Yes, it is official now! British physicist Higgs and Belgian Physicist Englert have been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics. They predicted the existence of the subatomic particle Higgs boson or God’s particle nearly 50 years ago and were proven right last year. So, after a period of 50 years they were still awarded the highest honour for their discovery. But what about the Bose in boson?
Kolkata born physicist Satyendranath Bose is considered the father of the concept of boson particle of the ‘God particle’. But he was not even considered for the Nobel while he was alive. In fact the surprising part is that several Nobel awards have been given for research related to the Boson concept and the one given for Higgs boson is one among many. Well, certainly not the first snub.
According to a science magazine, Bose wrote a paper in 1924 in which he derived Planck’s quantum radiation law without referencing classical physics – which he was able to do by counting states with identical properties. The paper would later verify seminal in making the field of quantum statistics.
Bose sent the paper to Albert Einstein in Germany, and the scientist recognised its importance, translated it into German and submitted it on Bose’s behalf to the prestigious scientific journal Zeitschrift für Physik. The publication led to recognition, and Bose was granted a place of absence to work in Europe for two years at X-ray and crystallography laboratories, where he worked alongside Einstein and Marie Curie, among others.
Einstein had adopted Bose’s thought and extended it to atoms, which led to the prediction of the existence of phenomena that became known as the Bose-Einstein Condensate, a dense pool of bosons – particles with integer spin that were named for Bose.
According to a July 2012 New York Times condition in which Bose is described as the “Father of the ‘God Particle’”, the scientist’s interests wandered into other fields, including philosophy, literature and the Indian independence movement. He published another physics paper in 1937 and in the early 1950s worked on unified field theories.
Numerous Nobel Prizes were awarded for research related to the concepts of the boson and the Bose-Einstein Condensate. Bose was never awarded a Nobel Prize, despite his work on particle statistics, which clarified the behaviour of photons and “opened the door to new dreams on statistics of Microsystems that obey the rules of quantum theory,” according to physicist Jayant Narlikar, who said Bose’s finding was one of the top 10 achievements of 20th-century Indian science.
But Bose himself had responded simply when questioned how he felt about the Nobel Prize snub: “I have got all the recognition I deserve.”
The world did not do justice to the great physicist. But we Indians should not forget the person who was responsible for the God’s particle.