There is light at the end of the tunnel and the last piece of the puzzle almost in place. Particle physicists across the world were jubilant as scientists at CERN in Geneva made public the evidence of the presence of Higgs Boson, also known as the God Particle, on Wednesday. Having worked on the Electron-Positron Collider at CERN from 1988 to 1990 as a scientific associate in theoretical physics, Professor Bindu A Bambah of the University of Hyderabad shares the Eureka moment with City Express, calling the discovery, “vindication of scientific method and thinking.”
Significance of Boson
Leon Lederman was responsible for coining the grandiose God Particle moniker for the Higgs Boson as it answers the big question _ from where do sub-atomic particles, which make up matter, get their mass. “Though only 5 per cent of the universe is measurable mass and the rest is made of dark matter and dark energy, the discovery of Higgs Boson is an event which makes the Standard Model an ideal theory by filling the only gap.
At the end of the first run of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the presence of the particle which has a mass of 125.3 (plus or minus 0.6) Giga Electron Volts (GEV) goes to uphold the theory,” says Professor Bambah. She describes the quest for the God Particle as witnessing shards of glass and trying to reconstruct the original object from the evidence. “In the LHC, the electron photographs are pixellated and analysts try to put together pieces of this picture to reconstruct the boson,” explains the physicist.
Something for the layman
The theory states that a sub-atomic particle which enters the Higgs field will attract the Higgs Boson which accrue on it to give it mass.
What do we get out of this is a question often asked by those outside the scientific community. “When there is research of such a high level, the spin-offs benefit the public. The worldwide web was developed in a similar way to help scientists coordinate their research findings. Similarly, grid computing which forms an essential part of the analysis of data generated by LHC will work miracles when it is opened for the public. There will be such high level of computation and data storage that one need not look elsewhere,” says Professor Bambah.
The grid computer for coordinating the findings of Indian scientists working for the CERN is located in Kolkata.
The search for the ordinary sounding neutral electrical and color charge and spin-less particle has kept a team of 1200 strong scientists across the world on tenterhooks since 2010. “India has a strong presence in this group and close to 50 to 60 Indian scientists are a part of the search.
In 1988-1990, I worked on the electron positron collider, which was a low-energy version of the present LHC. That was when India was taking baby steps in the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN),” recalls Dr Bambah.