Opinion » Comment

Updated: July 5, 2012 04:03 IST

The Bose in the particle

Amit Chaudhuri
Comment (75)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
INDIA LINK: Satyendra Nath Bose in 1925. Photo: The Internet/Siliconeer
INDIA LINK: Satyendra Nath Bose in 1925. Photo: The Internet/Siliconeer

The Higgs bit we know. But the boson? Western science is overlooking India’s contribution

With yesterday’s announcement of the latest findings in the search for the Higgs boson, the elusive particle is on everyone’s mind. This kind of fame is relatively rare, even for important scientific discoveries; but the Higgs boson has been called, or miscalled, the God particle, enabling it to pass into the realm of popular scientific lore, like the discovery of the smallpox vaccine, the structure of DNA, or the theory of relativity.

It would be difficult for most people to understand its significance, just as it would be to comprehend the notion of relativity, but such problems are overcome by locating science in personalities as well as cultural and national traditions. The first thing that you and I know about the Higgs boson is that it’s named after Peter Higgs, a physicist at Edinburgh University who made the discovery — although the original insight, in one of those recurrent back stories of science, was Philip Anderson’s.

Still, we have Higgs, and Edinburgh, and western civilisation to fall back on. The rest — “the Higgs boson is a hypothetical elementary particle predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics. It belongs to a class of particles known as bosons ...” — we needn’t worry too much about. But maybe we should worry just enough to ask, “What is a boson?” since the word tends to come up as soon as Higgs does. Is it, an ignoramus such myself would ask, akin to an atom or a molecule? It is, in fact, along with the fermion (named after Enrico Fermi), one of the two fundamental classes of subatomic particles.

From Bose

The word must surely have some European genealogy? In fact, “boson” is derived from Satyendra Nath Bose, an Indian physicist from Kolkata who, in 1924, realised that the statistical method used to analyse most 19th-century work on the thermal behaviour of gases was inadequate. He first sent off a paper on quantum statistics to a British journal, which turned it down. He then sent it to Albert Einstein, who immediately grasped its immense importance, and published it in a German journal. Bose’s innovation came to be known as the Bose-Einstein statistics, and became a basis of quantum mechanics. Einstein saw that it had profound implications for physics; that it had opened the way for this subatomic particle, which he named, after his Indian collaborator, “boson.”

Still, science and the West are largely synonymous and coeval: they are words that have the same far-reaching meaning. Just as Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec’s paintings digest the Japanese prints they were responding to so we don’t need to be aware of Japanese prints when viewing the post-impressionists, western science is pristine, and bears no mark of what’s outside itself.

Other Indian contributions

The last Indian scientific discovery that is universally acknowledged is the zero. Indians are very strong at maths, and the only modern Indian who’s remotely part of the western mythology of science is Srinivasa Ramanujan, equally well known for his Hindu idiosyncrasies and his agonised stay in Cambridge as he is for his mathematical genius.

Indians can be excellent geeks, as demonstrated by the tongue-tied astrophysicist Raj Koothrappalli in the U.S. sitcom Big Bang Theory; but the Nobel prize can only be aspired to by Sheldon Cooper, the super-geek and genius in the series, for whom Raj’s country of origin is a diverting enigma, and miles away from the popular myth of science on which Big Bang Theory is dependent. Bose didn’t get the Nobel Prize; nor did his contemporary and namesake, J.C. Bose, whose contribution to the fashioning of the wireless predates Marconi’s. The only Indian scientist to get a Nobel Prize is the physicist C.V. Raman, for his work on light at Kolkata University. Other Indians have had to become Americans to get the award.

Conditions have always been inimical to science in India, from colonial times to the present day; and despite that, its contributions have occasionally been huge. Yet non-western science (an ugly label engendered by the exclusive nature of western popular imagination) is yet to find its Rosalind Franklin, its symbol of paradoxical success. Unlike Franklin, however, these scientists were never in a race that they lost; they simply came from another planet.

(Amit Chaudhuri is professor of contemporary literature at the University of East Anglia and author of The Immortals.)© Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2012

More In: Comment | Opinion

Excellent. I would like to add that within the west also, there are similar discrimination. The elements in the periodic table were named differently in Russia, as they claimed that their scientists had discovered them before the western Europeans did. As a matter fact, it is true for other fields like medicine. Even today, Russian medical degrees are not recognized in India, because the British do not do so, One suspects, the reason behind are economical. Russian medical system includes several traditional cures, similar to our Ayurveda, but that goes against the vested interests of the pharmaceutical MNCs.
Finally, it is money that drives the world!

from:  Sanjay Banerji
Posted on: Jul 7, 2012 at 09:45 IST

I fail to see a Western conspiracy or even neglect against Indian science. Only a small fraction of people who are thought to deserve a Nobel Prize actually get it. There is an inherent randomness to the process and also there is a known (& admitted) bias against theoreticians. Even Einstein won it for the photoelectric effect as opposed to his more famous but abstract theory of relativity. CV Raman won it in pre-indepedence days for devising a very simple and elegant experiment. The people who see an anti-India conspiracy would do well to go back to their 12th standard physics text books. SN Bose and CV Raman both find mention there. And one of the first Nobels related to a boson was given to a Pakistani, Abdus Salam. Wonder what the shrill-folk whined about then?

