Posts Tagged ‘30-second Einstein’

As I mentioned in this blog here, a few months ago I contributed some articles to a book called 30-Second Einstein, which will be published by Ivy Press in the not too distant future. One of the articles I wrote for the book was on Indian mathematical physicist Satyendra Bose. It is after Bose that ‘bosons’ are named (as in ‘the Higgs boson’), and also terms like ‘Bose-Einstein statistics’ and ‘Bose-Einstein condensate’. So, who was Satyendra Bose, and why is his name attached to these things?


Satyendra Bose was an Indian mathematical physicist after whom the 'boson' and Bose-Einstein statistics are named

Satyendra Bose was an Indian mathematical physicist after whom the ‘boson’ and Bose-Einstein statistics are named

Satyendra Bose was born in Calcutta, India, in 1894. He studied applied mathematics at Presidency College, Calcutta, obtaining a BSc in 1913 and an MSc in 1915. On both occasions, he graduated top of his class. In 1919, he made the first English translation of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, and by 1921 he had moved to Dhaka (in present-day Bangladesh) to become Reader (one step below full professor) in in the department of Physics.

It was whilst in Dhaka, in 1924, that he came up with the theory of how to count indistinguishable particles, such as photons (light particles). He showed that such particles follow statistics which are different from particles which can be distinguished. All his attempts to get his paper published failed, so in an act of some desperation he sent it to Einstein. The great man recognised the importance of Bose’s work immediately, translated it into German and got it published in Zeitschrift für Physik, one of the premier  physics journals of the day.

Because of Einstein’s part in getting the theory published, we now know of this way of counting indistinguishable particles as Bose-Einstein statistics. We also name particles which obey this kind of statistics bosons; examples are the photon, the W and Z-particles (which mediate the weak nuclear force), and the most famous boson, the Higgs boson (responsible for mediating the property of mass via the Higgs field).

With the imminent partition of India when it was gaining independence from Britain, Bose returned to his native Calcutta where he spent the rest of his career. He died in 1974 at the age of 80.

You can read more about Satyendra Bose, Bose-Einstein statistics and Bose-Einstein condensates in 30-second Einstein, out soon from Ivy Press. 

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Although I will restate it on Thursday, I am not going to be able to post the last part of my series about the derivation of Planck’s radiation law this week as planned. It is taking me too much time, and so I will post it instead on Thursday the 17th. It is nearly finished; honest!

One of the reasons I don’t have as much time to write it as I would wish is that I am writing articles for a book called ’30-second Einstein’, which Ivy Press will be publishing next year (2016). The book is part of their series of ’30-second + subject’, and I have already contributed to their ’30-second physics’ volume, which is due out in March of 2016. For more information about the articles I wrote for ’30-second Physics’, follow this link.

Albert Einstein, before his hair went white and crazy :)

Albert Einstein, before his hair went white and crazy 🙂

As with ’30-second Physics’; ’30-second Einstein’ is being edited by Brian Clegg, and I am writing 16 of the 50-odd articles which will appear in the book. There are about five or six of us contributing to the book.

The articles I am writing are

  • Bose-Einstein statistics
  • Biography – Satyendra Bose
  • Photolectric quanta
  • Stimulated emission of radiation
  • Biography – Max Planck
  • Dreaming about light (floating alongside a sunbeam)
  • On the electrodynamics of moving bodies
  • Simultaneity
  • Length, time and mass
  • Spacetime
  • Biography – Hermann Minkowski
  • E=mc^{2}
  • Heavy clocks
  • Gravitational lenses
  • The cosmological constant
  • Expanding universes

The concept of the books is quite interesting; each topic needs to be explained in about 300 words, which believe me is quite a challenge. This is sufficiently few words that every one counts, and usually I find my initial draft(s) are 450 words or more, so then I have to edit them down making sure I don’t lose the explanation in the process.

Anyway, look out for this book in the next year or so, as soon as it is available I will post a link to it on this blog. In the meantime, check out the other books in the ’30-second’ series (there is a link to the series on this page), I haven’t contributed to any of them but many of them look interesting (and I have downloaded a few and enjoyed them greatly).

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