India: Enough about Higgs, let's discuss the boson

Jul 10, 2012 by KATY DAIGLE
A portrait of Indian scientist Satyendranath Bose, is displayed at the Bangiya Vigyan Parishad or the Bengal Science Society founded by Bose in Kolkata, India, Tuesday, July 10, 2012. While much of the world was celebrating the international cooperation that led to last week's breakthrough in identifying the existence of the Higgs boson particle, many in India were smarting over what they saw as a slight against one of their greatest scientists. Media covering the story gave lots of credit to British physicist Peter Higgs for theorizing the elusive subatomic "God particle," but little was said about Satyendranath Bose, the Indian after whom the boson is named. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

(AP) — While much of the world was celebrating the international cooperation that led to last week's breakthrough in identifying the existence of the Higgs boson particle, many in India were smarting over what they saw as a slight against one of their greatest scientists.

Media covering the story gave lots of credit to British physicist Peter Higgs for theorizing the elusive subatomic "God particle," but little was said about Satyendranath Bose, the Indian after whom the boson is named.

Despite the fact that Bose had little direct involvement in theorizing the Higgs boson itself, in India the lack of attention given to one of their own was seen as an insult too big to ignore.

"He is a forgotten hero," the government lamented 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.

The annoyance marks yet another case in the ever-growing list of perceived global snubs Indians feel they suffer, from the U.S. airport searches of Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan to the naming of a superbug after New Delhi, where it was found.

"Indians are touchy about this. All post-colonial societies are touchy about this," said political psychologist Ashis Nandy of the Delhi-based think tank Center for the Study of Developing Societies. "The sooner we get out of that, the better."

Nandy, who interviewed Bose before his death in 1974, said the scientist himself was "least concerned about rankings and prizes."

This undated photo of a painting provided by the Bangiya Vigyan Parishad or the Bengal Science Society in Kolkata, India shows Indian scientist Satyendranath Bose. While much of the world was celebrating the international cooperation that led to last week's breakthrough in identifying the existence of the Higgs boson particle, many in India were smarting over what they saw as a slight against one of their greatest scientists. Media covering the story gave lots of credit to British physicist Peter Higgs for theorizing the elusive subatomic "God particle," but little was said about Satyendranath Bose, the Indian after whom the boson is named. (AP Photo/ Bangiya Vigyan Parishad)

The boson is named in honor of the Kolkata-born scientist's work in the 1920s with Albert Einstein in defining one of two basic classes of subatomic particles. The work describes subatomic particles that carry force and can occupy the same space if in the same state — such as in a laser beam. All particles that follow such behavior, including the Higgs as well as photons, gravitons and others, are called bosons.

Higgs, the English physicist, and others proposed the Higgs boson's existence in 1964 to explain what might give shape and size to all matter. Laymen and the media sometimes call it the "God particle" because its existence is key to understanding the early evolution of the universe.

By then, Bose was living in his Indian city of Kolkata after 25 years running the physics department at Dacca University, in what is now Bangladesh. Bose died aged 80 in 1974. The Nobel is not awarded posthumously.

Indian newspapers decried the fact that Bose was mostly ignored last week when scientists announced the Higgs boson breakthrough, made using a giant atom smasher at the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland.

Bose "remains unmentioned in most news stories about this discovery," read an opinion piece in the Hindustan Times written by Yale University professor Priyamvada Natarajan, who says Western scientists often gain credit for major discoveries.

"It is harder for scientists to be recognized if they are seen as outliers and if their gender, race or work do not let them belong," she said.

The Sunday Times of India noted other eminent Indian scientists who "never got their due," including physicist G.N. Ramachandran who died in 2001 after making biological discoveries like collagen's triple-helix structure and 3-D imaging used in studying the human body.

It also said living Indian scientists, Varanasi-based molecular biologist Lalji Singh and New York-based E. Premkumar Reddy, should be candidates for awards. Both men reportedly said they were not interested in lobbying for prizes.

"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."

Explore further: What is Nothing?

4 /5 (10 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

For India, 'God particle' is as much boson as Higgs

Jul 04, 2012

The release Wednesday of dramatic new data pointing to the existence of the Higgs boson "God particle" sent a special flutter of pride, mixed with frustration, through India's scientific community.

Researchers' data are closing in on Higgs boson particle

Jun 21, 2012

Scientists at the world's largest atom smasher say they have reams of new data that will reveal with greater certainty whether they have already glimpsed a long-sought theoretical particle that could help ...

A closer look at the Higgs boson

Jul 04, 2012

Scientists working at the world's biggest atom smasher near Geneva have announced the discovery of a new subatomic particle that looks remarkably like the long-sought Higgs boson. Sometimes called the "God p ...

LHC to narrow search for Higgs boson

Dec 08, 2011

Scientists at the world's largest atom smasher have new data that shows with greater certainty where to find a long-sought theoretical particle that would help explain the origins of the universe.

Recommended for you

What is Nothing?

Aug 22, 2014

Is there any place in the Universe where there's truly nothing? Consider the gaps between stars and galaxies? Or the gaps between atoms? What are the properties of nothing?

On the hunt for dark matter

Aug 22, 2014

New University of Adelaide Future Fellow Dr Martin White is starting a research project that has the potential to redirect the experiments of thousands of physicists around the world who are trying to identify the nature ...