from:  ashokr
Posted on: Jul 7, 2012 at 03:23 IST

The truth is that we in India have no respect for science. Fine - Bose
gave us the 'boson' and 'quantum statistics'. So what did Indian
science do with it? NOTHING. It had to be the west who made something
of his discoveries, build an LHC to show its existence. If we would
have valued science then we would not be telling our children to
singlemindedly, irrespective of their own interest, become engineers,
lawyers or doctors who can earn loads of cash, but rather scientists,
philosophers and biologists. Instead of always crying foul over
perceived injustice, we need to encourage and develop science and
importantly RESPECT AND HONOUR our scientists for their work. All that
is respected in India is wealth and power.

from:  Rishabh
Posted on: Jul 7, 2012 at 02:54 IST

The statement "Other Indians have had to become Americans to get the
[Nobel] award." is patent nonsense. Do you think the Nobel committee would
make such a condition before awarding the prize? I think not.

Also please compare the Majorana fermion which is named after Ettore
Majorana. No-one claims that Enrico Fermi had anything to do with it. It
just happens to be in a class of particles which are called fermions in
his honour.

Also the sentence "Einstein saw that ... it had opened the way for this
subatomic particle..." is not correct. Einstein died in 1955, long before
the Higgs was even dreamt of.

from:  Colin Warwick
Posted on: Jul 7, 2012 at 01:41 IST

It is not clear what the purpose of this article is. I think many comments have done a good job of clarifying the whole issue with bosons, etc.

I think the Hindu paper should publish articles by good science writers who have some knowledge of the subject. Here in the US, good science writers are usually very thorough with their research (and also carry some, and sometimes a lot of, science background).

from:  arjun
Posted on: Jul 6, 2012 at 23:13 IST

The misplaced nationalism of non-scientists is worrying. And why is a
Professor of Contemporary Literature writing on really obscure Particle

The Hindu is a better newspaper than this. Please don't fall prey to
those you mock!

from:  Neel
Posted on: Jul 6, 2012 at 21:35 IST

Indian researchers are generally forced to work alone without a support system. Often they have to short sell their quality work to low rated foreign journals/conferences (same as SN Bose would have to, if Einstein did not step in). For young researchers particularly, the pay is ridiculous and work environment pretty demeaning to one's ego. In short, it totally sucks to be a researcher in India. Unlike the Indians, the chinese are pretty good at taking and giving credit for whatever they achieve. Many top international journals and conferences today have a strong chinese lobby that actively promote works from their own country. The future is pretty obvious. China is going to get better and better while India will remain a country of losers because we don't have a clue on what is really wrong with us.

from:  DG
Posted on: Jul 6, 2012 at 18:51 IST

we are all so proud to take part in the celebration for new breakthrough
in the scientific invention and that too an Indian had played a major
role in determining the"God Particle". Also it is time for our India to
promote such people in the global arena for this great success. Enough
of politics!!!

from:  k subramani
Posted on: Jul 6, 2012 at 18:43 IST

A timely piece of article.History of our country especially of the
ancient times should be learnt afresh. we need a renaissance.

Posted on: Jul 6, 2012 at 15:45 IST

Bose has not been neglected. The name Boson is proof enough. Also, the Bose-Einstein Condensate that got the Nobel few years back is yet another proof. Wright brothers invented the aeroplane. But if someone invents a new supersonic jet, how much credit should be given to Wright brothers? It is ironical that we are neglecting Peter Higgs and all those who worked relentlessly for this result. Btw, the fact that no India got Nobel after Raman is more of a sorry state of Indian Science than anything else. I would like to suggest that Post-colonial criticism may work for literature. It should not be carried too far though - not as far as science anyway.

from:  Raj
Posted on: Jul 6, 2012 at 13:10 IST

Well Said

from:  Drakshayani
Posted on: Jul 6, 2012 at 11:36 IST

what a magnanimity with western scientists and
i quote " Einstein saw that it had profound implications for physics; that it had opened the way for this subatomic particle, which he named, after his Indian collaborator, “boson "

from:  Rajasekaran.S
Posted on: Jul 6, 2012 at 07:56 IST

Well written. There should be a media revolution to sink all the dirty political news and highlight and celebrate our achievements.Achievements in science, art, education, sports etc.
Way to go!!

from:  Bindu
Posted on: Jul 6, 2012 at 07:20 IST

A truly insightful article. One minor extension of the argument, if I may make it: the anti *Italian* bias of the physics world is even stronger actually. The uncapitalized 'f'ermion (named after Fermi of course), and Cabibbo being denied a Nobel Prize are but the most glaring examples. There's another even bigger story - they actually went to the trouble of mysteriously spiriting Majorana away, just to ensure that the contribution of Italian Stock to the world of science would be kept artificially low. Well, they wanted to 'disappear' Bose too, but got the wrong one by mistake.

