Satyendra Nath Bose - Namesake of "Boson" Particles

For nearly 50 years, scientists around the world have been thinking about, and searching for, a sub-atomic particle called the "Higgs Boson."  Peter Higgs is still alive - but - for whom is "boson" named?

In 1924, a young man of 30 named Satyendra Nath Bose - an Indian from Calcutta (Kolkata) - was thinking about light and Planck's "black body radiation law."  Brilliant at solving extremely difficult math equations, Bose wrote to Albert Einstein.  He wanted to know what the famous scientist thought of his ideas.  Einstein was so impressed that he translated Bose's four-page paper into German and had it published in a leading scientific journal.

In the years that followed, other scientists used Einstein-Bose concepts in a new branch of physics known as "particle theory."  Moving well beyond the structural principles of solids, liquids and gases, particle theory (or quantum mechanics) attempts to determine the most-basic of particles which have no sub-structure. 

For example ... Do invisible particles - smaller than atoms - serve as the binding force for gravity and magnetism?  If so, such particles would likely be part of the basic building-blocks of the universe.

Scientists theorize about  the "smallest of the smallest" particles, then try to confirm their theories through experiments.  They ask questions like:  What are the basic building blocks of the universe?  What is the smallest sub-structure of matter (the "stuff" of which everything is made)?  What holds objects together?  What keeps objects apart? Why doesn't the whole universe just fall into itself?  Is it particles, or energy fields (like the so-called "Higgs Field") - or a combination of particles and energy fields - which makes the difference in giving objects their mass?

Scientists also examine questions like:  Are there some particles which make-up matter and other particles which either bind matter ... or ... separate it?  And ... how do "matter particles" interact

Scientist refer to "matter particles" - the "stuff" (for lack of a more-understandable word) particles which take up space and cannot be in more than one place at the same time - as "fermions."  They refer to "force particles" - the gravity and magnet particles - as "bosons."  The boson which scientist believe gives matter its mass is called the Higgs-Boson.

On July 4, 2012, CERN announced that its scientists have found a particle that could be the Higgs-Boson.  More work needs to be done to confirm whether it is.

This 1975 video biography - a Films Division Production from the Government of India - introduces us to Satyendra Nath Bose, for whom "Boson" particles are named.  The Indian government also provides an online biography of Bose.


Media Credits

Video biography of Satyendra Nath Bose, by the Government of India, online courtesy YouTube.


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