptional ability, who in the difficult conditions in his own country has built up a successful school of research which has already produced work of high quality. He is a man strong both on the theoretical and experimental side and this is well illustrated by many of his papers. We are of the opinion that his work is of the outstanding quality required for this great honour.' (Rutherford and Wilson to the Chairman, Nobel Committee, 25 January 1930).

J. Stark (1874-1957), who also got the Nobel prize in 1919 for his discovery of the Doppler effect in canal rays and the splitting of the spectral lines in an electric field, pointed out the practical side of the discovery by Raman. He observed, `Answering your invitation I present to you a proposal for the Nobel prize in physics for the year 1930, and to be precise I propose: Professor C. V. Raman in Calcutta for the discovery of the effect of the change in the frequency of light when scattered which was named after him. This discovery means-independent of the transience of theories-a permanent progress in the knowledge of physical reality.' (J. Stark to the Nobel Committee, dated 7 January 1930. Translated from German.)


R. Pfeiffer from Breslau praised not only the discovery of the effect but also the earlier research works of Raman. He stated, `I propose the professor of physics at the University of Calcutta Venkata Raman (Fellow of the Royal Society) for this year's Nobel prize for physics. Professor Raman has developed a fruitful research work since several decades from which I want to mention only his extensive investigations about the acoustics of Indian musical instruments and those about the diffraction of light in molecules (Tyndall phenomenon). These latter investigations led him to his great discovery namely the establishment of the effect which was named after him (Raman effect); as a result, Raman moved up to the very front of those physicists studying the problems of modern atomic physics. The Raman effect provides inner eigenfrequencies of the molecules that means a property of them due to their inner constitution, that means it (the effect) provides a powerful method for the exploration of molecules. It is of particular interest that the eigenfrequencies determined by this method which are situated in the spectral range of ultra-red frequently cannot be found by the help of spectroscopic methods. Therefore ultra-red research and Raman effect have a stimulating influence upon one another so that everyday surprises us with fresh evidence. In summary, I have to express my conviction that the Raman effect is one of the most important and most fruitful discoveries of the last years.' (R. Pfeiffer to the Nobel Committee, 22 January 1930. Translated from German.)


Niels Bohr (1885-1962) stated, `This phenomenon (Raman effect), the explanation of which agrees so well with the quantum theoretical ideas, will undoubtedly become a most important source in increasing our knowledge of the states of the atoms or molecules of matter in transitions, between which their characteristic spectra are emitted.' (N. Bohr to the Nobel Committee for physics, 29 January 1929. Translated from Danish.)

The above evidences amply show that experts in the field recognized his work, which qualified him for the Nobel prize.

Why did not Raman share the Nobel prize with his co-workers?

In his book Raman and His Effect Keswani wrote, `Raman was a great teacher and beloved of his pupils but he could have given more credit to K. S. Krishnan who contributed no less to the discovery of the effect now known as the Raman effect'16; and further, `Many have felt that K. S. Krishnan should have been acknowledged as the co-discoverer of the effect now bearing Raman's name exclusively'17. As far as the coining of the term Raman effect (in English and German-speaking areas) or Smekal-Raman effect is concerned, a detailed description has been given in a separate article18. The term was coined by scientists other than Raman. In the same book Keswani has raised some interesting questions, such as `Why did the Nobel Committee for physics not vote for the sharing of the prize by the Indian(s) and Russians?'19.

The names of the collaborators were known to the Committee as well as to the expert who prepared the report. The name of candidates given in the report of the Nobel Committee shows that not a single collaborator of Raman was nominated. Also, according to the SNF 7 `. . . Personal applications for an award shall not be considered' (emphasis added). Thus it was not possible for Raman to put his name or any of his co-workers for the nomination. The prize was awarded not only for the discovery but for `his work on light scattering and the discovery of the Raman effect'. The committee had to base their decision on the proposals and the opinions of the experts. If there was a controversy among the members of the Committee regarding awarding the prize to the co-workers as well, it will never come to light because under the rules of SNF 10, `Proposals received for the award of a prize, and investigations and opinions concerning the award of a prize may not be divulged. Should divergent opinions have been expressed in connection with the decision of a prize-awarding body concerning the award of prize, these may not be included in the record or otherwise divulged'.

