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A spiritual lesson learnt on a scientific quest

The ‘strong-interaction’ force does not weaken, no matter how hard you try to pull particles apart. There is a spiritual lesson in that, writes Amish.

columns Updated: May 31, 2014 18:51 IST

My wife Preeti, my 4-year-old son Neel and I had gone to Switzerland recently. We visited many places which held little interest for Preeti and me, but which Neel loved; like transport museums, bear parks and more toy-train rides than we'd care to remember. His joyful laughter at these places however, made them tolerable for us.

Now there was this one place which I desperately wanted to visit as well: CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research), Geneva. This was for various reasons. I am a lover of science and regularly read many scientific papers. Also, CERN has installed a beautiful idol of Lord Shiva in his Nataraj form, celebrating the cosmic dance of my God.

So a visit to CERN would have been like a pilgrimage for me. Furthermore, I have always been intrigued by the Standard Model. I have read on the subject and even had long discussions on it with a scientist relative of mine. I’m sure you are aware that what we learnt about ‘matter’ in school was incomplete. All constituents of matter are actually classified as constructs of Fermions (names after Italian physicist E Fermi) & Bosons (named after our very own SN Bose).

Also, there are four fundamental forces of interaction in the universe vis: electromagnetic, gravitation, weak-interaction and strong-interaction. The ‘strong-interaction’ force is most intriguing. Counter-intuitively, this force of attraction does not weaken as you pull particles apart. There is almost a spiritual lesson in this. A visit to CERN would have been great to explore this area further. What I didn’t realise was that my son could have taught me better. How?

Well, my son did not want to visit CERN. It's only natural. He is four years old after all and is more interested in dinosaurs and nature. He is yet to discover any passion for particle physics! So we’d made a plan that my wife would go to a park with him while I would go alone on my ‘science excursion’. However, on the morning of the visit, he decided to come along to CERN. I was genuinely surprised. So was my wife. Therefore, she asked him: 'Why do you want go to CERN?'

Neel’s answer was simple: ‘I want to go, because dad wants to go.’

The ‘strong-interaction’ force does not weaken, no matter how hard you try to pull particles apart. There is a spiritual lesson in that. My son Neel taught me. And it was such a moving lesson, that it brought tears to my eyes.

Amish is the bestselling author of the Shiva Trilogy. Twitter: @amisht

The views expressed by the author are personal.