from:  Prasad
Posted on: Jul 6, 2012 at 06:53 IST

Agree with Rohit. The westerners who are in science do know about S N Bose. And this is not a venue to discuss nationality. I dont think anyone cares where Higgs is from. This is a scientific community and it really does not matter where you were born.

from:  Kanaka
Posted on: Jul 6, 2012 at 01:54 IST

No disrespect to S.N. Bose. He was a great scientist. But higgs boson
has nothing to do with Satyendranath Bose. It is in a class of
particles that follow the Bose Einstein statistics. So does a
multitude of other fundamental particles (photons, gluons, gravitons)
that are not leptons or quarks. The higgs mechanism is a very complex
process of spontaneous symmetry breaking in the Electro-weak theory
discovered long after the death of Dr. S.N. Bose. The boson comes from
the class of the particle that signifies that integral spin particles
have their probability amplitudes added for direct vs exchange instead
of subtracted (the case for (n+1)*1/2 spin particles). Neither does it
have anything to do with "GOD"

from:  Rick
Posted on: Jul 6, 2012 at 00:01 IST

This article is the perfect example of every Indian's obsession of finding even the remotest possible link to anything that is globally famous and then cribbing about us Indians not getting our due "credit".

What does the author of this piece desire? That just because we have discovered a particle that merely belongs to "class" of sub-atomic particles whose name is an eponym of an Indian scientist, scientists, researchers and media from all over the world should sing songs of praise about him?

And the example of The Big Bang Theory was totally irrelevant. Sheldon is supposed to be the hardcore nerd. That's the story! All the Jews in the world don't raise a hue and cry for Howard being the only person not having a Ph.D. and getting frequently picked by Sheldon for the same.

I say this with due respect to the legendary genius S. N. Bose, who I greatly revere! The very fact that a complete class of particles is named after Him shows that westerners don't overlook our contribution.

from:  Adarsh
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 23:45 IST

well said.. unknown true statement about indians

from:  muthubharathi
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 22:38 IST

@Angeala Alvares: Please give it a rest, will you! I mean bashing nuclear energy at every forum no matter how unrelated the topic may be! India is not Norway whose whole population is lower than that of a major Indian city and which has more oil & gas money than it knows what to do with! Please enlighten us on how Norway plan to produce this hydrogen fuel, from what and at what expense! Then compare the that process in Indian context and let us know if that is feasible for a country that barely has any natural gas to feed its fertilizer plants! Perhaps India should engage in research to design a power plant that will produce free electricity out of thin air and no need for coal or nuclear power any more!

from:  Jitendra Dutta
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 22:36 IST

I agree with Mr. Rohit Chatterjee comments. We need to stop being over-sensitive. Concept of bosons existed long before Higgs-boson were discovered but there were no hue and cry from Indian media. SN Bose lived till 1974 but how much recognition did he get in India, how many Indians knew of him before Higgs-boson name controversy! Before pointing finger to the west we need to look inwards. How much encouragement or recognition provided to people engaged in basic research in India! I feel the only people who are valued these days are doctors, engineers, MBAs while others lament about money being 'wasted' in CERN on 'exotic' research. As for the name, both fermion (after Enrico Fermi) and boson names are not capitalized in particle physics, it is not some western conspiracy, just get over it! Better yet encourage your children to pursue a career in basic sciences and who knows someday an Indian in India would devise the scientific holy grail of an unified force field theory!

from:  Jitendra Dutta
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 22:29 IST

I am sorry to see everyone celebrating Bose only now that the term "Boson" is being flagged around in newspapers. Boson is a class of subatomic particles and as rightly pointed out in many articles, is a term in popular usage for a long time.

But only now are Indians celebrating him because the Europeans have brought back focus to the particle named after him.We should have felicitated Satyendranath Bose long back for his contributions to science. We must introspect within ourselves as to why we neglected his contributions to science for so long instead of blaming Europeans for neglecting him.

from:  Soham Dutta
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 22:20 IST

All said and done the contributions of the stalwarts like Mr. Bose,C.V. Raman cannot be denied.But what I question is that why such contributions from India has been so intermittent? In fact what is needed is serious academic and research base infrastructure in India which none can deny. India could dream of more Nobels and Abels only when it makes an effort to contain the brain drain to the universities of West.

from:  Amit Renu
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 20:45 IST

its time we stop basking in the glory of aryabhatta's zero and learn to hone skills in
our young indians. indians seem to have to leave india to be able to demonstrate our
talents. that why, the latest whiz kid to solve the math problems set by Sir Isaac
Newton was a german of indian origin. there's no doubt that we have good genes,
but we need good teachers to develop skills in our current students and provide
them with a good infrastructure so that they have in incentive to stay in india and
bring glory to our country

from:  Aishwarya
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 20:09 IST

All readers if you would like to get a clear picture of euro-centrism
and western univresalism (which is indeed and oxymoron) please read
"Being Different" by Rajiv Mlahotra in which there is an incisive
diagnosis of viewing the west in terms of eastern paradigms

from:  Srinivasan Bharath
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 19:54 IST

