The 104th birthday of Indian physicist and meteorologist Anna Mani, one of the nation’s earliest female scientists, is celebrated in today’s Google Doodle. Her life’s effort and research enabled India to produce precise weather forecasts and created the foundation for the country to utilise renewable energy.
Mani was born on this day in 1918 and was nurtured in the old state of Travancore. (the Kerala of today). Her early years were spent reading voraciously. By the time she was twelve years old, Mani had nearly finished the whole local library’s collection. She never lost her love of reading.
Following high school, she joined Women’s Christian College (WCC) for her Intermediate Science course before transferring to Presidency College, Madras, where she earned her Bachelor of Science with honours in physics and chemistry. She taught at WCC for a year following graduation before being awarded a scholarship for graduate work at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Here, she pursued spectroscopy coursework with a focus on diamonds and rubies under the direction of Nobel Prize winner Sir C. V. Raman.
She published five papers between 1942 and 1945, finished her dissertation for her doctorate, and enrolled in a graduate programme at Imperial College, London, where she honed her meteorological instrumentation skills.
When she eventually made it back to India in 1948, she started working for the India Meteorological Department, where she assisted in the nation’s development of its own meteorological sensors. She was so successful in this industry that was dominated by men that, in 1953, she was named division head. Over 100 designs for meteorological sensors were standardised and made simpler for production under her direction.
Mani supported alternate energy sources before anyone else. She set up a network of sun radiation monitoring stations throughout the course of the 1950s and wrote several publications on monitoring renewable energy.
Mani later rose to the post of deputy director general of the Indian meteorological department and held various important roles within the World Meteorological Organization of the United Nations. She was awarded the INSA K. R. Ramanathan Medal in 1987 in recognition of her outstanding contributions to science.
She was chosen to serve as a Trustee of the Bangalore-based Raman Research Institute following her retirement. She also established a company that produced solar and wind energy equipment.
Anna Mani, happy 104th birthday! With the help of your life’s labour, this earth has seen better days.