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5.7.12

God! Why did world forget Boson’s father?

As Cern scientists pop the champagne in celebration of finding the Higgs boson, an Indian scientist after whom the God particle is named remains in virtual oblivion.  Media reports are replete with references to Peter Higgs, the British physicist who predicted the existence of such a particle in the early 1960s. But, that a boson - one of the two fundamental classes of subatomic particles - is named after Satyendra Nath Bose who preceded Higgs seems to have got buried deeper than the 27km tunnel under the Franco-Swiss border that hosts science's biggest hunt ever.  Bose, who worked with Albert Einstein to bring out the Bose-Einstein statistics and the theory of Bose-Einstein condensate in the 1920s, was a natural candidate for a Nobel Prize which he never got.

 
But his work on quantum mechanics was so substantial that they named one of the subatomic particles after him.  However, when science's biggest find came, Bose was missing from the limelight, even in India.  "I believe it is a deliberate omission," says P M Bhargava, founder director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology. "This is not the only such case." Top Indian scientists like Bhargava feel that it reflects a general lack of recognition for Indian scientists.  C N R Rao, who heads the scientific advisory council to the PM, says Bose had been historically ignored, both in India and abroad. "Maybe because he was so outspoken. I remember a function addressed by Jawaharlal Nehru, where Bose disagreed with a point Nehru made," says Rao. Bose would have been more popular had he lived in the US, he says.

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