This is a misinforming article written by a layman and creates a wrong exaggerated picture of SN Bose's(read Indian) contribution to physics among the masses.
Other than naming integer spin particles bosons,
the scientific community(western) has honored by SN Bose in scientific discoveries and model that he didn't contribute to
like Bose-Einstein condensation, Bose-Hubbard model. The media wouldn't have been able to bring the India's "glorious" contribution to sciences if the particle was very well called "Higgson". The contribution that is overlooked is that of other five western physicists. The particle ideally should have been named Englert-Brout-Higgs-Guralnik-Hagen-Kibble boson.

from:  R Mathew
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 19:36 IST

It is a well known fact that Nobel Prize is not awarded to theories and postulates. It has to be experimentally proven. The most famous example being Einstein did not get Nobel prize for his greatest work, The Theory of relativity, rather some smaller work with respect to his his stature namely the "Photoelectric Effect". Its often said that Einstein proposed Photoelectric Effect as his wife was complaining for money. My point is, for these people getting a Nobel or not getting, hardly matters, its for "partiotic" lesser mortals like us who count these numbers.

from:  Krishna
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 19:27 IST

I would make a distinction between India's contribution and the contribution of an
Indian but perhaps that was just the over-enthusiasm of the editorial staff. Also, I
am wondering why, for this argument, Abdus Salam should not be considered an

from:  Altaf
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 18:30 IST

The article is well written !
Yes, The man who deserve to be 'overseen' has been 'overlooked'. Of course, his 'idea' is now amongst us but is there a mention? This is what my immediate response is! This response is a common man response who really doesn't know about the 'Past'. I, as a common man don't know, he made a contribution or not? I'll say rather, whom I trust?
Since, I am from Science background and I am living in 'Present Times' I'll say do and get it. The world does not matter. We need to be 'Pro' in things we do and always ready to face the world with all confidence we have in ourselves and our results.
Of-course, I wonder life is not that fair, because if that have been
the case, people like William Astbury, Rosalind Franklin who deserve
the same appreciation and adoration won't be known for what they're
known today! History is perhaps full of numerous such examples in all
sort of disciples if we start diving in.

from:  Mayank Chugh
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 18:25 IST

Though, I do agree with the author's views but the point is we are in 2012 and not in early 19th or 20th century. Though Indians staying in developed countries have made significant contributions, there has been hardly anything significantly noticable from people in India. Perhaps stems from the lack of proper infrastructre and renumeration.
The fact that Bose made the significant contribution is visible from the term "boson" itself. This is how many famous scientists are remembered.

from:  Amit
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 18:19 IST

The Higgs boson article is very much enlighten to our indain science and indian sceintist contribution to the world. but it is unfair to overlooikg the contributions made by an indian to the world science.

from:  chethan
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 18:17 IST

The Western media, and unfortunately some Indian news papers, are completely undermining the original contribution of Bose whose statistical theory helped predict its existence. I think some one should make a formal request to the scietific community (I do not know who that would be, may be public relations at CERN) that the Higgs boson particle be written hyphenated and with capital B as "Higgs-Boson". The Western media is, in my opinion, wilfully ignoring capitalization of B to make it a word rather than a name. Would they dare to write hiiggs-boson?

from:  Raghupati
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 18:10 IST

Rubbish. Yes, there is a bias against what comes from the orient in the
"Scientific Community" of the West. But it is partly justified. Many
Indian journals have very low standards of review and, during my
college days, I have personally seen publications which lack basic
understanding of the subject.
The contributions of great scientists have always been recognized.
Bose's own work is recognized by naming the class of particles as
Bosons. Chandrasekhar who got the Nobel Prize for his work on black
holes would have been happier to have the telescope named after him.
Just go and do a survey of common man and find out how many know
Chandra and how many know equally brilliant scientists like Feynman or
Onsagar. Raman's work is honored by naming his work as Raman Spectrum.
The scientific community has made their names immortal. Let us stop whinging.

from:  Dr.R.Venkataraman
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 17:59 IST

Science is free flowing. No-one can stop/bound its flow. Its not the property of US nor of any European countries.It shows its presence everywhere. You just need to have eyes to observe it.

Our Great Scientists like J.C.Bose, S.N. Bose, Ramanujan and many more have those eyes, they explored the nature and came with their ideas which were of great importance for science and those were well recognized by the science community throughout the world.

