, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

If every one of you has heard the recent news about this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics, you might be questioning yourself that “Well, What is a Higgs boson anyway?”

If you be familiar with one thing about the Higgs boson, it’s probably that it’s called the “God particle” (because its existence is the key to understand the early evolution of the universe.) Leon Lederman, who won a Nobel in 1988 for discovering a couple of other subatomic particles, coined that term in 1993 because the Higgs was so hard to pin down. As Eryn Brown reported, Lederman had really wanted to call it the “Goddamn particle.”

But does that really answer your question?

[Particle Physics’ brief History:-

5th Century BC: Greek philosopher Democritus says the universe comprises invisible particles called atoms.

1800s: John Dalton lays the groundwork for atomic theory. The electron is discovered by Britain’s Joseph Thomson, Nobel laureate in 1906.

1899-1950s: Ernest Rutherford discovers the atomic nucleus and the proton. Neutron, similar to the proton but with no electrical charge, is discovered by James Chadwick. Particle accelerators help the discovery of many high velocities were achieved to stimulate the Big Bang.

1964: Six Physicists publish papers independently on how particles acquire mass. Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig of US propose that protons and neutrons, are compromised of smaller charged particles- quarks.

1974: The Standard Model is devised: a theory of fundamental particles.

2008: CERN begins the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s biggest particle smasher.

July 4, 2012: CERN announces it has discovered a particle resembling Higgs.

October 08 2013: Higgs and Englert are awarded. ] * source: Hindustan Times, 9th Oct’13

The Higgs boson is the particle associated with the Higgs field, an energy field that transmits mass to the things that travel through it. Peter Higgs and Francois Englert theorized way back in 1964 that this is how things in the universe – stars, planets, even people – came to have mass.

The ‘boson’ in the Higgs boson particle, whose investigation and eventual uncovering was one of the longest and most expensive in the history of science, owes its name to the great Indian Physicist (and also a Mathematician) Satyendra Nath Bose.

SN Bose, in many higher echelons of knowledge, still lies masked in ignorance. The name of SN Bose, despite being the name behind the naming of the particle that has shot to prominence yet again, doesn’t appear the way it deserves to.

Bose, in early 20th century i.e. in 1924, sent a paper to Albert Einstein describing a statistical model that eventually laid the basis for describing the two classes of subatomic particles – bosons, named after Bose, and fermions, after Italian physicist Enrico Fermi. This led to the discovery of what became known as the “Bose-Einstein condensate phenomenon”.

Bose along with Albert Einstein yielded the basic doctrines of the particles called “bosons”. Bose-Einstein Statistics, the Bose-Einstein Condensate and work on bosons are glowing reminders of that phenomenal relationship – which gave rise to several foundational elements of advanced physics.

With the Higgs-Boson particle on the threshold of solid discovery, Satyendra Nath Bose might have been happy with his work being the pivot of it all. Pride and honor is not those only emotions that an Indian would feel at Bose’s name being a part of that which is supposed to be the crux of all matter. A thousand Nobel Prizes couldn’t have done what the God Particle has done to an Indian scientist. Almost four decades since his demise, the man has been re- established as an illustrious scientist– and this time, the entire world has been jolted out of a trance. Years of neglect later, recognition has struck quiet rigidly. Satyendra Nath Bose isn’t a man who can be forgotten in the flash of an eye.

In particle physics, bosons comprise one of two classes of elementary particles, the other being fermions. The name boson was coined by Paul Dirac to commemorate the contribution of Satyendra Nath Bose in developing, with Einstein, Bose–Einstein statistics—which theorizes the characteristics of elementary particles. Examples of bosons include fundamental particles (i.e., Higgs boson, the four force-carrying gauge bosons of the Standard Model, and the still-theoretical graviton of quantum gravity); composite particles (i.e., mesons, stable nuclei of even mass number, e.g., deuterium,helium-4lead-208); and quasi particles (e.g. Cooper pairs). And according to the definition, bosons are particles which obey Bose–Einstein statistics.

Of late, the Higgs boson has garnered some serious attention. That’s exactly what happened on July 4, 2012, though, when scientists at CERN, working with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) announced that they’d found a particle that behaved the way they expect the Higgs boson to behave.

Two theorists who predicted the existence of the subatomic Higgs boson almost 50 years ago, what might give shape and size to all matter – and were proven right only in 2012 – won the Nobel Prize for physics on Tuesday. British physicist Peter Higgs and Belgian physicist Francois Englert shared the honors, announced in Stockholm at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. But, much of the credit for discovering the boson, or “God Particle,” has been given to British physicist Peter Higgs, much to the dismay of the Indian scientists and population.

While Albert Einstein is immortal and has been commemorated in terms of his work in Physics, and Peter Higgs’ list of awards don’t find an end, the other scientist whose namesake is a part of this God Particle, has been brutally glossed over. Bose’s contributions never found the international acknowledgement of a Nobel Prize, and the irony is even more obtrusive in the fact that several researches but the foundational one on the ‘Boson’ particle have been honored with that ultimate recognition. Satyendra Nath Bose undoubtedly deserved a Nobel, at least.

“Many people in this country have been perplexed and even annoyed, that the Indian half of the now-acknowledged `God particle’ is being carried in lower case,” The Economic Times wrote in an editorial Monday. What most don’t realize is that the naming of all bosons after Bose “actually denotes greater importance.”

“He is a forgotten hero,” the government expressed grief in a lengthy statement, noting that Bose was never awarded a Nobel Prize though “at least 10 scientists have been awarded the Nobel” in the same field.

While several Nobel prizes have been awarded research related to the concepts of the boson, Bose-Einstein statistics and Bose-Einstein condensate, Bose himself was never honored by the Nobel academy. Since Nobel is not given posthumously, the award will continue to elude the scientist. Had India been an independent nation Bose could have got more recognition than he has.

But undoubtedly, Satyendra Nath Bose is the name of excellence personified in the field of Physics and Maths in the whole world and without him, science would have had to return to its descent.

—-The End—

© [Shilpi Mayank Awasthi] [2013] [All Rights Reserved]