Watching the live webcast from CERN and the press conference thereafter, I could only sigh: Wish I were there today to witness history being made in particle physics. The rest of the day went in reading my colleague Geoff Brumfiel’s live blog from CERN and his witty analysis of the discovery of Higgs boson and, of course, the umpteen serious and funny takes on Twitter.
A little later I heard from Archana Sharma, the Indian staff physicist at CERN, who shared her excitement and the star-struck disbelief of a bunch of interns from India presently on a summer programme at CERN. The anticipation surrounding CERN’s scientific seminar on the “Latest update in the search for the Higgs boson” was so palpable at the Route de Meyrin that you could cut it with a kitchen knife, she said, prompting this beautiful piece for Nature India. Archana’s earlier pieces in the run up to today’s announcement have always made for wonderful reading and have celebrated the Indian presence at CERN.
In India, there also has been much speculation[1, 2, 3, 4] on why Satyendra Nath Bose, the Indian physicist who lends his name to Higgs boson following his celebrated work with Albert Einstein, has gone unsung through the ages. In fact, there is much criticism of the fact that only the ‘H’ in Higgs boson is written in capital letter. This debate is not going to die soon, at least in the land of Bose, whose Bose-Einstein statistics has become the basis of most quantum mechanics as we know it today.
Having been to the dream tunnel, I fondly remember the time when LHC, ATLAS, ALICE, CMS and Higgs were explained in great detail to a group of visiting international journalists. This was in late 2009 when the ‘God Particle’ had already been made famous by the Hollywood production ‘Angels and Demons’ and all of us took turns to wink at the retina recognition machine. The search for the elusive Higgs boson was at a fever pitch and we were told they were expecting a breakthrough in 2011. All of it sounded as exciting then as it did today. In December 2011, the internet went viral again with a couched announcement that the Higgs boson might have been found.
As all speculation was finally put to rest today, I went back to the ‘CERN’ picture folder on my computer to run a slideshow of my time there — celebrating Higgs boson at my workstation! Here’s a picture taken at CERN that amused me no end then and perfectly fits the spirit of the party-goers tonight. Enjoy!