Why did not Raman share the Nobel prize with Russian scientists?

There existed a controversy between Raman and his Russian colleagues on the priority of the discovery. Raman wrote in Nature, `The Russian physicists, to whose observation on the effect in quartz Darwin refers, made their first communication on the subject after the publication of the notes in Nature of 31 May and 27 April. Their papers appeared in print after sixteen other printed on the effect, by various authors, had appeared in recognized scientific periodicals.' Most probably, there was more one-sided correspondence between Raman and the Mandelstam school, as I. L. Fabelinskii's who was a co-worker of Mandelstam states, `. . . due to its impudent and domineering nature it has been left without reply and no correspondence has been kept' (I. L. Fabelinskii, private commun.).

Since the controversy was a public knowledge, the Committee had to pay special attention to this issue despite the fact that the Russian scientists were recommended only twice<197>Papalexis of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) proposed that the prize should be awarded to Mandelstam (1879-1944) alone, whereas Chwolson stated that Raman should ge<%-2>t half of it and the rest of it should go to Landsberg (1890-1957) and Mandelstam.<%0>

Opinion of the Nobel Committee

The arguments put forward by Chwolson from Leningrad in his proposal follows: `that Raman shares the honour of his discovery with Landsberg and Mandelstam; because undoubtedly, they discovered the named phenomenon in quartz crystals at the same time and independently from Raman. Only due to the external circumstances and the negligence of the Russian researchers in publishing their discovery, is according to Chwolson, the cause that the effect has been named as the "Raman effect". Raman's discovery was made on February 16 and Landsberg and Mandelstam's on 21 February 1928. Letters by Raman and Krishnan to Nature were published on 31 March 1928, whereas Landsberg and Mandelstam's first publication in Naturwissenschaften on 13 July. By giving Raman alone the prize the Russian scientists would be severely punished due to this negligence, said Chwolson. Also he gives the reference of M. Born from Goettingen, who was said to know the exact situation and to have given his opinion publicly. Chwolson obviously refers to Born's article in Naturwissenschaften (1928, 16, 741) on the Fourth Russian Physicists Conference, where Born was a guest. Born mentions in his lecture that the phenomenon was discovered in Moscow and Calcutta at the same time and the Russian physicists should share the honour with Raman'21 (Translated from Swedish).

About the proposal of Papalexis from Leningrad the Committee observed, `An even stronger impression of this opinion we find in the proposal of Papalexi, Leningrad in which he writes that Mandelstam alone should get the prize. He supports his proposal as follows: Mandelstam has been working since 1907 on the theoretical and experimental aspects of the diffusion light. Since 1918 through his theoretical interpretations he came to the idea of the existence of the scattering light, which corresponds to the Raman effect. Papalexi refers to an article of Mandelstam in Journal of Russian Physical Society (Journal d. russ. phys. Gesellschaft) 1926, 58, 831, (in Russian language)22' (translated from Swedish). The Committee was of the opinion that Smekal in 1923 and Kramers and Heisenberg in 1925 had already given this explanation.


In order to make the position of the Committee on this matter clear, it will not be out of place to quote the comments of it, which stated, `If we see Mandelstam's and Landsberg's first publication in Naturwissenschaften (1928, 16, 557), we get a different picture. The short note had been dated 6 May and explains the discovery of combination lines of the diffuse light in crystalline quartz. The existence of these lines has been shown experimentally, but about the interpretation of the lines the authors say, "We consider it to be premature at this moment to give a definite interpretation of the phenomenon in question. One of the theoretical interpretations which are possible consists of the following" . . . (translated from German), in which the authors gave the same statement as Raman. And further they said, "Whether and in what way the phenomenon observed by us is connected with the one which was recently described by Raman cannot be judged at the moment because of its rather summary description" (translated from German). However, Raman's and Krishnan's letters of 31 March as well as that of 21 April gave a very clear explanation of the nature of the phenomenon, (both cited by Mandelstam and Landsberg). Unde<%-2>r these conditions, Mandelstam and Landsberg cannot argue to have obtained their experimental results independently'<M^>23<D> (T<%0>ranslated from Swedish).

