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    Is The Higgs A European Particle?
    By Hank Campbell | July 9th 2012 05:31 AM | 13 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0®.

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    How soon after the claim that the Higgs discovery is 'international' did self-loathing Americans and Europeans ridicule the American institutions that issued press releases noting their part in the work?

    About a day.  The smug intimation was because America did not want to fund the whole LHC completely - understandable given the fiasco of the Superconducting Supercollider - that we somehow 'lost out' on the discovery and made no contributions worth mentioning.

    The 97 American institutions and 1,700 Americans and the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Energy have every right to be a little pissed off that, when the LHC wants up to a billion dollars per year in support, the LHC is 'international', but when a discovery is made, it is a chance to sneer at America for not building the LHC.

    Not building the LHC in America is more of a compliment for Europe than America not caring about science; it is recognition that French government workers are a lot more likely to get something done only a few years and a few billion dollars over budget than American government workers are.  The SSC was already a few years and a few billion dollars over budget when it got canceled and all we had was a hole in the ground.  So, it was better for everyone, in science and among the public, that Europe did this. The people who insist America will lose 'leadership' if we do not build every new thing are, unsurprisingly, also funded by the American government and are simply engaged in neo-con nationalism of science, no different than when an employee at a weapons contractor says we should build military ships that cost $6 billion each.

    The condescension, from both European scientists and clueless young American ones, is not warranted.  Europeans can decry American nationalism in geopolitics but Europeans have gone out of their way to be nationalistic about this Higgs thing. 

    It isn't the Americans who have the most reason to feel slighted, though, American contributions, monetarily and with brains onsite at CERN, are well-documented.

    It's India that really got the shaft. Again.

    While European nationalists can semantically debate whether it was Peter Higgs or Englert and Brout who should be considered the father of the Higgs boson, not many people mentioned American Philip Warren Anderson and his work on the 'Higgs mechanism' two years before Higgs - and scant media attention was given to the history of that Higgs "boson" and where we would be without it. 

    The boson is named after Satyendra Nath Bose, an Indian mathematical physicist who came up with it in the 1920s.  While at the University of Dhaka, Bose wrote a paper which derived Planck's quantum radiation law without classical physics. He is basically the father of quantum statistics. 

    He submitted it to European science journals. Naturally, they turned it down.  That is, until a rebel named Albert Einstein read a copy, translated it into German and got it published in Zeitschrift für Physik. Einstein liked the work enough that he extended it to atoms and so the Bose-Einstein condensate was born. Bosons, which are particles with integer spin, were named after Bose.


    I mention Bose and Einstein but picture Bose.  Without a graphic of Einstein sticking out his tongue, will anyone read? 

    Yet though the term Bose-Einstein is a part of two Nobel prizes (including one granted to Science 2.0 fave Prof. Carl Wieman), Bose did not get any nods from that European body.  Why don't Indians get more respect?  Amit Chaudhuri writing in The Guardian is more blunt even as he is more humorous, "The last Indian scientific discovery that is fairly universally acknowledged is the zero." 

    He has a point. But India is learning some public relations.  Indians are now claiming the Neutrino Observatory (INO), which gets commissioned in 2017 and will seek to discover how neutrinos get mass, is the successor to the LHC. Well, good luck making that claim stick on the Continent. If they want a sure-fire way to get noticed by the west, just agree to spend $20 billion on the International Linear Collider (ILC), which is being spearheaded by a European. The full-court press for that machine went into effect while the public was still excited about the Higgs discovery. 

    And find someone less nationalistic in Europe, like Albert Einstein was, to advocate Indian work. My blog won't help. It doesn't get read much over there - because I am not European.

    Comments

    "While European nationalists can semantically debate whether it was Peter Higgs or Englert and Brout who should be considered the father of the Higgs boson, not many people mentioned American Philip Warren Anderson and his work on the 'Higgs mechanism' two years before Higgs - and scant media attention was given to the history of that Higgs "boson" and where we would be without it."

    And why don't you refer to Guralnik, Hagen and Kibble?

    Hank
    See? European nationalism again!  :)   I didn't mention them because they were far enough after Higgs and articles wander when I try to include too much.  
    Gerhard Adam
    Europeans can decry American nationalism in geopolitics but Europeans have gone out of their way to be nationalistic about this Higgs thing.
    Perhaps, but Europeans have always been fairly nationalistic.  Personally, regardless of how it's portrayed we, in the U.S., don't have any place to talk while we're listening to the news in "the greatest country in the world" munching our "freedom fries".

