The Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics (SINP) is going to take up the case of sub-atomic particle boson, derived from an Indian scientist's name, being rendered in lower case with European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) chief Rolf-Dieter Heuer.

Heuer, the Director-General of the Geneva-based institute, will be on a two-day visit to Kolkata from September 3 to address an international science conference organised by the Centre for Natural Sciences and Philosophy and the Critical Issues Forum. On September 4, he will also deliver a lecture at the SINP.

The discovery of a new subatomic particle, possibly the Higgs boson, considered “a key to the cosmic riddle”, in July triggered celebrations among scientists across the world. However, the Indian scientific community expressed its displeasure at “boson” being spelt in lower case while “Higgs” (after British physicist Peter Higgs) is spelt in the upper case.

The 'God' particle

Graphic representation of the Higgs boson particle

The word “boson” is derived from the surname of Satyendra Nath Bose, who did path-breaking work on quantum mechanics in the early 1920s using mathematics to describe the behavioural pattern of bosons – one of the two families of fundamental particles that the universe is classified into.

SINP chief Milan Sanyal received a lot of telephone calls and emails following the discovery and promised to write to CERN. “However, since Heuer would be on a visit to Kolkata, I thought it would be better to talk to him rather than sending a missive. He will also visit our institute. I shall take up the matter with him then,” Sanyal said.

SINP scientists had collaborated with CERN in the Higgs boson research. Members of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) research team at the SINP helped the CERN experiment with data analysis and by developing hardware for the experiment tunnel. Five faculty members from the institute were part of the core CMS team, besides ten Ph.D students being part of the project.

Associated Press

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