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.
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- How Zika Infects The Placenta
- Case For Moon: Humanity's Gateway To Solar System Exploration, Open Ended, Planetary Protection At Its Heart
- Music For The Eyes
- Schrödinger's Cat Is Not Just Alive And Dead, He's Both In 2 Places At Once
- Making Or Breaking Habits: The Endocannabinoids Can Do It
- Genomic Study Tracks African-American Dispersal In The Great Migration
- Scientists Discover How Supermassive Black Holes Keep Galaxies Turned Off
- " America, in fact the planet, needs a president who will make America green again. The bull****..."
- "Yes, agreed, nice way of putting it. Though a rather interesting garage that's full of treasures..."
- "Oh, okay, sorry about that. Likewise for yourself. ..."
- "Four paragraphs in I hit delete. I'm just going to wish you the best in all things...."
- "Oh rightio. I should add something about that as background for those who haven't come across the..."