Thinking About The God Particle

On March 7, an email landed in my inbox, containing this amusing graphic.
Also on March 7, newspaper headlines contained blaring headlines about new scientific advancements regarding the Higgs-Boson particle, colloquially known as the God particle.

The Higgs-Boson particle is one of those concepts that are so cerebral that any sustained thinking about it is almost guaranteed to bring on a bout of headache. In a very condensed form, two particles: the boson and the fermion, stand at the heart of the Standard Model, a theory of particle physics that goes quite far in unifying most of the important unresolved questions of quantum mechanics. In the Standard Model, a boson is a sub-particle that denotes mass, while fermion is the sub-particle that denotes matter.

Mass and matter. The two fundamental strands of our existence. How does one go about getting the particles that denote mass and matter named after themselves?

The fermion is named after Enrico Fermi, winner of the 1938 Nobel Prize in Physics, godfather of the Manhattan Project, and one of the titans of twentieth-century science. Schools, medals, and facilities plethora are named after him, as are an element in the periodic table and nuclear reactors all over the world.

What about the boson?

That’s where the story gets interesting. The boson is named after Satyendra Nath Bose, the former head of the Department of Physics and the Dean of the Faculty of Science at Dhaka University. While working as a lowly reader in Dhaka University, Bose articulated what would become known as Bose-Einstein statistics. Even though he was then the most famous scientist in the world, Albert Einstein insisted that Bose’s name came first, recognizing the seminal nature of his work.

Today, scientists in two continents are racing ahead in solving the deepest mysteries of our existence, by trying to locate the existence of a particle named after one of us. Yet, most of us remain blissfully, cheerfully unaware of this fact. And what are our current crop of scientists working on? Can Dhaka University boast amongst one of its current ranks a man or a woman who will leave a similar impact on our understanding of nature?

But, it seems, we are not completely unaware of Dr. Bose. Scroll up again, and look at the picture. The nerdy-looking gentleman on the upper right?  Satyendra Nath Bose sends his regards.

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