Now when an European scientist has observed something new, we should appreciate his work rather than boasting about Indian brain and complaining about not being recognized world wide. Why are we trying to be recognized by Europeans???Why are we not in the position to recognize others???

from:  Prabhat Singh
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 17:59 IST

Indian contributions to physics at least are quite well known and acknowledged within the physics community. Within the popular realm, they remain as well known (or unknown) as people like Paul Ehrenfest or Heinrich Lorentz, who have also made important contributions which take some study to appreciate.

from:  Srivatsan R.
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 17:47 IST

Why do we even need to talk about this! Science is man's understanding of nature; award and recognitions are man's misunderstanding of his own ego. Men of science live in those who seek truth in facts... they live and die in the peace of restlessness due to the answers they seek for they're asking the right question--they're the light.

from:  Abhineet Sharma
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 17:36 IST

Whatever we understand and enjoy in human products instantly becomes ours, wherever they might have their origin-- Rabindranath Tagore. Please stop demarcating the human inventions and discoveries. Let's us enjoy it.

from:  Karthik Krishnamoorthy
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 17:33 IST

Indeed Indians are neglected. The Western history begins with Egypt and Mesopotamia and quickly transcends to Greek and Rome with a passing statement on India and China. The lament is old. Nehru mentions them in his books "discovery of India" and "glimpses of the world History". It is strange that great 1000 scientists does not include the name of Aryabhhatta, Brahmagupta-the mathematician who first noted the properties of zero, Bhaskaracharya and the great Keralite mathematicians who pioneered the idea of calculus. If we come to modern age the name multiplies (U.N. Brahamchari, P.C. roy, P.C. Mahalonobis, C.R. Rao-the father of all the mostly used statistical tests, and so on0. But this is the fate of the weaker races always in history. China has aptly shown that by growing dramatically, now it makes it presence feel in the international arena. Without lamenting, we should first try to be an economically powerful nation. steeped in poverty, nobody will listen to us

from:  Atanu Sengupta
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 16:48 IST

Our institutions have no space for innovative efforts which is the main
driver of scientific research.Instead of criticizing western system we
need to learn from them and remodel our systems to arrest the outflow of
talent.Our Education system had been the main culprit in this regard
where routine/subservient work had been awarded. but things are changing
now as setting up of innovative council, Reforms for entrance in
IIT/NITs.Hope we may produce future "Einsteins" from our soil only.

from:  Mukesh
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 16:45 IST

The contribution of Prof Bose has been duly acknowledged in India as well as abroad and the coining of term 'Boson' includes it. Of course, it's sad if the people of India don't know history of Indian Science. But if someone thinks that the discovery of Higgs boson has anything to do with Bose, I would call it a very far-fetched idea. Bose had initiated an era of quantum statistics and has been appreciated as well as awarded. All the particles following the Bose-Einstein statistics are termed as 'bosons' (a term coined by Paul Dirac) and these include photons, W bosons, Z bosons, gluons and some composite bosons. The existence of these bosons has already been established. The elusive Higgs boson is not something that was predicted by SN Bose, instead conceptualized by Higgs. The work by Bose is too generalized to be associated with the discovery of Higgs boson. In fact, all the thrill unique about the Higgs boson has nothing at all to do with Bose.

from:  Bal Krishnan
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 16:43 IST

An article very appropriate and topical for the sensationalized news.
Unfortunately most of us do not understand the significance of the
discovery! Just soaking in the information about the origins of the
word "Boson"!! A reader says it was in the std. 12 Physics, but
unfortunately most of the students in std. 12 science are cramming up
the syllabus to score more and move on to a "respectable" professional
course. The sad state of education is such that we do not know and
respect our amazing scientists, and do not enjoy the prescribed
syllabus as we should. Others will take us seriously only if we give
respect to our own.
Thanks for sharing this enlightening information!!

from:  Harshada Rajadhyaksha
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 16:38 IST

Does this mean that every time we discuss electrons we need to mention
the name of JJ Thomson? Or do we need to mention Rutherford every time
someone discovers something related to protons? The Boson is a particle.
The time for lauding SN Bose was when the particle was discovered. That
time has past.

from:  Somaiah
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 16:36 IST

Other Indian scientists has to become US or Western citizens to get Nobel prize for their contributions. This is very much true !!

from:  Suresh
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 16:35 IST

The latter half of the article reminds me a lot of the book Orientalism by Edward Said. Sure as many of the people said here, India's poor bureaucracy can be stated as a reason why Indians haven't been able to acheive world wide fame and success, without going to other lands and representing these foreign lands. But we also have to understand what the West does. Things that are created or discovered by the west are given more detailed coverage and recognition and things found by Indians are often made to look western. Even when Bose went with his discovery to Einstein, even he attached his own name to it and released it as Bose-Einstein statistics.

from:  A.Prashanth Narasimhan
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 16:24 IST

Both in case of Ramanajun and Bose we should also recognize the
humility of Prof Hardy, Head of Mathematics at Cambridge, and
Einstein. Ramanajun, who was completely unknown, sent his research
papers to Prof Hardy who was graciousness enough to recognize its
originality and thereafter he sponsored his visit to London and
then rest is history, so also in case of Bose.

