Abdus Salam (1926–1996)
|Born||January 29, 1926
Sahiwal, Punjab, British India
|Died||November 21, 1996 (aged 70)
Oxford, England, United Kingdom
|Institutions||Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC)
Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO)
Imperial College, London
University of Cambridge
International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP)
Edward Bouchet Abdus Salam Institute
|Alma mater||University of the Punjab
St John's College, Cambridge
|Doctoral advisor||Nicholas Kemmer
|Doctoral students||Michael Duff
|Other notable students||Masud Ahmad
Abdul Hameed Nayyar
|Known for||Electroweak theory
Pakistan's nuclear program
Pakistan's space program
|Notable awards||Nobel Prize in Physics (1979)
Mohammad Abdus Salam (Urdu: محمد عبد السلام) (January 29, 1926; Sahiwal, Punjab, British India (present-day Pakistan) – November 21, 1996; Oxford, England) was a Pakistani theoretical physicist, astrophysicist and Nobel laureate in Physics for his work in Electro-Weak Theory. Salam, Sheldon Glashow and Steven Weinberg shared the prize for this discovery. Salam holds the distinction of being the first Pakistani and Muslim Nobel Laureate. Even today, Salam is considered one of the most influential scientists and physicists in his country.
Salam's father was an officer in the Department of Education in a poor farming district. His family has a long tradition of piety and learning.
At age fourteen, Salam scored the highest marks ever recorded for the Matriculation Examination at the Punjab University. He won a scholarship to the Government College, Punjab University, in Lahore. As a fourth-year student there, he published his work on Srinivasa Ramanujan. He received his master's degree from the Government College in 1946. That same year, he was awarded a scholarship to St. John's College, Cambridge University, where he completed a BA degree with Double First-Class Honours in Mathematics and Physics in 1949. In 1950, he received the Smith's Prize from Cambridge University for the most outstanding pre-doctoral contribution to Physics.
He obtained a PhD degree in Theoretical Physics at Cambridge. His doctoral thesis contained fundamental work in Quantum Electrodynamics. By the time it was published in 1951, it had already gained him an international reputation and the Adams Prize.
During the early 1960s Salam played a very significant role in establishing the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) – the atomic research agency of Pakistan – and Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) – the space research agency of Pakistan, of which he was the founding director. Due to Prof. Salam's influence President Ayub Khan had the Nuclear Power Plant near Karachi (KANUPP) personally approved, against the wishes of his own Government. Salam was also instrumental in setting up five Superior Science colleges throughout Pakistan to further the progress in science in the country. Salam was a firm believer that "scientific thought is the common heritage of mankind," and that developing nations needed to help themselves and invest into their own scientists to boost development and reduce the gap between the Global South and the Global North, thus contributing to a more peaceful world. Salam also founded the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) and was a leading figure in the creation of a number of international centres dedicated to the advancement of science and technology.
In 1964, Salam founded International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste, in the North-East of Italy. He was the Director of ICTP from 1964 to December 1993. The Centre has since been renamed to (The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics). In 1959, he became one of the youngest to be named Fellow of the Royal Society at the age of 33.
Abdus Salam was a devout Muslim, and a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, who saw his religion as integral to his scientific work. He once wrote: "The Holy Quran enjoins us to reflect on the verities of Allah's created laws of nature; however, that our generation has been privileged to glimpse a part of His design is a bounty and a grace for which I render thanks with a humble heart."
During his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in Physics, Salam quoted the following verses from the Quran:
|“||Thou seest not, in the creation of the All-merciful any imperfection, Return thy gaze, seest thou any fissure. Then Return thy gaze, again and again. Thy gaze, Comes back to thee dazzled, aweary.||”|
He then said:
|“||This, in effect, is the faith of all physicists; the deeper we seek, the more is our wonder excited, the more is the dazzlement for our gaze.||”|
Salam died on 21st November 1996 at the age of 70 in Oxford, England after a long illness. His body was brought to Pakistan and kept in Darul Ziafat, where some 13,000 men and women visited to pay their last respects. Some 30,000 people attended his funeral prayers.
Salam was buried in the graveyard Bahishti Maqbara in Rabwah next to his parents' graves. The epitaph on his tomb initially read "First Muslim Nobel Laureate" but, because of Salam's adherence to the Ahmadiyya Muslim sect, the word "Muslim" was later erased on the orders of a local magistrate, leaving the non-sensical "First Nobel Laureate".
Salam was responsible for laying the groundwork for the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, initiating research on problems of waterlogging and salinity, and agricultural research. He played a crucial role in PAEC and SUPARCO, the National Space Agency of Pakistan. He helped Pakistan's scientists and engineers to be trained in nuclear applications and nuclear science.
Abdus Salam's work in Pakistan has been far reaching and influential. He has made extraordinary contributions to Pakistan's nuclear, space and missile programs. Therefore, in 1998, the Government of Pakistan issued a commemorative stamp to honour the services of Abdus Salam as part of its "Scientists of Pakistan" series.
