(Online Course) Contemporary Issues for IAS Mains 2012: The Hindu - Holy grail of Particle Physics

The Hindu

Holy grail of Particle Physics

Q. Write a short notes on Large Harden Collider.

  • This was achieved through the introduction of a hypothetical particle called Higgs — after Peter Higgs who proposed it — and an associated force.

  • With the advent in 2009 of the highest energy accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Geneva, which opened up a new energy domain, hopes of discovering Higgs have been high.

  • Two entirely independent experiments at CERN, ATLAS and CMS, have seen an excess of events that are attributable to Higgs.

  • By summer, these experiments had excluded vast regions of mass where Higgs could exist, leaving just a narrow window.

The latest results, announced on December 13, have squeezed the window further to around 125 times the mass of a proton. Since two independent experiments have arrived at the same conclusions, these are tantalising  signals — but not good enough to be called a discovery. At present there is just about one per cent chance of the excess being due to fluctuations in the background. The golden rule for discovery in particle physics is that such a c hance should be less than one in a million. A definitive statement on the existence or non-existence of Higgs requires more LHC data running through 2012. If Higgs does not show up even then, there will be an upheaval in the current understanding of the sub-atomic world, with the crucial question on the origin of mass remaining unanswered. But that, as we have seen before in the history of physics, is only likely to throw up even more revolutionary ideas.

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Education in India

  • Trade in Education under theWorld Trade Organisation is seen to give a natural advantage to India with its young English-speaking population.

  • Globalisation today involves a race for knowledge-generation. Whether it is software, nano-technology, manufacturing technologies, climate change, trade negotiations or financial institutions, the one who generates better ideas will dominate.

  • At the cutting edge, we have a shortage of manpower because we produce little of it, and most of it is lost through brain drain.

  • Premier institutions face a 30 per cent shortage of faculty.

  • There are reports of corruption in setting up private institutions.

  • Union Minister Jairam Ramesh suggested that the IITs, India’s most elite institutions, lack world-class faculty — and he was attacked. Not that he was wrong, but he hurt the sense of false national pride of many people.

  • The emergence of ‘Kota schools’ and coaching institutes that train students mechanically, is a natural corollary.

  • The NET examination was introduced to ensure minimum standards among teachers in higher education.

  • Today there is a flood of M.Phil. and Ph.D. and NET-qualified students without significant improvement in quality.

  • Now, the UGC, in an attempt to improve the quality of faculty, is enforcing a bureaucratised system of evaluation of faculty under the ‘UGC 2010 Regulations,’ based on a numerical system of indexing merit, called API. It would lead to ‘paper chase.’ How many papers or books written, conferences attended, projects completed, and so on.

  • An institution of higher education is not like a factory or an office where time and motion study can be used to measure productivity.

  • Army generals, civil servants and clever networkers are often appointed to top positions in educational institutions, not because of their academic quality but due to their closeness either to those in power or to the moneyed.

  • Union Cabinet has cleared the Citizens’ Right to Grievance Redress Bill.

  • The Congress party is reportedly willing to consider an arrangement under which the prosecution wing of the CBI comes under the Lokpal.

  • The 1971 human tragedy and subsequent triumph of Bengali nationalism has lessons for all three countries. Most notably for Pakistan, that its remote, centralised governance and negation of ‘local,’ multiple identities was not working.

  • The worst fallout of the 1971 debacle was the excessive militarism that emanated from the resultant deep insecurity of the Pakistani state. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s nationalist rhetoric remained anti-Indian, focused on the neighbour’s conspiracy to separate East Pakistan from us. By Zia-ul-Haq’s time, this rhetoric acquired a deeper dimension.

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