Indian scientists bask in God Particle glory

The discovery of a new elementary sub-atomic particle, which almost matches the properties of the elusive Higgs Boson (also called ‘God Particle’) has a strong Indian connection.

The link goes beyond the fact that close to 100 Indian researchers were involved in collecting and analysing the data disclosed at European Organisation for Nuclear research, known as CERN, on Wednesday. “We analysed data till last week of June.
Almost a dozen researchers are still at CERN,” Sudeshna Banerjee, one of the physicists of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, who was involved with the project, told Deccan Herald.

Her colleague Satyaki Bhattacharaya at Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics (SINP) in Kolkata concurs. “We were fully involved in data analysis. My students are at CERN and some of our colleagues are attending the International Conference on High Energy Physics, 2012 (ICHEP) in Melbourne where they would present the Higgs data,” he said.

The discovery has an emotional link with India, with legendary Indian physicist S N (Satyendra Nath) Bose- after whom the particle gets the latter part of its name (Boson).

India's actual contribution to the large hadron collider project began in 1996 when the department of atomic energy signed a protocol with CERN to contribute for the hadron collider – the world's largest atom smasher that with the aim of finding the God Particle.

Over the years India provided some of the key equipment and systems needed in constructing LHC, including superconducting magnets, engineering components for electronics and control systems, precision magnet positioning system jacks for literally holding the atom smasher and other engineering and testing equipment.

More importantly, a team from Bhabha Atomic Research Centre participated in developing the “grid computing systems” used in analysing loads of data generated by the experiment. India's contribution in LHC was initially valued at 34 million Swiss Francs (US $ 25 million at 1994 rates), which was later raised to 60 million Swiss Francs under an agreement signed between DAE and CERN. Half of the money committed was “in kind” used in making the components while the rest is used to support Indian scientists during their stay at CERN.

In return, CERN management allowed India to become participating members in two LHC experiments named CMS and ALICE. The first one (CMS) was for searching the Higgs while the second one is on the look out for an esoteric primordial soup called quark-gluon plasma whose discovery will also have a lasting impact on the future of physics.

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