Friday, July 6, 2012

India - ‘God Particle’ Discovery Met With Cheers From India’s TIFR

The discovery of the Higgs particle was met with excitement among scientists at India’s Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, who participated in the project through the CMS experiment.

Wednesday July 4, which incidentally coincides with America’s Independence Day, will always remain an important day in the world of science because of the much-awaited announcement about the discovery of the elusive Higgs Boson at Geneva, the headquarters of CERN.

The discovery is a historic moment in modern physics as it is expected to throw light onto one’s understanding about the universe. It marks a major milestone as it will explain why atoms in the galaxies, stars, and the earth have mass.

Peter Higgs, the 83-year-old British physicist who first proposed the existence of the Higgs Boson in the 60s was at CERN on Wednesday to receive the news.

On hearing the announcement, he became emotional and shed a few tears of joy and said that he and his family will uncork the champagne bottle!

An announcement from CERN said that two experiments designated as Atlas and CMS found hints of the new particle by analyzing trillions of proton-proton collisions from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in 2011-2012. The 10 billion dollar LHC is located in a tunnel below the Swiss-French border.
Quoting the Atlas spokesperson, Fabiola Giaotti, the announcement said: “We observe in our data clear signs of a new particle.”

CMS experiment spokesperson, Joe Incandela said: “The results are preliminary, but the five sigma signal at around 125 GeV we’re seeing is dramatic. This is indeed a new particle. We know it must be boson and it is the heaviest boson ever found,” he said.
The finding caused a lot of excitement among scientists at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai because the institute, the cradle of India’s space and nuclear program, participated in the project through the CMS experiment.

A few hours after the announcement, a former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), Rajgpopal Chidambaram, said: “It is the most exciting thing which has happened today, and in the days ahead more analysis and research will be done.”

He was happy about India’s participation in the project though the CMS detector in which TIFR has partnered.

Another former AEC chief Anil Kakodkar said that many people were looking forward to this discovery. “Yes, today is a big day for science,” he added.

M. R. Srinivasan, member of AEC and former chairman of the commission said that the discovery will help in providing a better understanding of the physical world and “explain some unexplained phenomena” in the universe such as Dark Energy.

He said: “Unquestionably, it is a great achievement and Prof Peter Higgs, the British physicist who proposed the existence of the Higgs Boson in the 60′s, is in line for getting the Nobel Prize.”
Asked if it was a small step since more analysis was required, N. K. Mondal of TIFR’s High Energy Physics department disagreed and called the discovery a “big step.” In a brief interaction with the media he said: “We feel great because TIFR has played a role in this project.”

Amol Dighe, a professor in TIFR’s department of theoretical physics, explained that the Higgs Particle was very different from other particles. “Today it is 99.99 percent sure that it had been discovered. Earlier it was 90 percent. I was all along optimistic that it will be discovered,” he said.

Dighe said that further experiments to find out how the particle interacts will be done. “The strength of the interaction should be proportionate to the mass,” he added.

India and CERN signed an agreement for collaboration in 1991 and the country was elevated to an observer status by CERN in 2002. Indian labs over the years have delivered sub-systems and provided expert help.

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