The Indian Bose in the universal boson

Read this article.

Do you think Indians are harping too much about the lack of mention of Satyendra Nath Bose’s name in the media coverage of the CERN announcement last week? The articles in Hindustan Times and Economic Times seemed to be taking things too far with anthropological analyses that have nothing to do with Bose’s work. The boson was named so around 1945 by the great Paul Dirac as a commemoration of Bose’s work with Einstein. Much has happened since; why would we want to celebrate the Bose in the boson again and again?

Dr. Satyendra Nath Bose

The stage now belongs to the ATLAS and the CMS collaborations, and to Higgs, Kibble, Englert, Brout, Guralnik, and Hagen, and to physics itself as a triumph of worldwide cooperation in the face of many problems. Smarting because an Indian’s mention was forgotten is jejune. Then again, this is mostly the layman and the media, because the physicists I met last week seemed to fully understand Bose’s contribution to the field itself instead of count the frequency of his name’s mention.

Priyamvada Natarajan, as she writes in the Hindustan Times, is wrong (and the Economic Times article’s heading is just irritating). That Bose is not a household name like Einstein’s is is not because of post-colonialism – the exceptions are abundant enough to warrant inclusion – but because we place too much faith in a name instead of remembering what the man behind the name did for physics.