Is There A Hindu View of Bosons?

While Jaggi Vasudev and the RKM folks are known to not engage on behalf of Hinduism, in a sophisticated matter as Higgs-Boson, which Hindu exponent would one find who could do a thorough job of explaining what might be a hindu view of the physics involved? Since my college days I have failed to get anyone competent to explore (much less explain) the philosophical ramifications. I have a whole shelf full of works claiming to be vedic math, vedic physics, vedic consciousness, etc. But they lack rigor, or else they are too generic and what they say would apply equally well to most other metaphysics.

Here is a layman’s very rudimentary understanding of Bose’s original idea, then I will explain my philosophical speculations. Suppose you have a system consisting of two coins sitting on a table. Each coin can be in one of two states – H (heads) or T (tails). So the system of two coins can have four possible states, as shown below:
These are the four possible ways the 2 coins could lie on the table. Since each configuration is equally likely when the coins are tossed, the probability of finding two heads (HH) is 1/4 or 25%. This is the commonsense understanding of the world around us.

But Bose came up with the breakthrough idea that: states #2 and #3 above are not distinguishable from one another if the two coins are absolutely identical. HT and TH would be the same state. Therefore, there are only 3 possible states in total, not 4. Therefore, the probability of HH would be 1/3, not 1/4. All probabilities in quantum mechanics would have to be recalculated if this were the case.

In physics, the issue becomes: if two identical particles are switched, is that a new state or the same state, given that the two particles are indistinguishable from each other? A human observer cannot tell the difference between two identical items being interchanged; can the cosmos ‘know’ the difference?

The answer is that there are both kinds of elementary particles; and all particles can be classified into one or the other category. The first approach to statistics (according to which there are 4 states possible) is called Fermi-Dirac Statistics. The second approach is called Bose-Einstein Statistics. The particles that obey the former statistics are called fermions and those that obey the latter are called bosons. Unless the NDTV discussants know at least this much, the whole show and debate is among uninformed persons who should not be getting importance.
The philosophical speculation is: If the cosmos (and hence the laws of physics) does not ‘know’ when photon-1 and photon-2 are interchanged, are these two photons really two, or are they one photon with two simultaneous locations appearing like two particles? Can we then say that all the gazillions of photons in the cosmos ‘are’ one photon that is simultaneously present in many locations and seeming to go abut in many directions, etc? Are they all mirror images of one? Is that a viable philosophy of science?

The matter becomes even more complex and exciting when one considers that fermions do not follow this behavior; and each ‘individual’ electron (electrons are fermions) is a distinct ‘individual’. So when you switch two electrons, that becomes a different state of the cosmos. Since we are intuitively used to each entity having separate self existence, we tend to be more comfortable with fermions.

This issue of explaining bosons/fermions philosophically is one of a half dozen ‘open problems’ in my mind that I have carried around most of my life. When I find someone with greater understanding of Indian philosophy than I do, I look for opportunities to learn and expand my speculative possibilities. I have an intuitive sense that both Samkhya and Kashmir Shaivism probably have some profound insights on this deep reality (and even deeper than this level of physics), which some day will get decoded by research – unless it gets digested first in which case it will disappear like so much knowledge has.

Unfortunately, I failed to get serious interest from qualified Indian scholars to ponder the philosophical implications for various dharma systems. They lack the depth and attention span which such inquiries require. They cover this up with gimmicks like changing topics, slipping into wild chauvinism, wandering into abstract hubris, or suddenly announcing a samosa break. Of course, lots of quacks and over opinionated persons are always eager to waste time.

I also wonder: If Higgs-Boson is responsible for giving any particle its mass, could there be a state in which the yogi has separated himself from the “Higgs-Boson body” and hence become weightless – one of the siddhis mentioned in Patanjali’s Yogasutras? Could there be ultra high speed travel to distant galaxies by ‘withdrawing’ from one’s “Higgs-Boson body” and traveling with zero mass, and then at the other end merging a supply of Higgs-Bosons to become physical once again?

Rajiv Malhotra
Author of Being Different & Breaking India


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