    Can't complain when our own hyped message echos back at us from other nations.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank
    Can't complain when our own hyped message echos back at us from other nations.
    You do realize that America has only been in the nationalism business for 200 years, and that we brought it from the countries doing it for 2,000? Insisting America somehow does nationalism better than the rest of the world is, well, your American nationalism showing through. :)
    Gerhard Adam
    Well, having spent the 4th of July in the UK, they all wished me a happy Independence Day, and I thanked them for not taking it personally.

    Mundus vult decipi
    Who or what is this "we" you talk about ? What were Americans before 200 years? Native Indians or something from outer space? You talk as if Americans are somehow a brand new race. And I don't think "the smug intimation" started if it ever did, until statements like how the Secretary for Energy complimented the "scientists from all over the world" for discovering the Higgs, but failed to mention The European Organization for Nuclear Research. American scientists whether foreign born (how many?) or not, applaud the findings, but Joe Six Pack and many others who still subscribe to Manifest Destiny, exhibit it in their response to anything not home grown

    Hank
    I remain skeptical that native Americans were nationalistic. Territorial, to be sure, but not nationalistic. So clearly America can only be nationalistic since America, the political entity, was created. 

    I am unsure what the rest of your comment means.  Is the "Secretary for Energy" Energy Secretary Stephen Chu?  And you think it was smug to not mention every group in Europe?  Did he mention every funding nation?  You are awfully contemptuous of 'Joe Sixpack', whoever that is, but I think the public is smarter than you think they are.  And Manifest Destiny is just goofy.


    I think the public is smarter than you think they are.

    Ask me how I know you've never had a job dealing with the public.

    Hate to disappoint you, but Guralnik and Hagen are Americans, not Europeans - or do you not notice any distinction?

    Hank
    Sorry, I did not know my response was peer-reviewed. I am impressed that you know theoretical physics so well you can list everyone and their country of origin from the entire field off the top of your head - but I doubt you can, so I am not sure what this sort of 'gotcha' comment is supposed to accomplish. My point was, they came after Higgs and the other two and years after the American I did mention and so were not vital to making the point that in all of the discussions about our new particle friend, only the West counts - and apparently Europeans count most of all.  
    I am surprised you mention this article Chaudhuri, I found it to be a completely ridiculous and childish article.

    The Guardian's comments section covered it fairly well, but to highlight some key points:
    It's pretty absurd to point out the lack of respect for Indian contributions to physics by referring to someone after whom a whole class of fundamental particles is named (cue the preposterous discussions about the non-capitalisation of boson).

    Bose is very well known / appreciated / respected within the physics world (e.g. see Bose-Einstein statistics). And also arguably within the larger world, I'm an engineer and an interested consumer of physics news but not a physicist and I knew plenty about him.

    There is little to be gained by nationalistic arguments about 'who did what to which particle', which is more inline with the sentiment of your article.

    It would be far better to refer to the lack of recognition of the five other contributors to the basic theory than to Bose who essentially had nothing to do with it (there ought to be a good analogy here - something about Fermi and fermions but I leave this to someone else).

    He then refers to how Koothrappali is short-changed on Big Bang Theory as an example of sleighting Indians. Seriously? BY this logic it is far more anti-semitic than anything as Howard is put down the most for lacking a PhD.

    What bothers me the most about this OpEd article in the Guardian is, if you are upset about the recognition of Indians in the science how about using this as a great opportunity to inspire readers with insightful stories about less well known figures who have made great contributions rather than present a pathetic Lit-Crit analysis of how racism has suppressed the recognition of one of the most recognised Indian scientists there is.

    I don't disagree that there could definitely be plenty of bias and suppression of lots of Indian work but this writer has jumped at capitlising on the attention being paid to the Higgs-boson and squandered the opportunity to improve our understanding. I urge knowledgeable readers here to take up the pen, write an article which highlights great Indian scientists in a positive way and submit it to the Guardian or sim.

    Again, what bothers me most is that this horrendous science writing / editorial function has been highlighted and not castigated.

    The CERN and European fix is in on the “Higgs”. While GHK clearly had the best solution there are also three (3) of them – and that ruins Nobel math. That math needs to be carefully managed and marginalized by dates and references.

    See t’Hooft, Close, Ellis, and others for clear evidence.

    Hey, just occurred to me – the three in the sentence prior are Europeans also.

    this is a very insightful essay, hank, thank u again for sharing the information to the audience about satyendra nath bose.