When Sir Ross Masood wrote to Einstein

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The historic and prestigious Aligarh Muslim University, also known as the “Oxford of the East” or “Muslim Oxford,” had an illustrious past when heads of state used to visit the university. Throughout the 1960s, the university was visited by a number of world leaders, including former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, Malaysian Prime Minister Tinku Abdul Rahman, Nigerian Prime Minister Ahmadu Bello, and many others. The M.A.O. (Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College), afterwards known as Aligarh Muslim University, has experienced exponential progress since its founding in practically every department.

When Sir Ross Masood was the vice chancellor of AMU, he sent a letter to Albert Einstein asking him to recommend a physics teacher for the Department of Physics at AMU. This was a very interesting event.Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s grandson, Sir Ross Masood, was a good choice to carry on his pioneering work.He had a versatile personality with farsightedness. From 1929 until 1934, he served as vice chancellor of the university. He believed in the high ideals of the university. He advocated for technological and scientific education. Although he was a man of the social sciences, he was aware of the benefits that science education can have for a community. Through his tireless efforts, he convinced the central government and the Nizam government to provide the university with funding so that it could expand its teaching in science. He was a multilingual genius with fluency in English, French, Italian, Arabic, Persian, and Urdu, but science was his main focus and the center of his tireless efforts.

To build up the physics department, Ross Masood addressed a letter to the world-acclaimed physicist at Princeton University, United States, Albert Einstein, and requested that he recommend the name of an excellent researcher and well-qualified teacher of physics. Einstein suggested Professor R. Samuel, a spectroscopy expert who worked at Aligarh from 1930 to 1936. It is noteworthy that he did not suggest a researcher from his area of theoretical physics, but rather from an extremely promising branch of experimental physics at that time. His research in his area of expertise laid the foundation for Aligarh Muslim University’s School of Spectroscopy. A laboratory for research in atomic and molecular spectroscopy was established. This research lab was regarded as the best in the country. Professor Samuel trained many famous scientists, including Dr. R. Krishna Asundi, Reader in Physics from 1931 to 1938, who later went on to become the head of the physics department at Banaras Hindu University (BHU). He even established a department of spectroscopy in Banaras.

During Sir Roos Masood’s time at Aligarh Muslim University (1929–1934), especially in the Department of Physics, there was a lot of growth. The most notable feature of this time period was the advancement of science education. The science block was then built, and outstanding physicists were offered positions in the department, and the laboratories were equipped with the best equipment.


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