In the news coverage of the CERN event, we got to see, or read about, Higgs getting emotional at the event and wiping his tear drops away. It is way beyond my imagination as to how exhilarating his love affair with physics would be.
In the few minutes before the idiot box, I didn't notice a single newscaster even remotely comment anything about the second part of the Higgs Boson. Yes, I refer to the boson.
Perhaps boson has stayed in my head forever because I am from India? The connection is this: "boson" is named after the mathematical scientist, S.N. Bose. Bose's life story is like the mother of all "I don't get no respect" stories.
Despite Bose's huge contribution to science, the only lasting legacy is the SN Bose National Centre for Basic Science that was established by an Act of Parliament in 1986. Though honoured with the Padma Vibhushan in 1954 and appointed National Professor in 1959, the scientist failed to grab the imagination like Swamiji, Gurudev, Subhas Bose or even Sourav Ganguly. Known to worship its heroes, the city let down one of its most brilliant sons.
Not even to the level of Sourav Ganguly!
Tagore dedicated his only book on science Visva-Parichay to Bose. "What's remarkable about Bose is that he was a self-taught scholar with a wide range of interests - physics, mathematics, chemistry, biology, mineralogy, philosophy, arts, literature and music. He did his best to promote science among the people by translating scientific papers into Bengali. Bose's contribution to the world was as much as the more celebrated heroes of Bengal," said Satyaki Bhattacharya, yet another scientist at SINP who has been associated with CERN.So, why the neglect?
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.I can easily imagine that Bose would have made it big time had he lived in the US, and perhaps become the only Bose that Americans would have heard of, making this guy's life a tad less golden! As for the "god particle" itself, the intellectual aspects of it are way, way over my head. I agree with Robert Wright:
I personally continue to have no idea what the Higgs boson is. And I think the physicists who 'understand' what it is can do so only because they don't have the layperson's compulsion to think about the world in ways that are ultimately metaphorical. Or, at least, these physicists have dropped the idea that to truly understand something is to have a crystal-clear metaphor in your mind, a metaphor that doesn't break down at any point and doesn't contain internal contradictions. For them, apprehending a purely mathematical description of something is tantamount to comprehending it.
For the rest of us, I suspect, the Higgs belongs in the same category as various other parts of modern physics: It is yet more evidence that the human mind, to the extent that it was designed by natural selection to truly comprehend anything at all, was designed to comprehend the macroscopic world, not the microscopic world.