Do you know who discovered oxygen? Even though you know oxygen is all around you and that you will die without it, you probably would have died without ever knowing who discovered it. That's because no one bothered to name the gas 'Scheelgen' after the Swedish pharmacist Scheele, who is widely credited with its discovery. (The credit is usually shared between the Swedish pharmacist Carl Wilhelm Scheele, and the British clergyman Joseph Priestly.)
However, with a week which passed by, in which the world media was inflated with Higg's Boson, you are more likely to know the Scottish professor who predicted the existence of the 'God particle' which was named after him and that Boson itself is named after Satyendranath Bose of India, who predicted, nearly a century back, the existence of a group of sub atomic particles called Bosons.
While much of the media focus itself was on the 'God particle,' very little has been mentioned about the work of Satyendranath Bose, which had far reaching implications on the advancement of particle physics which has lead up to the investigation to find the Higg's Boson. If Bose hadn't postulated on this group of sub atomic particles, we might have been, in all possibility still a long way from finding the God particle.
Was Satyendranath Bose Merely Lucky to Have the Bosons Named After Him?
Though India and the Indian government had recognized his greatness by awarding him various honours and positions while he was alive when the Nobel committee itself had failed to acknowledge it, Bose remained a forgotten name, unknown to the new generation Indians and to the world at large, until the discovery of the God particle, announced last week.
In fact, after his death in 1974, the Indians and most of the world outside scientific community weren't aware of his contribution or achievement. A couple of generations have never heard of him. This was mainly due to the very esoteric nature of his work and contributions to science, which not everyone can understand.
It took a genius like Albert Einstein to recognize the genius in Bose and eventually jointly produce scientific contributions like Bose-Einstein condensate in particle physics. Perhaps the most important of all work of Satyendranath Bose is his short paper with statistical postulations on Max Planck's quantum mechanics, which Einstein recognized as explaining a gaping hole in the theory and which predicted the existence of sub atomic particles called Bosons, later named after him, in recognition.
Respected Sir, I have ventured to send you the accompanying article for your perusal and opinion. You will see that I have tried to deduce the coefficient ... in Planck's law independent of classical electrodynamics.
What makes Satyendranath Bose the greatest scientist India has produced is his mathematical prowess, a record not broken in the University of Kolkota where he did most of his work, which he applied to postulate his theories about the nature of a set of sub atomic particles, no one had ever seen, until after several years. His greatness, like that of Einstein and many other eminent scientists of the past, lies in the fact that most of his work was done in his own god given faculties, in a world which had no computers, software or internet, and in a country far away from Europe, where the mainstream scientific advancement was taking place.
Part of the reasons, other than the implicit difficulty to explain his work to the people, why Bose was not universally recognized or given a Nobel Prize might have been his nationality, like in the case of Mahatma Gandhi, who was never awarded the prestigious price.
Not that Satyendranath Bose and his work would have gone in to oblivion even if the Bosons weren't named after him or no one really would have searched and found the God particle. His work was undoubtedly a corner stone of modern physics and one way or the other, if not now sometime in the future would have revealed and shown itself as future scientists would have strived for answers to the secrets of the universe.
Now that God particle has reinvented his greatness for the world, it has become all the more important that a modern and emerging India do everything to unearth the greatness and increase the awareness of its immortal scientist to instil ambition and purpose in its youth and future generations. That only can atone a grate scientist who had the misfortune of being born an the wrong place at the wrong time.
A thousand years from now, like oxygen, Bosons will still be around reminding everyone about Satyendranath Bose and his contribution to science, while Professor Higgs, credited with the prediction of Higg's Boson itself, the God particle everyone went gaga about, might be forgotten as it will be broken down, dissected and analyzed, extending the frontiers of human knowledge.
But that is not why Bose will be remembered. His name will stand out because, if greatness is to be judged by the contribution to the advancement of scientific knowledge, Satyendranath Bose is undoubtedly, the greatest scientists India has produced in recent times.