from:  Hiten Mehta
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 16:16 IST

A well written article. But instead of putting the entire blame on the
"west" may be we have to also point out to the fact that Indian
scientists have not been adequately represented through our scientific
associations and institutions. They should take a leaf from Indian
associations like NASSCOM who have marketed the Indian IT industry to
the world with vigor even though the talent level when compared to
institutions like IISC, Calcutta University, and other venerable
instituions in India are at best mediocre.

from:  Sohom Roy
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 15:39 IST

Thanks to the writer. How many indians know who is Satyendra Bose. It is ridiculous to blame others for not acknowledging Indian Scientists, as we indians ourself do not do.

from:  Divya Govindraj
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 14:43 IST

The article is a bit of embarrassing and uninformed in the guise of patriotism. As some others above have commented a Boson is a particle with integer spin as contrasted to fermions with half integer spin. Bosons obey Bose-Einstein statistics and Fermions obey Fermi-Dirac statistics. There are no limits to the number of Bosons that can be in a particular quantum state whereas no two (or more) electrons (an example of the fermion class)can be in the same quantum state.

SN Bose's reputation is secure in the history of quantum physics, and he does not need such cheer leaders, even if not mentioned and why should he be because he did not and could not have, given the state of the science predict the existence of Higgs Boson.

from:  S Srinivasan
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 14:11 IST

India has to stop the internal squabbles and concentrate to stop the brain drain or else all our inventions would be sweeped under the carpet.

from:  Archana
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 13:34 IST

Why all these scientific minds cannot find some solutions to the basic sanitation improvement in India?

from:  Chandrasekaran
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 13:24 IST

We must show a lot more respect for them, reward them richly, populatize them (erect monuments, name libraries in their names, establish scholarship funds in their names, name major streets in their name, etc). They are the leaders our children should aspire to. This can happen only if something similiar to above is done.

from:  Mano
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 12:56 IST

Stop associating science with nationality.If a layman requires cultural connections to understand science,I'd rather he not understand it at all. The Boson was well known,it is the "Higgs" Boson which has been confirmed.Hence,the focus on Higgs and not Bose.Don't make it a big deal.

from:  Benjamin D.
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 11:57 IST

I think Amit Chaudhary has written an insightful and informative piece...despite some possible slip-ups. What is key is that Boson is named after S N Bose and that must be recognised and trumpeted to the world.

from:  Murty
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 11:56 IST

Nice article and thanks to Mr Chattopadhyay for putting Bose's findings in context. Of course, the practical implications of Bose-Einstein condensates are being recognized only now.
The article is to be commended for making another general comment. Certainly the recognition of Indian science and scientists by the western world is poor. But part of the problem is we Indians ourselves. A scientist known to me told me of the following incidence when he went for an interview for promotion. 'You don't have any ambition to publish in Nature or Science'. When this scientist replied that he published this in the Indian journal becuase it was his best finding which he wanted to come in an Indian journal, his superiors laughed away with derision his contributions made in an Indian journal and denied him his promotion.
Until we Indians respect our own people nobody else and the Nobel prize for an Indian scientist working in India will be a dream only.

from:  Raman
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 11:45 IST

I was thinking of sharing this article with my friends out of misplaced
patriotism. Now, after reading letters from Mr. Chatterjee and Mr.
Chattopadhyay, I am in two minds. May be they are right. This is time
for us to fathom 'God's particle.' This is no time to indulge in vain
summaries or else we will be left far behind in the world of science
that is growing too fast to even grasp!

from:  N Krishnamurthy
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 10:52 IST

Easy to blame others! We have allowed ourselves to be ruled for more
than 1,200 years by all and sundry and ahve been so much subjugated
that our DNA has got a complex so much ingrained into it in terms of
inferiority, that we constantly need approbation and applause from the
west! Who stops us from inventing and going ahead without waiting for
accolades from the West?

from:  Rajan
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 10:51 IST

@Rahul Jareda - Your lament for "our glorious scientific past"
seems a little shallow when you invoke Vedic Mathematics as an
example. Vedic Mathematics isn't what most Indians think it is: a
alternative system of maths that was followed during vedic times,
finding its origin in our Vedic texts. In fact, Vedic maths was
introduced by Bharati Krishna Tirthaji Maharaja in the early part
of the 20th century. The Tirthaji claimed that he found these
after extensive study of the Vedas but no one else has been able
to find these anywhere in the Vedas. Further, Vedic math is not
some path breaking system. It is a system of calculation and a
bag of tricks and shortcuts to simplify calculations. Similar
systems have been part of other medieval cultures such as Romans
and Greeks.(Source - Alex's Adventures in Numberland, Alex
Of course, we have plenty to be proud about in our tradition and
history. We don't really need to cling to fantasies.

from:  Raamganesh
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 10:35 IST

