Satyendra Nath Bose
New Delhi, July 4: India’s imprints on the new subatomic particle announced by scientists today date back to the early 20th century when eminent physicist Satyendra Nath Bose developed mathematics to describe the behaviour of a family of particles, now collectively called the bosons.
Dozens of scientists and their students from academic institutions in India have over the past 15 years helped develop instrumentation, write software and analyse experimental data at the proton-proton collider in Geneva looking for the elusive subatomic particle called the Higgs boson.
But the new particle’s link to India may be traced to Bose, said a physicist. “The mathematics of bosons which Bose developed in the 1920s is an integral part of the Higgs theory developed in the 1960s,” said Ashutosh Kotwal, a physicist at Duke University involved in the search for the Higgs boson.
All fundamental particles in the universe are classified into two families — bosons and fermions. “In the honour of Bose, all particles that share a specific type of statistical behaviour are named bosons,” said Kotwal. The new particle discovered today is a member of this family, he said.
Over the past two decades, faculty and PhD students from academic institutions in Bhubaneswar, Calcutta, Chandigarh, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Santiniketan have contributed to the Large Hadron Collider project at CERN, Geneva, the machine used to look for the Higgs boson.
The researchers have participated in building and running a particle detector called the Compact Muon Solenoid, or CMS, which is designed to spot a range of subatomic particles produced during the proton-proton collisions in the LHC.
The CMS has the shape of a cylindrical onion and multiple layers of detectors that track the particles that emerge from the collisions. Scientists study these particle tracks to reconstruct the events that took place in the heart of the collisions.
Physicist Suchandra Dutta at the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics (SINP) spent 12 years contributing to the development of special silicon detectors for an experimental instrument in the LHC designed to look for the tracks of subatomic particles produced in the proton-proton collisions.
Over the past two years, she’s been functioning as a data quality co-ordinator to ensure that only high-quality experimental data goes into the analysis. Another SINP physicist, Subir Sarkar, helped test and develop software for grid computing — the distribution of data analysis tasks across different institutions.
“So much data emerges from the collision debris that a single laboratory can't analyse it,” Sarkar said.
Satyaki Bhattacharya, also at the SINP, helped devise strategies for data analysis through simulations ahead of the proton-proton collision experiments.
Scientists from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, also contributed to the LHC effort in multiple ways — research, software and in the analysis of experimental data.
At Panjab University, Chandigarh, Manjit Kaur and her colleagues have worked on the LHC since 1999, helping fabricate instrumentation for the CMS detector, conducting simulations and data analysis. “This is an exciting day,” Kaur told The Telegraph. “It’s really great to be part of one of two experiments that led to today’s discovery.”
Researchers at Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, and the National Institute of Science Education and Research, Bhubaneswar, have contributed to the LHC project. The atomic energy department and the science and technology department are the primary agencies supporting India’s contributions to the project.