Page 28 - ScienceIndia Magazine March 2021
P. 28

        question has been the driving force of scientific development in the history of human kind. We all know that mol- ecules are made up of atoms which are made up of electrons and nuclei. The nuclei are further made up of neutrons and protons, which in turn are made up of up/down quarks. All the objects listed above have sizes in nanometers or even smaller (for molecules and atoms) or femtometers or smaller (neutron/pro- ton/quarks/leptons). Hence, this exercise has been more like trying to figure out shapes and sizes of different Lego pieces from studying the Lego women/men or various other objects made from those pieces.
The scientific community has finally accepted that the fundamental building blocks of everything in the universe are quarks and leptons. They interact with each other through four fundamental forces and the carrier of those funda- mental forces are fundamental particles. The process of achieving a theoretical/ mathematical description of these forces leads to the postulate of the Higgs bo- son. This whole structure is now called Standard Model (SM) of Particle Phys- ics. In addition to the up/down quarks and electrons, which make up the atoms in the end, there also exist brothers and sisters of these (living, indeed, for very short time intervals only in the high en- ergy environment of particle colliders or the early universe) which together con- stitute the full list of quarks and leptons mentioned above. The discovery of the Higgs boson at the LHC (Large Had- ron Collider) proved the correctness of the SM. I am one of the thousands who have participated in this journey and contributed like the proverbial squirrel to the ‘Ramsetu’.
I started working as a graduate student when the SM was developing as the correct theory of particles and their interactions. Hence, a lot of my own work was about aspects of testing different features of the SM in experi- ments, being conducted internationally at mammoth particle colliders, such as the LHC at CERN in Geneva. These huge and complex experiments per- formed by large collaborations, require
Dr Rohini Godbo“le receiving Padma Shri from President Dr Ram Nath Kovind, in 2019
to make them noticeable. I also suggest-
ed ways and means of exploring corners In the subject like particle of the accepted theories which had not
physics, lack of good been explored then at the colliders. communication with the
western world was a definite How did you choose to become a particle
drawback. But I had the best access that was possible in India then, at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR). This period is the mos”t important in a scientist’s life...
very close interaction among experi- mentalists and theorists. Hence, even if I am myself not an experimentalist, I have worked in close collaboration with them, suggesting different strategies for looking among the large number of par- ticles produced in each collision, for the tell-tale signal of production and disinte- gration of some of these heavy particles living sometimes for a small fraction of attosecond. This job is equivalent to finding a needle in a haystack and one has to think of strategies to paint these needles with luminous, vibrant colours
physicist and what challenges did you face?
I was a good student and obtained first rank in my BSc in Pune University and in MSc at the Indian Institute of Tech- nology. Summer schools and interaction with fellow students actually widened my horizons and the two years at IIT (Powai), widened them even further. The training and teaching of one of my professors at IIT were responsible for my falling in love with the subject of theoretical physics. Nuclear and particle physics were the frontline areas of devel- opment in physics at that time and hence most challenging. With the arrogance of the youth, it was the most attractive intellectually. That is how I came to be a particle physicist.
When one chose to do a PhD in a competitive subject like particle physics there were bound to be challenges as is usual in the life of a PhD student. In the subject like particle physics which is global, lack of good communication with the western world was a definite
         Image Courtesy: Dr Rohini Godbole

   26   27   28   29   30