Opinion of an expert

According to  5 of the SNF, `A work may not be awarded a prize, unless it by experience or expert scrutiny has been found to be of such outstanding importance as is manifestly intended by the Will'. The expert who gave this report was Erik Hulthen, professor and the director of the Physical Institute and the member of the Nobel Committee from 1929 to 1962. He prepared the report on the Raman effect under the title `The complete explanation of the Raman- Effect'. The report was in favour of Raman and cited work done by different scientists on the topic in the past years. The conclusion of the report24 (translated from Swedish) follows:

`1.The proposal by Chwolson that the Nobel prize should be divided between Raman and Landesberg- Mandelstam had been rejected because they did not come to an independent interpretation of their discovery.

2.For the same reasons, the proposal of Papalexis in favour of Mandelstam had not been taken into account.

3.The uncertainties concerning the explanation of the intensity of Raman and infrared lines in the spectrum, could be explained during the last year.

4.The Raman method has been applied with great success in different fields of molecular physics.

5.The Raman effect has effectively helped to check the actual problems of the symmetry properties of molecules, thus the problems concerning the nuclear-spin in the atomic physics'.



The Nobel Committee said, `the Raman effect is useful for the study of atomic physics and the constituents of compound. It also gives valuable information to prove modern theories in atomic physics. The Committee finds Raman's discovery on diffusion light is worth the Nobel prize for physics'25 (translated from Swedish).

We have seen that the expert as well as the Nobel Committee had given their award-adjudication in favour of Raman. Thus he cannot be held responsible for not sharing the prize.

The Nobel dream

According to the regulations, the Nobel Committee submitted its report with proposal and opinion to the Swedish Academy of Sciences on 20 September 1930 (the regulation says-by the end of September) with the conclusion, `The Committee has decided to ask the Academy to award the Nobel prize for physics for the year 1930 to Chandrasekhra Venkata Raman, Calcutta, for his work on the diffusion of light and for the effect named after him' (translated from Swedish).

According to the regulations, `the Committee shall take up the matter for a final decision before the middle of the following November'27. Another committee, `Physic-class' comprising about 25 members is responsible for controlling all the proposals, recommendations and other documents concerning the Nobel prize for physics. It gives its opinion and final decision to the Academy about the selection of the Nobel Laureate. According to the Special rules of SNF 7, `. . . The Academy shall take the matter for a final decision before the middle of the following November'. `The laureate is immediately notified of the decisions, which are then announced internationally at a press conference held in Stockholm and attended by representatives of the international news media. The messages contain the names of the laureates and a short statement describing the reason for award'28. Raman would not have been in time to attend the Nobel prize giving ceremony on 10 December 1930, if he had been informed by proper channels. `. . . Two months before Raman knew that he was awarded the Nobel prize. He had the supreme audacity of booking his steamer passage to be in time for the ceremony at Stockholm. That not only did he take such a step but went further and declared publicly that he did so are both interesting facts of his life'29. Whatever might be the source of his information, on 10 December 1930 he and Lady Raman were in Stockholm to receive the prize.

According to SNF rules under 9, `. . . It shall be incumbent on a prize-winner, whenever this is possible, to give a lecture on a subject relevant to the work for which the prize has been awarded. Such lecture should be given within six months of the Festival Day in Stockholm, or, in the case of the Peace Prize, in Oslo.' Raman delivered his Nobel lecture on 11 December 1930, entitled `The Molecular Scattering of Light', in which he gave the point of motivation of his research, i.e. the blue colour of the sea and further extension of this work on the scattering of light which led to the discovery of the effect.

After receiving the prize Raman stayed on for further five days. On 17 December 1930 he was in the Grand Hotel Olso from there he wrote a letter to Bohr which dictates, `. . . We next proceed to Goeteborg and then to Copenhagen which we reach on the night of the 19 December or perhaps the 20 December. . . . It is my hope to (be) able to meet you and your group of investigators and to spend three or four days in Copenhagen much to the advantage of my knowledge of physics' (dated 17 December 1930). The telegram which he sent from Goeteborg shows that in Copenhagen he delivered a lecture on `Scattering of light in crystals'. Raman met A. Sommerfeld in Munich. After this tour through Europe he returned to India.



