"You Don't Know Who He Was? Half the Particles in the Universe Obey Him!"

This is how a physics professor once introduced Satyendra Nath Bose to his students. While the name 'Higgs' in the Higgs boson is attributed, and is well known, to Peter Higgs, the name boson comes from Satyendra Nath Bose, who is often overlooked.

As the 'higgsteria' sweeps around the world, some voices seem to divide the scientific community on the basis of national borders. While it is meaningful to acknowledge the contributions of all physicists in the discovery of Higgs boson, there is no reason to portray it as some sort of competition, where the frontrunners take pride in winning the medals.

The announcement about the discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson is truly a breakthrough moment in many ways. It definitely brings an end to the endless debates that had been raged in the past about its existence, although many features of the new particle are yet to be revealed to claim a full scientific discovery. Its massive appeal to the public psyche is well known, mainly due the "God Particle" label. However, there is still a largely unknown piece that links this particle to its bigger family of bosons.


Bose was born in the Indian city of Calcutta in 1894. He was a lecturer at the Calcutta University College of Science from 1917 to 1921, and then became a reader in physics at the University of Dacca. His greatest recognition came in 1924, when he send a paper on quantum statistics directly to Einstein, after being rejected by a British journal, who realizing the importance of the work, translated it into German and published it successfully.

As a result of this recognition, Bose secured a scholarship to travel to Europe where he conducted research at the Madame Curie Laboratory. Also, he spent time with many other heavy weights of physics including Einstein in Berlin. Their collective work, known as Bose-Einstein statistics, governs the quantum rules for bosons, similar to Fermi-Dirac statistics meant for fermions. This work also lead to the prediction of state of matter called Bose-Einstein condensate formed by atoms cooled to temperatures very near to absolute zero, which was experimentally created in 1995.

The standard model of particle theory postulates that the normal matter, which creates stars, planets and even life, is made possible by the fundamental particles called Fermions (like electrons-the basic unit of charge) and Bosons (like photons-the basic unit of light). In fact, we manipulate these particles in our everyday life so much that they have been employed to control anything from electronic circuits to solar cells.

In the early moments of the big bang, particles zipped through the available universe and they were massless. Then there was the Higgs filed that dragged the particle and they felt mass for the first time, so suggests the Higgs mechanism.

It is assumed that the Higgs bosons are responsible for providing mass to everything in the universe. What kind of interaction generates mass? This age-old question demanded a scientific explanation. The physicist Peter Higgs proposed a clever and elegant solution to this problem. In his hypothetical model, the particle masses arise from complex and beautiful interactions they have with pervading Higgs field. Different particles interact with the Higgs field with different strengths, making them heavier or lighter.

Specifically, Higgs boson was the result of imagination and theoretical studies done half a century ago by physicist Peter Higgs. He deserves the highest level of recognition and is close to knighthood or even a Nobel Prize. On the other hand, Bose himself was not awarded the Nobel Prize, though it was given more than one occasion in the past to the research field initiated by him. Yet, half the particles in the universe obey him. That itself is a huge recognition!!

The Indian particle man died in 1974. His legacy is more imperative today than ever as the scientific world continues its effort to understand our universe better.

In my opinion, science must transcend the national borders, religion and race; it's the journey of an entire civilization rather than any single nation. Let's celebrate the discovery of Higgs boson or at least its avatar.