The Boson conundrum and the fishing tendency. Reply

I thought I better not write this article. But finally I changed my mind. Since we are giving so much opinions on the web or anywhere, let there be one more, in the name Higgs Boson.

Before finally I decided I should write something on this topic (Not Higgs Boson but its sociological implications) I came across an article which basically echoes my sentiments, except a few lines here or there. That article and the flurry of articles that are linked to it via various issues given in the target pages will clear up any vexed hiccups you might have regarding the knowledge of what I am going to talk about. A few things I will, most of things are out there.

I have linked the article above and again here; the Hindu article about the euphoria behind Higgs Boson in Indian media and Indian scientific community.

SO I am going to write this article and the main reason of this, is what I wrote above; the euphoria behind Higgs Boson and/or any name and fame seeking discovery in the world of science  and what India has got to do with it. (India as in Indian incorporation, such as “New Delhi today tested the long range Agni Missile”)

First off whats a fishing tendency? In one of my unrelated article/story (or may be related to the tendency of science community of/in India, I may not completely recall) I had described whats a fishing tendency. Imagine 4 people that dived into a pond, and fishing. They came up with some good stock after a lotta tussle. Hours of slogging and mud-clinching saw them get some good stuff for selling or even going for picnic. The Fish Bonanza call it. But the story as it will turn out is different. Neighborhood bullying or rather wealth sharing for the simple fact that some one is mightier or even has been doing this as a matter of traditional gain sharing, just by crooking over those who can’t have any more say than getting a decided share and get lost. In other words some of the share of the fish goes to those who can bully or crook or just produce enough might or number for an outcry, a sadist outcry.

The Indian science community in general shows a lot of fishing tendency. Take any news and media when there are world discoveries there will be a huge sadist outcry about what we deserved. It would be unfair if I were to say India never deserves anything the world has. Indeed India does. But the way we have forgotten that we have a responsibility towards a legit and convincing way of commanding world respect rather than siphoning something through a sadist outcry whence the world will sometimes feel pity and just give it which we can then paint as “they gave up, it was our moral victory”. So there are many news from Indian media regarding how rightfully India is contributing towards international scientific efforts. They are heartfelt and awe-inspiring while at the same time based on authentic and valid contributions. Take the example of the CAT, Indore (Center for Advance Technology) supply the quint essential superconducting magnets for utility at the world  famous CERN lab. Take the example of Indian Neutrino Observatory making some effort towards internationalizing the particle physics experiment in India, to be built for the first time in India. By rightfully claiming our role in the global scientific efforts we create a healthy and sustainable scientific spirit and culture in India while at the same time gaining true respect of the world that needs our trained manpower and intellectual involvement. By trying crook around and fishing on other’s adventures we merely create a very derailed and dangerous spirit of fame seeking organizations and individuals. While even in the west there are bountiful of such example we need not come to their fold and spoil our hard earned chances of being respectable and prestigious partners of scientific progress. And there are tons of examples that this is exactly what Indian science community and academia suffers from. Hailed as world renowned scientists but found in globbery role playing and plagiarizing. Missing from the actual work but showing up in celebrations. Inspiring others but failing on conceptual and skilled contribution in science and being hailed as luminaries. There would be tons of rotten examples of what really is so despicable in our kind of science and academia. They will only be fulled by such euphoria that have no basis but our whimsical and wishful self gratification.

Why is that so? Why is claiming credits for Higgs Boson as a great piece of scientific contribution by Bose an undesirable act of fishing?

There are a few reasons.

Boson is not a name, hence not an honor towards Bose the scientist when we consider the so called Bosons in the field of particle physics or rather more specifically for the discovery of a Higgs Boson, because Higgs is a name and an honor. Boson is a category and this category is named by the scientist Bose. And its not only Bose but also Einstein. The same way electron’s discovery is credited to Thomson when Fermi was not even born. But the electron is a Fermion. In-fact there are 1000s of particles that have been discovered or potentially to be discovered and they are almost all of them Fermions. That does not mean Fermi-Dirac Statistics is more important than the Bose-Einstein statistics. To whom it may concern for the sake of information, there are perhaps less than 15 Bosons. Check that number 1000 with 15 and see the fact that Bose was not necessarily lesser capable than Fermi or Dirac. So are we really honoring Bose or reducing his value by this kind of argument. Fermi was not a scientist who directly contributed to the theorisation or discovery of tons of particles. Lets say he is involved with 5 fundamental or important particles. There are still 1000 by his name. Here comes a glitch that you may not realize if you are not an expert. One would say Fermi’s work led the ground work for discovery of many more. Thats true. But less so is true for Bose and Einstein. But the contribution of Dirac towards such a ground work from where the potential discovery of important particles were enhanced is much more. Why is that so? You have to know the scientists and what their work was, not what their nationality was.