Thus, Raman received the Nobel prize `for his work on diffusion of light and for the effect named after him'. The objections raised by some historians that Raman did not share the Nobel prize with others or that the Committee ignored Raman's collaborators as well as Russian colleagues is not correct; as he was awarded the Prize not only for the Raman effect, but for other work in this field as well. The Nobel Committee had to take the decision according to certain rules and regulations imposed on it by the Nobel Foundation. Raman was nominated 10 times and the nominators wrote convincing recommendations in favour of him; thus the Committee decided for Raman. He received the Nobel prize in record time due the practical significance of the discovery, as well as the good opinion of the famous contemporary scientists about his work.


1.Raman, C. V., Nature, 1921, 108, 367.

2.Statutes of the Nobel Foundation (SNF), 27 April 1995, pp. 1-2.

3.Whitman, A., in Nobel prize Winners (ed. Wasson, T.), The H.W. Wilson Company, New York, 1987, p. XXVIII.

4.SNF-Special Rules, 1994, 2.

5.ibid, 1.

6.Kueppers, G., Weingart, P. and Ulitzka, N., Die Nobelpreise in physik und chemie, 1901-1929, Materialien zum Nominierungsprozess, B.K. Verlag GmbH, Bielefeld, 1982, p. 140.

7.ibid, p. 95.

8.ibid, p. 87.

9.The Report of the Nobel Committee (RNC), Document No. 711, K. Vetenskapsakademien, 30 September 1930, p. 1.

10.ibid, pp. 5-6.

11.Ref. 2, SNF 1995, 2.

12.Venkataraman, G., Journey Into Light-Life and Science of C. V. Raman, Penguin Books India (P) Ltd., New Delhi, 1988/1994, p. 215.

13.Kohlrausch, K. W. F., Der Smekal- Raman-Effekt, Struktur der Materie in Einzeldarstellungen-12, (Herg. Born, M. and Franck, J.), Berlin, Verlag von Julius Springer 1931, pp. 355-372.

14.Raman, C. V. and Krishnan, K. S., Nature, 1928, 121, 501.

15.Ref. 12, Venkataraman, G., 1994, p. 208.

16.Keswani, G. H., Raman and His Effect, National Book Trust, India, New Delhi, 1980, (Preface), p. VI.

17.ibid, p. 108.

18.Singh, R. and Riess, F., Curr. Sci., 1998, 74, 1112-1115.

19.Ref. 16, Keswani, G. H., 1980, p. 59.

20.Raman, C. V., Nature, 1929, 123, 50.

21.Ref. 9, RNC, 1930, pp. 11-12.

22.Ref. 9, RNC, 1930, p. 12.

23.Ref. 9, RNC, 1930, p. 12-13.

24.Hulthen, E., Kompletterande Utredning roeande Raman-effekten (Report of the expert for the Nobel Committee), 26 May 1930, p. 8.

25.Ref. 9, RNC, 1930, p. 11.

26.Ref. 9, RNC, 1930, p. 20.

27.Ref. 4, SNF-Special Rules, 1994,  7.

28.Bernhard, C. G., in Nobel prize Winners (ed. Wasson, T.), The H.W. Wilson Company, New York, 1987, p. XXXI.

29.Ref. 12, Venkataraman, G., 1994, p. 216.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS.We acknowledge the help given by Mrs Adelheid Wegner Demmer, ICBM, University of Oldenburg, for the Swedish translation. Without her help this article would not have been completed in time. Also we thank Mr Jan Tapdrup, Dept History of Science, University of Aarhus, Denmark, for the Danish translation. We are grateful to the Nobel Archive of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science, Stockholm (Sweden) for sending the documents concerning the Nobel prize of C. V. Raman for the year 1930. The documents contain: the report of the Nobel Committee, the report of the expert, the recommendation letters and the SNF rules and letter of Oseen. Thanks are due to Niels Bohr Archive, Copenhagen (Denmark) for sending the correspondence of N. Bohr and C. V. Raman.

The authors are in the Department of Higher Education and History of Science, Faculty of Physics, University of Oldenburg, P.O. Box 2503, D-26111, Oldenburg, Germany