Satyendranath #Bose and #GodParticle: Last week there was an unprecedented #excitement all over the world because of the discovery of a sub-atomic particle which played a vital role in the creation of the universe. It was known that the entire universe was made of twelve particles and eleven had been identified and the twelfth particle was elusive.
Now this has been identified and they have called it God particle. We Indians should be proud of this discovery because the new particle has been named Higgs & Boson and the latter being the symbol of Satyendranath Bose, an Indian scientist from Calcutta. Just like neutron, proton, electron etc., Boson is also a particle named after S.N. Bose. Bose is a variant of Basu and that itself is a derivative of Sanskrit word Vasu, a personality of Puranic fame (ashtavasu). Let us see who this Bose is.
Satyendranath Bose was born on Jan. 1, 1894 and had his early education in Calcutta. His mathematics teacher Bakshi gave him 110 out of 100 marks because Bose had solved all the mathematical problems given in the question paper. Then he joined the famous Presidency College in Calcutta and Meghanad Saha was his classmate. He had the good fortune of being a student of stalwarts like J.C. Bose, P.C. Roy and A.C. Maitra, obtained M.Sc. degree and joined the Calcutta University at the invitation of Sir Ashutosh Mukherji. He made an intensive study of thermodynamics and his first research paper on statistical thermodynamics was published from London.
Though he worked in Calcutta University for six years, he was still a temporary lecturer on a meagre salary of Rs. 100 pm. So he migrated to Dacca University as an Asst. Professor. However, he did not get the congenial atmosphere here. But he continued his research in physics and wrote a paper improving upon the theory of wander-wals. His research paper on hydrogen spectrum was considered an important improvement over Bohr-Sommerfeld theory regarding electrons.
In the meantime, Bose translated Einstein's book on Theory of Relativity from original German into English with the help of Meghanad Saha and it was published by Calcutta Varsity.
Then he studied Pauly's theory, propounded a new approach to quantum theory and wrote a research paper. He sent it to Einstein with a request to evaluate it and get it published in a suitable journal. Einstein was greatly impressed by this research paper and discussed it with other scientists and all of them were greatly impressed by the original thinking of Bose.
Einstein translated the article into German and it was published in a prestigious journal in 1924. He was so overwhelmed by the content of this paper, Einstein himself read this paper in a meeting of the Berlin Academy of Sciences. As Einstein had added some notes to it, it became famous as Bose-Einstein Statistics. This work established Bose as a physicist at the international level.
Encouraged by this, Bose went deeper into the field of quantum theory and wrote a paper on 'Thermal Equilibrium in the Radiation Field in the Presence of Matter' and sent it to Einstein. But Einstein did not agree with the thesis of Bose. He added a note of his own and it was published. Unfortunately, this note of Einstein was not complimentary to Bose and he became unhappy.
In the meantime, he had identified a sub-atomic particle named after Bose. British scientist Higgs also had come to the same conclusion independently and it became famous as Higgs Boson. This was done almost half a century ago and its confirmation has come now from Geneva. Higgs is alive to witness this recognition but unfortunately Bose is no longer there to see his great discovery. Though he was famous he was just an Assistant Professor with an M.Sc. degree.
The post of the Professor was advertised but the minimum qualification prescribed was a doctorate degree. However, Bose applied for it with a certificate from Einstein. After a lot of debate, the Dacca University selected him for the post of full Professor. Later he returned to Calcutta University to become Khaira Professor and Dean. The poet Rabindranath Tagore invited him to become the Vice-Chancellor of the Vishwabharathi University. But he could not devote much time here for his research and hence he resigned.
The Government of India made him the National Professor and subsequently he became a member of the Rajya Sabha. He was honoured with Padma Vibhushana in 1958. Starting from Delhi University many Universities conferred on him Hon. Doctorate degrees.
Indian Science Congress honoured him with its Presidentship. Later, he became the Fellow of Royal Academy. He went to Europe on a study tour and worked with Madam Curie in Paris.
From his student days, Bose took great interest in Indian freedom struggle. He was a member of the Revolutionary group and used to take part in secret meetings. Some of his jealous friends tried to implicate him in preparation of bombs to kill the British officers. The British government immediately appointed a scholar of name Sylvan Levi to conduct an enquiry. At the instance of Rabindranath Tagore, Levi gave a clean chit to Bose.
Though a scholar of international standing, he encouraged others to write scientific books in Bengali language with the hope of cultivating scientific temper among the younger generation. He founded the Bengal Vijnana Parishat and wrote simple articles on science in Bengali.
At the ripe old age of 80, Bose passed away on Feb. 4, 1974. Now the Geneva scientists have given us an opportunity of remembering a great son of India for his contributions made half a century ago. It is the duty of a grateful nation to bow in reverence to this great Physicist, Satyendranath Bose.
By Prof. A.V. Narasimha Murthy