A well articulated article by Prof Choudhury.India was made economically poor by the western invasions! Indians became submissive and subservient to westerners like cattles being domesticated! Notwithstanding the illustrious past and glorious forefathers who pioneered civilization and scientific views of the world today Indian scientists are made to suffer by self seeking politicians who are afraid to see interlligentia around and drive them away to foreign shores to showcase their talents and why should we then claim that they are Indians?

from:  Rajendran
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 09:57 IST

Bose is probably one of the last great Indian scientists we had. Interesting to find 'boson' is derived from his name. I wish we had scientists of his stature and integrity today which India sadly lacks due to the rush into the IT craze. I read today NOGER a Norwegian company will be now replacing 60 european cancelled orders for nuclear plants with Hydrogen fuel and supplying electricity also with hydrogen fuel while we poor Indians are stuck with deceitful engineers who push themselves as nuclear physicists and are still only promoting outdated copied expensive and deadly. inherently dangerous nuclear power plants that will end up ruining this country's health,and chances of prosperity and leave our children with deadly plutonium waste. The idle boast of using waste plutonium is even more dangerous and implausible as Japan had tried the fast breedors and with all their technology have not been successful
Shame on this government for still pushing outdated modes of power generation

from:  Angeala Alvares
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 09:38 IST

The article is well founded in facts but ,in my opinion, the thread connecting those facts is wrong one. Surely, Indian science and scientists have been ignored for too long in contemporary science but the culprit in this situation is not Western countries alone. What do we expect when our own fellow men are unaware of our glorious scientific past. When we have Vedic mathematics (far superior than western counterpart) and still promote and propagate the western concepts.
The situation calls for an immediate response by introducing and creating enthusiasm about our own contribution to science among Indians. Perhaps then we could blame the Western people for ignoring our contributions. For if we are unaware of our own strengths then we can't blame others for not recognizing our might.

from:  Rahul Jareda
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 09:36 IST

not just 0 all the modern digits 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9 are Indian... but even
our text books wrongly call them Arabic numerals.... which is outright shameful... Arabs just passed them on to Europe who were counting like I-V-
VII... etc...

the modern day wireless communication via radio waves is based on J C Bose
designs, marconi simply took his designs and built a practical radio...

there are countless fallacies like this regarding India's scientific
contribution ...our gov should at least make an effort to teach this to our
kids in the text books... correct all the mistakes in the school books...

from:  shashi
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 09:29 IST

indeed!there are so many indian scientists whose contributions have been one knows this,because even our textbooks dont mentioin
indian scientists and their contribution to science.

from:  santosh
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 09:15 IST

The author deserves kudos for this insightful article. As a German
scientist .I have always been intrigued as to why seminal works by
Indian scientists go unrecognized! Indeed Satyen Bose did not get the
Nobel he richly deserved-in fact he was elected to the Royal Society
more than 20 years after his paper was published. Saha again deserved
the Nobel but did not!

It may be worthwhile to refer to Philip Barker's classic book TOP
happened to read in the reference section of the Nobel Library which
has a copy .It is the identification of the top 1000 names in science
after a poll in 80 universities around the world .The only sag is that
it stops at 2000! Nine Indians make it to the list-the 2
Boses,Bhabha,Chandrasekhar, Ashoka Jahnavi Prasad, Saha, Khorana
,Ramanujan and Raman! Of these Chandra and Khorana had become US
citizens !

from:  Wolfgang Kampchen
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 08:54 IST

To the best of my knowledge the following sentence is
erroneous:"Einstein saw that it had profound implications for physics;
that it had opened the way for this subatomic particle, which he
named, after his Indian collaborator,“boson.”"

The term Boson was coined NOT by Einstein but by the great British
physicist P. A. M. Dirac. Also,Einstein and Bose were NOT
collaborators.There is no joint work.Einstein understood importance
ofBose's work and immediately generalized it.

It is also not correct to say that Bose "realised that the statistical
method used to analyse most 19th-century work on the thermal behaviour
of gases was inadequate" What he did was to use statistical principle
to a photon gas - something that was not done before and was indeed a
stroke of genius - and DERIVED the Planck formula. This was the FIRST
internally consistent derivation of Planck law.

I do not know whether Mr. Chaudhury has a science back ground - if
not, he should have checked with people who know.

from:  Utpal Chattopadhyay
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 08:40 IST

mr. chaudhuri is being oversensitive. bose-einstein statistics could
have been called einstein statistics, and bosons could have been
called something else. the fact is that bose is only remembered
because of the west; the same is true of raman and ramanujan.

indians don't respect science. we respect engineering/medicine/law
(to make money), and for matters of truth we turn to religion.

we love to complain about what the west does not do for us, we will
never do anything about it (one can also substitute "government" for
"west" in the previous sentence).

from:  Rohit Chatterjee
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 08:39 IST

I sense a 'we have been dealt a raw deal' syndrome from the article. Amit's frustration with the Nobel Committee in not acknowledging the contribution of Dr SC Bose and Dr JC Bose is misplaced. Both the physicists couldn't have cared about the awards and prizes, they had the entire universe to conquer. The origin, race or the color of the skin of one does not form parameters to win the coveted prize,

from:  Mani Sandilya
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 07:37 IST

Of course, the west does ignore the contributions of not only india but all of east. but why
bother about the west ??? India should strive to become a center of science and
innovation. India should create scientific literature and acknowledge it's achievers in

That is the way to go. A case in point is the Nobel prize. Most people know the selection
process is strongly biased towards the west. Why cannot india take an initiative to institute
a prestigious award for science and arts? Then Indian scientist and scientists across Asia
could be commemorated for their achievements instead of waiting in vain for the Nobel
prize committee to do the same.

