Scientists at Europe's CERN research centre have found a new subatomic particle that could be the Higgs boson, the basic building block of the universe. It is well known that the 'Higgs' of Higgs boson is refers to British physicist Peter Higgs, who in 1964 laid much of the conceptual groundwork for the presence of the elusive particle. However, it's not exactly common knowledge that the term "boson" owes its name to the pioneering work of the late Indian physicist, Satyendra Nath Bose.
Bose, who worked in Kolkata and Dhaka, was a contemporary of Albert Einstein. He made important contributions to the field of quantum physics in the 1920s that changed how particle physics has been studied ever since.
Satyendranath Bose was born on the January 1, 1894 in Calcutta (now Kolkata). His father Surendranath was employed in the Engineering Department of the East India Railway. Satyendranath Bose was the eldest of his seven children; the rest were all daughters.
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; in collaboration with some of his friends, he constructed a telescope and other scientific instruments.
Between his graduation from Presidency College in Kolkata and Masters from Calcutta University, Bose married Usha Devi at the age of 20. He joined the Physics Department of Calcutta University in 1916. In 1921, he moved to the University of Dhaka where set up whole new departments and laboratories to teach undergraduate and graduate courses.
In 1924, he sent a paper to Einstein describing a statistical model that eventually led to the discovery of what became known as the Bose-Einstein condensate phenomenon. This transformed Bose's life. The Dhaka University realised the worth of its prized possession, sending him off to Europe on a tour, even though Bose only had a Master's Degree in Science and had no higher academic qualification.
After a written recommendation from Einstein, who Bose had worked with Berlin, Bose was appointed Professor and Head of the Department of Physics in 1926.
After 25 years in Dhaka, Bose moved back to Kolkata in 1945, and continued to research and teach there till his death in 1974. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India's second highest civilian award, in 1954.
In what may only be termed as a grave oversight, Bose was never considered for the Nobel Prize. 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 - the last one in 2001, when Eric Allin Cornell, Carl Edwin Wieman and Wolfgang Ketterle were awarded for "the achievement of Bose-Einstein condensation in dilute gases of alkali atoms, and for early fundamental studies of the properties of the condensates."
Story first published:
July 04, 2012 21:55 IST