Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What is god particle?

What is God Particle?Why has it caught our fleeting fancy? Is it more important than proton,photon,electron? Utpal Chattopadhyay explained it in a series of tweets, I am just reproducing these here. Edited after first publish.

One of the not so well understood problem or puzzle in Physics is why the electron or the proton or the photon are as heavy or as light as they are? What are the laws that give rise to these masses? For example, we know that  the (rest) mass of the photon, the particle of light, is ZERO. We may ask why it is zero. Is there a deeper reason? It turns out that the answer is yes,  the zero mass of a photon is directly related to a deep symmetry of the electric and magnetic fields.

Weinberg , Salam and Glashow tried to unify electromagnetism with weak nuclear forces. Weak nuclear force is what causes radioactive elements to decay. One problem they encountered is that  in order to unify through a symmetry principle, most particles needed to be zero mass just like the photon where as we know that the other particles have non zero mass.  This problem was solved by giving one of the fields a "Vacuum Expectation Value". What do we mean by  vacuum expectation value of a field? It means the following: Take elctromagnetic fields for example. In vacuum far away from everything, you would expect the strength of  these fields to be zero. That would be almost right. Almost because thanks to quantum mechanics, electric and magnetic fields will always fluctuate. so their strength is never exactly zero but zero plus minus small amounts. In other words, the AVERAGE value of electric and magnetic field in vacuum is zero, Stated differently, its vacuum expectation value is zero.

What physicists realized in 1960s is that the vacuum expectation value can be NON zero, More importanly, a non zero vacuum expectation value will "spontaneously break" the symmetry of Weinberg, Salam and Glashow,  BUT as a bonus it will generate mass for these too.
Bingo. In one stroke we can begin to understand what part of the physics might be responsible for mass of these particles. Hence the search for this particle. This particle used to be known as "Higgs-Kiggle-Englert-Brout" boson after all the physicists who developed the idea independently but people got tired of the long name. Hence the name Higgs boson survived.. It is called a boson because it follows the statistics of S N Bose (1894-1974) !

The Higgs boson is  no more fundamental than the electron, or the photon. BUT the beauty is that  it allows a unified view of why some particles are massive. This was the last piece of the puzzle of Weinberg-Salam-Glashow theory. BUT it generates another question.. Why does Higgs boson field have non zero vacuum expectation value? NO ONE knows for sure as yet.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

How gullible are we as a nation

I have been wondering of late, how gullible are we as a nation? Anybody can tell us anything and we start running behind them. Only thing we don't trust is ourselves. Here are two instances that incidentally happened this week.
STEN LINDSTROM comes out this year on the 25th anniversary of bofors scandal and says that he was the whistleblower and he saw his leaks being used selectively (in content and timing) by The Hindu at that time and did not do much about it. Now 25 years laters he is talking again.
Then coincidently the same week S&P downgrades India's credit risk to negative and Moody's goes ahead and writes a almost political report on India.
The report termed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as an "ageing technocrat who now appears tired of the rough and tumble of Indian politics" and added that the UPA didn't have the numbers or the leaders to push through tough-minded reforms needed to drive the next wave of growth.
Now what moody's and S & P are saying is nothing new, everybody agrees that business and investment climate in India has taken a beating but we (the mainstream media) wakes up only when foreigners tell us to do that.

I expect our media to do much more homework rather than just listening to STEN LINDSTROM, Moody's or S & P whose credibility it not really great anyway.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Here are some more strange happenings today.
According to a source in LNJP Hospital, the doctors immediately began to provide CPCR, which involves pressing down hard and rapidly on the chest and blowing air into the patient's mouth. The doctors also removed the girl's clothes to administer an injection, but were unable to save the girl. At this, some of the people accompanying her began shouting that the doctors had misbehaved with the girl and killed her.
Why, in such stupid cases, does police look for amicable settlement. They should just book these mobs.
The accused party was accompanied by the police and brought to us. We had a talk wherein they profusely apologized for their misbehavior following which the doctors decided to call of the strike. The issue is being solved amicably," said a senior administrative officer at LNJP Hospital. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Travelog: Sanchi and Udaygiri

Finally after staying for couple of decades in Bhopal, I decided that it is high time I need to pay a visit to Sanchi. It is approximately 50 to 70 kms from Bhopal depending on the route that one takes. One can go to Raisen and then go to Sanchi. This route is longer. The other option is to go to Vidsha and Sanchi is around 10 kilometers before Vidisha.
The place is very nice, the ticket price  is cheap, only Rs. 10 per adult and children up to 15 years are free. There is a very good audio tour available and provides good information about the monument.

Sanchi is part of Vidisha tourism circuit which is littered with ancient archaeological discoveries around that place. One can check Madhya Pradesh Tourism. There are many places which have archaeological finding ranging from BC to few hundred AD time frame.
Coming back to Sanchi, it is a buddhist monument and decently preserved. Most of the construction was carried during Gupta dynasty.
Food & Stay
There is only one decent hotel in the city, called Gateway Retreat and us run by Madhya Pradesh Tourism. MP Tourism is the government of MP undertaking responsible for development of tourism in the state. Since it is directly run by the government, hospitality is not one of their strong point. I would suggest any visitor to not have hopes for great service here. They should stay in Bhopal and drive down to Sandhi. The drive should not take more than one and half hour.
Road Condition
Road to Sanchi is in pretty good condition, the road towards vidisha is much better compared to one via Raisen.
Udaygiri Caves
Udaygiri caves are around 10 kilometers from Sanchi and have a set of caves that were constructed around 5-6 BC. The caves have sculptures cut from monolithic rocks. There is no entry fee here.
Important Facts

  • Around 50-70 kilometers from Bhopal, roads are good and easily reachable from Bhopal. Should take around one and half hours. The Sanchi monument opens at Sunrise.
  • Best to start from Bhopal after early breakfast, visit the monument in Sanchi, either carry packaged lunch, or have lunch at Gateway Retreat in Sanchi, and be back in Bhopal at night.
  • No fee for camera in Sanchi, tripods are prohibited
  • Great audio tour available at entry of Sanchi monument, they also rent out umbrellas at a rent of Rs. 20 per umbrella.

Monday, January 23, 2012

India's telecom revolution -- a missed opportunity

A lot is said about India's telecom revolution and it is a positive story but now making this claim almost sounds like repeating yourself again and again. I have not heard of a positive outcome of this revolution in last 4 years. Why is it so? I believe if we look at this closely, we will realise that it is a story of lost opportunities.
Anybody with even a little knowledge of telecom would appreciate that telecom is nothing but a communication medium. It was revolutionary initially because it provided a voice communication medium to masses that government run operator coud not provide in 50 years but once we reached a significant population with this medium, nothing was done to leverage it further.
None of the e-governance initiatives exist on mobile phones as applications or mobile web. Even the applications for which data readily exists in digital form have not been translated to run n mobile phones. Look at, it has mandi rates from most of the mandis from all over India on a daily basis. If a farmer can look at the rates in mandis around his place, he can make decisions on when and where he wants to sell his produce. Similarly weather information can be made available in more granular and location targeted fashion to farmer. For urban poor, making whole e-governance infrastructure in a mobile friendly fashion would result in real revolution.