Thursday, 5 July 2012

Higgs Boson: Indian contribution to the elusive god particle search

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 4: The near discovery of the elusive God particle or Higgs Boson has the 
city physicists quite excited. After all, dozens of Indian scientists have been involved 
over the years searching for this mother of all particles in laboratories in Europe, 
India and the USA.

Like in many other major scientific findings, researchers from Hyderabad played a crucial 
role in this near discovery too by patiently searching a wide range of giga-electron 
volts (GeV) to find the Higgs Boson, named after British scientist Peter Higgs and Indian 
physicist Satyendra Nath Bose. Dr Bose, who taught at Dhaka and Calcutta universities, 
did pioneering research in mathematical physics and quantum mechanics. Although he did 
not win the Nobel, at least two scientists, who carried forward his work, won the Prize.

Even the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research 
(CERN) has a great contribution from Indians. The 8,000-tonne magnet at LHC was made in 
India. Indian teams also contributed to LHC hardware in the form of circuits and software 
in analyzing the computer-generated data.

Incidentally, Indians have been associated with CERN even before the LHC was started. 
Their association is more than half a century. Besides the Indian brains and machinery, 
the Indian divinity too continues to contribute to LHC results. The Department of Atomic 
Energy had a few years ago gifted a two-metre tall idol of Lord Nataraja, the cosmic 
dancer whose energy has inspired many a physicists the world over.

The University of Hyderabad not only contributed to the Higgs Boson search, but also went 
a step ahead looking beyond the elusive particle. The city-based Birla Science Centre, 
Osmania University, Andhra University from the State as also the Indian Institute of 
Science in Bengaluru, Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre in Kolkata, the Tata Institute of 
Fundamental Research in Mumbai too were involved in the race for discovering the Higgs 
Boson. In all about 100 Indian scientists worked in various CERN and other laboratories 
in the last three decades to unravel the mystery of the God particle.

“We will now be able to explain basic things about the Universe and how various
bodies in the world obtain mass. This discovery will now compel us to do more work. About 
95 per cent of the universe is still not understood. There are things like 'dark energy' 
which are not yet explained. But the five per cent that we now know about the universe is 
still good enough,” says an excited Dr Bindu A Bambah of the department of physics at 
University of Hyderabad. She worked as a scientific associate at The Centre for European 
Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva.

Another city scientist Dr Sridhara Rao Dasu, who works with the Wisconsin University, 
analysed the data generated from the God particle search experiments in the USA and 
Europe. He is part of the CERN team of scientists that have zeroed in on the range 
between 115 to 130 giga-electron volts to find the Higgs.

“It is indeed a great day in the history of Particle Physics. Although the properties of 
the new particle is not yet established so far, it could most probably be the long-sought 
after God particle. The hunt for God particle has been going on for almost half a 
century,” says Dr Rukmini Mohanta, expert in high energy physics.

Dr Rukmini, who works with the University of Hyderabad, is associated with the research 
on neutrinos. “One should not think that after the discovery of God particle the area of 
particle physics will be closed”. There are many more puzzles to be solved. One of the 
most important issues is that the neutrinos (the neutral leptons) do not get their masses 
in the same mechanism as the other elementary particles, she adds.

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