Abdus Salam has been commemorated by Pakistan's noted and prominent scientists, who were also his students. Many scientists have recalled their college experiences. Ghulam Murtaza, a professor of plasma physics at the Government College University, Lahore has said:
" When Dr. Salam was to deliver a lecture, the hall would be packed and although the subject was Particle Physics, his manner and eloquence was such as if he was talking about literature. When he finished his lectures, listeners would often burst into spontaneous applause and give him a standing ovation. People from all parts of the world would come to Imperial College and seeks Dr. Salam's help. He would give a patient hearing to everyone including those who were talking nonsense. He treated everyone with respect and compassion and never belittled or offended anyone. Dr. Salam's strength was that he could "sift jewels from the sand" .
In August 1996, former chairman of PAEC and lifelong friend, Munir Ahmad Khan met with Salam in Oxford, United Kingdom along with dr. Ishfaq Ahmad. Dr. Ishfaq Ahmad, who is a former professor of nuclear physics at the Quaid-i-Azam University, recalls:
"My last meeting with Abdus Salam was only three months ago. His disease had taken its toll and he was unable to talk. Yet he understood what was said. I told him about the celebration held in Pakistan on his seventieth birthday. He kept staring at me. He had risen above praise. As I rose to leave he pressed my hand to express his feelings as if he wanted to thank everyone who had said kind words about him. Dr. Abdus Salam had deep love for Pakistan in spite of the fact that he was treated unfairly and indifferently by his own country. It became more and more difficult for him to come to Pakistan and this hurt him deeply. Now he has returned home finally, to rest in peace for ever in the soil that he loved so much. May be in the years to come we will rise above our prejudice and own him and give him, after his death, what we could not when he was alive. We Pakistanis may choose to ignore Dr. Salam, but the world at large will always remember him."
Salam returned to Pakistan in 1951 to teach Mathematics at the Government College, Lahore. In 1952, he became the Head of the Mathematics Department of the Punjab University. In 1954, Salam went for a lectureship at Cambridge, although he visited Pakistan from time to time as an adviser on science policy to the Government of Pakistan. His work for Pakistan was far-reaching and influential. He was a member of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and work their as a chief scientist with his students, a member of the Scientific Commission of Pakistan, Founder Chairman of Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission and Chief Scientific Adviser to the President of Pakistan from 1961 to 1974.
From 1957 onwards, he was Professor of Theoretical Physics at Imperial College, London. From 1964 onwards, has combined this position with that of Director of the International Centre For Theoretical Physics, a research institution in Trieste, Italy.
Salam had a prolific research career in theoretical elementary particle physics. He either pioneered or was associated with all the important developments in this field. He also served on a number of United Nations committees concerning science and technology in developing countries.. Many prominent scientists, which includes, Ghulam Murtaza, Riazuddin, Raziuddin Siddiqui, Munir Ahmad Khan, Ishfaq Ahmad, and I. H. Usmani, considered him as their chief mentor and a teacher. Abdus salam played a important and a crucial role in preparing and teaching of future pakistani engineers and scientists in the field of mathematics and physics.
It was Salam's advice to the President of Pakistan, Ayub Khan, that led to the establishment of the national space agency of Pakistan. In 16 September 1961, Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission was established by an executive order. Salam was appointed its first chairman. Salam also appointed Air Comm. Wladyslaw Turowicz, a noted Pakistani-Polish military scientist and an engineer, as Pakistan's rocket firing head.
Abdus Salam knew the importance of nuclear technology in Pakistan. Salam was a central figure in Pakistan's nuclear program. Abdus Salam was responsible for establishing the nuclear research institutes in Pakistan. In 1972, Government of Pakistan learned about the India's nuclear weapon program. The then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, formed a group of nuclear scientists and engineers, initially headed by Salam. He closely collaborated with his noted colleague and long-associated friend, Mr. Munir Ahmad Khan, in the field of nuclear technology in Pakistan.
In December 1972, two theoretical physicists working at the ICTP were asked by Salam to report to noted Pakistani nuclear scientist, Munir Ahmad Khan (late), then-PAEC chairman. This marked the beginning of the “Theoretical Physics Group" or TPG. The TPG, in PAEC, was assigned to develop the theoretical designs Pakistan's nuclear weapon devices. The TPG team under the leadership of Riazuddin, who is also Salam's distinguished student, completed the work on the theoretical design of the Nuclear weapon device by 1977.
Salam's primary focus was research on the physics of elementary particles. His particular contributions included:
Prof. Dr. Abdus Salam (January 29, 1926 – November 21, 1996) was a Pakistani theoretical physicist who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979 for his work in electroweak theory which is the mathematical and conceptual synthesis of the electromagnetic and weak interactions, the latest stage reached until now on the path towards a unification theory describing the fundamental forces of nature.
عزم سے کیا هوا دو دن کا کام لوگوں کے مهینوں کے کام سے بهتر هوتا هے۔-----ذاتی خط بنام برادر اصغر
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During the war years a scheme was set up for the farmers to study abroad. He as a result went to England for studies. In 1951 he returned to Pakistan, but he found that he was cut off from the rest of the scientific world there. He again went to England where he started having interest in the Grand Unified Theory.
He believed that if the Creator of the universe was one then the origin of all the forces had to be single also. He then set off to unify the Electromagnetic and the Weak Nuclear Force. According to another scientist, Peter Higgs, a field existed i.e. the Higgs field. it had many corrugurations. Abdus Salam concluded that the Z and W particles, the weak force carriers, travelled on these rough features therefore they gained mass. while the photons travelled along these uneven features and therefore were massless.