The world is celebrating the discovery of the
sub-atomic particle at CERN, Geneva, which many
believe could well be the long sought after
Higgs-Boson. This particle is also called the ‘God
Particle’ because its existence is fundamental to
the creation of the universe.
School physics teaches us that everything is made up
of atoms, and inside atoms are electrons, protons
and neutrons. They, in turn, are made of quarks and
other subatomic particles. Scientists have long
puzzled over how these minute building blocks of the
universe acquire mass. Without mass, particles
wouldn't hold together and there would be no matter.
One theory proposed by British physicist Peter Higgs
and teams in Belgium and the United States in the
1960s is that a new particle must be creating a
"sticky" field that acts as a drag on other
particles. The atom-smashing experiments at CERN,
the European Center for Nuclear Research, have now
captured a glimpse of what appears to be just such a
Higgs Boson like particle.
British Physicist Peter Higgs of the ‘Higgs-Boson’
is a familiar name in the world of science. However,
it is not well known that the term Boson, owes its
name to the pioneering work of the late Indian
physicist, Satyendra Nath Bose. He is a forgotten
hero, even in India, even though he won a world wide
fame for his association with the great Albert
Einstein in developing a theory of the particle-like
qualities of light. His pioneering work on the
quantum theory of light provided the foundation for
Bose-Einstein Condensates, a new state of matter in
which thousands of atoms condense into a single
giant atom that behaves like a wave. Particles that
follow Bose’s statistics have been named bosons in
Who was Satyendranath Bose?
Satyendranath Bose was born on January 1, 1894 in
Calcutta (now Kolkata). His father Surendranath Bose
was employed in the Engineering Department of the
East India Railway.
As a student of the Hindu High School, Bose once was
awarded 110 marks out of 100 in mathematics because
he had solved some problems in the exam paper by
more than one method. He made a name for himself in
school due to his love for science.Later he attended
the Presidency College also in Calcutta, where
another noted scientist Meghnad Saha was his fellow
student. Bose came in contact with teachers like
Jagdish Chandra Bose and Prafulla Chandra Ray, who
provided inspiration to aim high in life.
In 1924, while working as Reader in the Physics
Department of University of Dacca, Bose wrote a
paper on novel way of counting states with identical
particles. This paper was seminal in creating the
very important field of quantum statistics. His
paper was not accepted for publication at once.
Not losing heart, Satyendranath Bose sent the
article directly to Albert Einstein in Germany with
a request to help it get published in the leading
German language science journal Zeitschrift fur
Physik. In his covering letter to Einstein, Bose
wrote “though a complete stranger to you, I do not
feel any hesitation in making such a request.
Because we are all your pupils though profiting only
by your teachings through your writings.”
Einstein, recognizing the importance of the paper,
translated it into German and submitted it for
publication on Bose’s behalf. The publication
changed the life of Satyendra Nath Bose. The Dacca
University now opened its eyes and agreed to fund
his tour to Europe, even though he had only
possessed a Master’s degree and no further
Bose first visited Paris in 1924, where he stayed
for a year. He conducted research in the Madame
Curie Laboratory, which had special facilities. The
next year, he left Paris for Berlin to join Einstein
and work with him. There he came into close contact
with noted scientists like Schroedinger and
Heisenberg. He participated in all the meetings and
discussions held there.
While Bose was in Berlin, the post of a Professor
fell vacant in Dacca University. Bose’s friends
persuaded him to apply but he was hesitant, as he
had not got his doctorate yet. A recommendation by
Einstein could have fixed the matter. With great
hesitation, Bose approached Einstein for help.
Einstein was surprised. He said “you are so
proficient in your subject. Is their need for any
other certificate?” He wrote a letter to the
authorities in the Dacca University, which had a
desired effect. In 1926, Satyendranath Bose was
appointed Professor and Head of the Department of
Bose served in Dacca University for nearly 25 years.
As a teacher he was admired by his students who held
him in high esteem. In 1944, when he was the Head of
the Science Section in Dacca University, Bose was
chosen as the General President of the 31st session
of the Indian Science Congress.
Bose, who worked with Albert Einstein to bring out
the Bose-Einstein statistics and the theory of
Bose-Einstein Condensate in the 1920s, was a natural
candidate for a Nobel Prize which he never got. Yet,
at least ten scientists have been awarded the Nobel
for their research in the field of particle physics
based on concepts like the Bose-Einstein Condensate
or the Boson.
'Indians are incapable of achieving anything great
in science. At best, they are experts in subjects
like philosophy “ was the view most held in the West
during those years. Satyendranath Bose dispelled
that impression and did yeoman service in the fields
of science, with some pioneering contributions in
the fields of quantum physics.
Satyendranath Bose was a self-taught scholar who had
a wide range of interests in varied fields including
physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology,
mineralogy, arts, literature and music.
Back home, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore dedicated his
only book on science – Vishwa Parichay to him. The
Government of India conferred the Padma Vibhushan
award on Satyendranath Bose in 1954. At the age of
80, Bose suffered an unexpected and a severe heart
attack and breathed his last on the 4th of February
The CERN experiment has once again brought focus on
Satyendranath Bose. For India God Particle is as
much Boson as Higgs.