Today’s (August 23) Google Doodle celebrated the 104th birthday of Indian physicist and meteorologist Anna Mani, one of the country’s first female scientists. Her life’s work and research made it possible for India to make accurate weather forecasts, and laid the groundwork for the nation to harness renewable energy.
Born on this day in 1918, Mani grew up in the former state of Travancore (present-day Kerala). She spent her formative years immersed in books. By age 12, Mani had read almost every book at her public library! She remained an avid reader all her life.
After high school, she did her Intermediate Science course at Women’s Christian College (WCC) and went on to complete a Bachelor of Science with honours in physics and chemistry from Presidency College, Madras. After graduation, she taught at WCC for a year and won a scholarship for post-graduate studies at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Here, under the guidance of Nobel Laureate Sir C. V. Raman, she studied spectroscopy, specializing in diamonds and rubies.
Between 1942 and 1945, she published five papers, completed her Ph.D. dissertation, and began a graduate program at Imperial College, London, where she learned to specialize in meteorological instrumentation.
She began working for the India Meteorological Department upon her return to India in 1948, where she helped the country design and manufacture its own weather instruments. She excelled so much in this male-dominated field that by 1953, she became head of the division. Under her leadership, more than 100 weather instrument designs were simplified and standardized for production.
Mani was also an early advocate of alternative energy sources. Throughout the 1950s, she established a network of solar radiation monitoring stations and published several papers on sustainable energy measurement.
Mani later became Deputy Director General of India Meteorological Department, and held several key positions in the United Nations World Meteorological Organization. In 1987, she won the INSA K. R. Ramanathan Medal for her remarkable contributions to science.
After her retirement, she was appointed as a Trustee of the Raman Research Institute in Bangalore. She also founded a company that manufactured solar and wind energy devices.
Happy 104th birthday, Anna Mani! Your life’s work inspired brighter days for this world.