Water window imaging opportunity

Aug 21, 2014

Ever heard of the water window? It consists of radiations in the 3.3 to 4.4 nanometre range, which are not absorbed by the water in biological tissues. New theoretical findings show that it is possible to ...

User comments : 11

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Jitterbewegung
3.4 / 5 (5) Jul 10, 2012
"The boson is named in honor of the Kolkata-born scientist's work in the 1920s with Albert Einstein in defining one of two basic classes of subatomic particles. The work describes how photons can be considered particles as well as waves such as in a laser beam. All particles that follow such behavior, including the Higgs boson, are called bosons."

No, a boson is defined as a particle that has integar spin. Nothing to do with wave/particle stuff.
antialias_physorg
4.4 / 5 (14) Jul 10, 2012
Bose "remains unmentioned in most news stories about this discovery,"

Well, Maxwell remains unnamed in most news stories on electronics. And you don't head Marie Curie's or Conrad Wilhelm Roentgen's name bandied about whenever there's a news story that has anything to do with x-rays.

This has nothing to do with ignoring Bose and everything to do with mentioning people who were actually, centrally involved in writing the papers that gave rise to the experiment at CERN.
If they'd go back to Adam and Eve every time a discovery is made we'd never see the end of the credits.

Get over it.
ziphead
2.3 / 5 (6) Jul 11, 2012
Indians and they newly found nationalist cojones... now they rub them against anything that moves in the opposite direction.
shayan
3 / 5 (2) Jul 11, 2012
Well,you should consider that things have happened that makes them so sensitive.You can't blame them.
Ryker
2.8 / 5 (4) Jul 11, 2012
If the media isn't overhyping this, then that's just pathetic.
Gigel
3 / 5 (2) Jul 11, 2012
In the history of the Higgs boson's discovery there is certain place for Bose. But when the discovery is treated in a 10-20 - line news article it is very improbable that Bose would appear. Btw, the Higgs boson has a history far richer than Higgs's studies, being theoretically discovered by more people. Such short articles don't go into any depth, they are hardly informative on the field. News is not history, although it would be nice if such articles would go into some depth and come with a story.
adt007ad
4.2 / 5 (5) Jul 11, 2012
Actually, the truth is completely different from what the article says :

1. A scientist belongs to science and humanity, not to a nation.

2. India has long ago got over with that "colonial senti stuff". It is countries like US and UK who hype even small achievements of their individuals to "showcase" their so called "civilization progress" and have still not got over with their "civilization superiority complex".

Since Indian media has started to copy western media since few years (mostly their stupidity...google Justice Katju for what I mean to say), people expect 'em to copy this stuff as well.

3. I am an Indian but at same time respect work of Higgs. Bose's contribution is invaluable but Higgs Boson prediction was solely the work of Peter Higgs. SN Bose need not be mentioned in discovery of every Boson.
Deathclock
2.3 / 5 (3) Jul 11, 2012
"SN Bose need not be mentioned in discovery of every Boson."

Exactly, can you imagine the length of articles if every scientist that had any historical significance to a new discover had to be mentioned? Science builds on itself over time... it would be like mentioning all of the parents, grandparents, great grandparents, great great grandparents, etc all the way back to antiquity of someone who makes an important discovery, it's just not practical.
Pkunk_
not rated yet Jul 15, 2012
Antialias said -
Bose "remains unmentioned in most news stories about this discovery,"

If they'd go back to Adam and Eve every time a discovery is made we'd never see the end of the credits.

Get over it.


There is a perception in India that the work of some scientists like Bose , (esp.) Ramanujam which took place before Independence were largely ignored by the the West because of the superiority complex which existed back then.
For example most Indians think the Nobel peace price is worthless because they never gave it to Gandhi (probably the British policy back then). Also Bose never got the Nobel , one could argue

However as you say it isn't an excuse to "rest on our laurels" , and Indian's should just "get over it". Maybe it's just that some of these Idea's (like Gandhi's) were so different from the Western concepts that that it took a generation for them to be appreciated.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jul 15, 2012
For example most Indians think the Nobel peace price is worthless because they never gave it to Gandhi

The Nobel peace price has been worthless since 1973 (when they gave it to Kissinger). Since then it has been given to lots of warmongers (Sadat, Arafat, Rabin, Perez, Obama).
Yes, it should have gone to Gandhi.

(probably the British policy back then)

The Nobel peace prize is handed out by a committee appointed by the Norwegian parliament.

Finally one should remember that the term boson does not denote a revolutionary new insight. It is simply the quantified manifestation of a field. The Higgs field, however - was an entirely novel idea (and the Higgs boson just a quantized manifestation thereof).
chardo137
5 / 5 (1) Jul 15, 2012
Bose is very important in the history of physics, and everyone who has really looked into it knows that. A Boson is a particle that obeys Bose-Einstein statistics (note that it is Bose, not Einstein, who has his name on the particle type). How many people know the other class of particles (which make up all of what we think of as matter)? It is Fermions. Fermions obey Fermi-Dirac statistics. How many people know who Dirac was? Probably everyone in England. Enrico Fermi may have achieved international fame, but not everyone does. Having your name on an entire class of particle is about as much honor as the physics community can give someone. Yes, Bose is much more important than the media gives him credit for. So are the vast majority of all scientists. That is why entities like phys.org are so important. The name Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar needs to be mentioned here. He won the Nobel prize, and so did his uncle.