We are the nation of Srinivasan ramanujans ,Boses, Ramans, aryabhattas and many more
stalwarts. We can do it if we have the will. Never mind the west.

from:  Swarna
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 07:19 IST

Anyone who has paid attention to physics in 12th std knows that bosons are named after S.N.Bose. There is no perceived conspiracy here, unless perhaps if your training is in "contemporary literature". And as for Indian scientists not winning Nobels, try to visit institutes like BARC. If Nobels were awarded for bickering, dishonesty, and long tea breaks, we would surely win all of them.

from:  mahesh
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 07:04 IST

Very shrill misplaced nationalism indeed! Coming from a professor in
the west, it is disturbing. Till yesterday, how many people in India
had even heard of S.N.Bose? Long before yesterday, long before the
Indian media, the origin of the word "boson" was clearly attributed to
the great Indian physicist in "western" journals and websites.In a
number of instances both the Oscar and the Nobel prize have been
proved to be gravy trains, open to manipulation, pressure tactics, and
cynical marketing/branding -- which have adversely affected many
"western" careers too. Let us not get jingoistic at this juncture --
instead let us ponder on Bose's achievements despite adversities and
why and how since then we have transformed our nation into its present

from:  Jay Ravi
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 06:52 IST

Most coverage in India including this article repeatedly make the same error of calling the
new particle Higgs boson instead of Higgs Boson. It is based on the names of two
scientists and one has to access western media to see the correct representation. So
Indians can be excused for not knowing that boson is based on the name of one of their
known. After all our text books still teach our children that it was Kepler who discovered the
elliptical orbits of planets just a few hundred years ago using a telescope. Never mind that
most planets with their orbits and the precise time of eclipses were known and documented
in India a thousand years earlier.

from:  Viswanath
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 06:48 IST

Well a lot forget to realize that there is something called Chandra's limit, the point
beyond which a star either implodes or explodes... and when I say a lot I mean the
author of this article too. But a really nice job in portraying the stand of Indians in
the society of Science.

from:  Panamalai Gururaj
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 06:35 IST

well written article.It is unfortunate that the names and works of
Indian scientists and mathematicians were swept under carpet by
westerners.People know more about 'Higgs' than about 'Boson'.It is time
Indians are exposed to innovations right from early stages of their
lives so that they create their own inventions, theories and publish in
international journals.This can happen only by investing more on science
and technologies by Government with a seperate ministry on scientific

from:  Raman
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 05:33 IST

"Other Indians have had to become Americans to get the award"

If you take a deeper look into this, you will find that promising talent
from India were forced to move to the US to pursue their dreams simply
due to senseless bureaucracy.
Let's face it, there is really not a very good environment for original
thought and innovation in India and its getting worse. At least these
people got their due in the US.

from:  Akshay R
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 05:18 IST

I am glad that The HINDU published an article to provide the back-ground story of Higgs-boson particle. I always wonder why The Hindu is unable to provide the full story of SN Bose and his contribution to the particle physics. I tis really an unfortunate story. just because Prof Bose sent his manuscript to Einstein for his review, Einstein put his name also to it. Here, Einstein's contribution is to translate into German language and sending to a German Journal That is it. Such a cheap stake!! Why Indian news media do not provide enough recognition to our own people??? It is high time that the particle should be BOSON, not a boson.

from:  Narahari Reddy
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 05:08 IST

Thanks for shedding the light on the origins of the word "Boson". Very timely and

The author is correct about the past. However, I think India (along with China) has
a great opportunity to reclaim its rightful position in the history. Our dominance in
riches was lost about a thousand years ago because of internal divisions and
squabbling. We are at a crucial crossroads now and let's make careful choices in
politics, economics and education to drop the ball again ... or we may have to live
with the consequences for another thousand years.

from:  Srini Venkat
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 04:58 IST

well said

from:  Ramamoorthy
Posted on: Jul 5, 2012 at 04:49 IST
Show all comments
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
The Hindu presents the all-new Young World



Recent Article in Comment

Festering since 2011, the protests over CSAT intensified this year, primarily
because of hopes that the new government may be more inclined to overturn a decision of its predecessor. Picture shows one such protest near Tughlak Road Police Station, in New Delhi, last week. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

Seeking a level playing field

Does the new aptitude test introduced in the Civil Services prelims give a head start to English-speaking candidates and those from technical background? »