As scientists Einstein and Bose were not particle physicists. Less so Einstein did not even believe in Quantum Mechanics which later he had to recant, but Quantum Mechanics as developed by others (Schrodinger, Dirac, Heisenberg, Feynman, Bohr et al) is the most important basis of Particle Physics as a research field. Einstein while is credited for a seed idea of Quantum Mechanics (photo electric effect) did not do any direct seminal work in Quantum Mechanics (except its most important philosophization and refinement of some concepts. Plus what is under the lens here: Bose-Einstein statistics is a principle to study sample behavior of a bunch of same kind of particles called as Boson for brevity, but not their discovery or hypothesis, as individual particle) . What Einstein’s real contribution towards particle physics would be Special Relativity (or Relativistic kinetics which is used every hour in any Particle Physics lab and papers) and the statistical principle known by his namesake Bose-Einstein statistics which was rather the work of Bose only, Einstein made sure it gets the right attention and vibe of the Physics community. Relativity and BE statistics are useful towards the fundamental study of Particle Physics. But Higgs Boson is way more out of league when it comes to painting it as a Boson and crediting Bose or even Einstein. Higgs Boson isn’t even understood so far really well by the Physics community at large (except if you ask me I would say this or that about the particle without understanding much in depth) Thats even if you understand the Bose Einstein statistics fully well. Each particle in Particle Physics is uniquely difficult to understand experimentally and once more difficult theoretically, and mind it there are 1000s of particles that even Fermi, Dirac, Bose or Einstein would have ever dreamed of.

All this is diverting simply because Particle Physics as a branch of science was in its adolescence in the 1940s, from when it grew massively and humongous amount of knowledge was created into it. What Bose, Einstein, Dirac and Fermi worked was on the basic seminal work of Quantum Mechanics and not even Quantum Electrodynamics or Quantum Field Theory which are much more advanced fields of development from Quantum Mechanics. It would be slightly incorrect (and in case of Dirac strongly incorrect) to say Fermi or Dirac did not do those advanced works in say QED or QFT. But the fact is by the 1960s when Particle Physics was yet to see its Golden period in theory and in experiment all of these scientists were deceased or in their grey hair counting on what best could be written about their obituaries. Their work was seminal but wasn’t touching even tangentially the gravest concerns of the most of the particles and processes to be discovered in particle physics (a complex myriad arrangement of particles whose special understanding would even be oblivious to the best of the best) by the time they were already unproductive. And Fermi died really really young. Bose quite late into 1974 and Dirac much later into 1984. But the idea of their end-of-life phase and the fact Bose was by no means a particle physicist (a specially trained and skillful physicist in experiment or theory of elementary particles eg Dirac, Fermi or Bhabha) holds much significance from the consideration of scientific contribution to be heralded as heroic or seminal or field altering work, whose emission would deserve special notes all across. What deserves credit for Higgs Boson are the names of 4 other scientists who have not been rewarded the Nobel (Kibble, Hagen, Guralnik and Brout {deceased} ) who actually discovered the particle known as Higgs Boson, in the 1960s and wrote seminal papers potentially cited every-time a Higgs is dealt with fundamentally. But between 1960 and 1974 for 14-15 years did Bose write a single paper on Higgs Boson that his apparent “OMISSION” should be termed as a “Hero of Higgs Boson forgotten”? On the contrary he is known pretty well for the work that he actually did.

So the summary is for any credit towards actual discovery in particle physics ends with Dirac and Fermi (or even only Fermi.) (Which is why the most important particle physics lab for decades was named by Fermi, although Feynman the luminary lived till almost end of the last century and did many seminal work for discovery of particles and elementary particle processes such as beta decay hardly has a lab to his name. Consider then Newton and credit him for the discovery of Higgs Boson or consider Ibn Sahl and credit him for discovery of Laser, that would be too out of place and unreasonable. Ibn’s work in optics was seminal, 1100 years ago and we still use this in modern day. But LASER is way out of league)

So Boson is not a name, in honor of any scientist, its a category in honor of two scientists whose work are not directly connected to any of Particle Physics (except relativistic kinetics and the statistical behavior of a bunch of integral spin particles for their theoretical/experimental study, but nonetheless the discovery has hardly any connection that is worth any credible mention without forgoing such connections that can be arbitrarily made to other scientists work and not just Bose or Einstein). Then Particle Physics as a body of research or knowledge may not even be properly known to the scientists Einstein or Bose. (That may not be the case with Dirac and Fermi, more so Fermi, who have had some direct involvement, lets find out exactly which ones). For seminal contributions into a field of research worthy of mentioning names there would be tons of scientists who have had far greater contributions in any work even remotely connected to the Higgs Boson, eg BhaBha’s work is very worthy of mention. While Bose might not be way out of league in Higgs Boson talk, simply because of a categorization of a bunch of particles as a Boson he is not worthy of taking a pie larger than what the media and some fame seekers in the community of science in India are claiming.

As long as Higgs Boson is not a piece of concern, simply because Boson is mentioned it would be an uneducated view point to keep the Boson angle through Bose as a  Forgotten Hero. That would be uneducated and a sadistic cry. Bose does not deserve such maltreatment. He was a capable scientist and had his work shown the kind of scientist he was. He does not need Higgs Boson. He does not need fame seekers and he does not need uneducated praises that he himself might not have liked.

Here are a few quotes to just show you why I felt its sadistic to make comments that have no authenticity in them.

** Satyendranath Bose: Higgs-Boson’s Forgotten Hero.

*** The long-sought particle, known as Higgs boson, is also partly named after an Indian scientist Satyendra Nath Bose, who worked with Albert Einstein in the 1920s and made discoveries that led to the most coveted prize in particle physics. ………….  The name Higgs Boson came from a British scientist Peter Higgs and Bose, who studied at Presidency College, Calcutta, The work done by Bose and Albert Einstein, later added by Higgs, led to this pioneering day.

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