Introduction

Dr. Abdus Salam NI, SPk, KBE was born on 29 January 1926, in Jhang into the Ahmadi Punjabi family. He was a Pakistani theoretical physicist. His father was an official in the Department of Education. After gaining the highest

Dr. Abdus Salam


Professional Achievements


Dr. Abdus Salam NI, SPk, KBE was born on 29 January 1926, in Jhang into the Ahmadi Punjabi family. He was a Pakistani theoretical physicist. His father was an official in the Department of Education. After gaining the highest marks ever recorded for the Matriculation Examination at the University of the Punjab, he won a scholarship to Government College, University of the Punjab, and took his MA in 1946.

In the same year, he was awarded a scholarship to St. John's College, Cambridge, where Dr. Salam took a BA (honours) with a double First 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 also obtained a PhD in theoretical physics at Cambridge. His thesis published in 1951, contained fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics which had already gained him an international reputation.

Dr. Salam returned to Pakistan in 1951 to teach mathematics at Government College, Lahore, and in 1952 became head of the Mathematics Department of the Punjab University. He had come back with the intention of founding a school of research, but it soon became clear that this was impossible. To pursue a career of research in theoretical physics he had no alternative at that time but to leave his own country and work abroad.

In 1954, Dr. Salam left his native country for a lectureship at Cambridge, and since then has visited Pakistan as adviser on science policy. His work for Pakistan has, however, been far-reaching and influential. He was a member of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, a member of the Scientific Commission of Pakistan and was Chief Scientific Adviser to the President from 1961 to 1974.

Many years later he succeeded in finding a way to solve the heart-breaking dilemma faced by many young and gifted theoretical physicists from developing countries. At the ICTP, Trieste, which he created, he instituted the famous ‘Associate-ships’ which allowed deserving young physicists to spend their vacations there in an invigorating atmosphere, in close touch with their peers in research and with the leaders in their own field, losing their sense of isolation and returning to their own country for nine months of the academic year refreshed and recharged.

Dr. Salam was a major figure in 20th century theoretical physics, he shared the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics with Sheldon Glashow and Steven Weinberg for his contribution to the electroweak unification theory. He was the first Pakistani and first Muslim to receive a Nobel Prize in science and the second from an Islamic country to receive any Nobel Prize (after Anwar Sadat of Egypt).

Dr. Abdus Salam was a top level science advisor to the Government of Pakistan from 1960 to 1974, a position from which he played a major and influential role in the development of the country's science infrastructure. He was responsible not only for contributing to major developments in theoretical and particle physics, but also for promoting the broadening and deepening of high calibre scientific research in his country. He was the founding director of the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), and responsible for the establishment of the Theoretical Physics Group (TPG) in the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC).

As Science Advisor, Dr. Salam played an integral role in Pakistan's development of the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and may have contributed as well to development of atomic bomb project of Pakistan in 1972, for this, he is viewed as the ‘scientific father’ of this programme.

In 1974, the Pakistan parliament made a constitutional amendment that declared Ahmadis as non-Muslims. In protest, Dr. Abdus Salam left Pakistan for London. After his departure, Dr. Abdus Salam did not completely terminate his connection to Pakistan, and kept his close association with the Theoretical Physics Group as well as academic scientists from Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC). At ICTP, Dr. Salam had launched series of post-research programmes for Pakistani academics with whom he had developed extremely close relations.

In 1983, Riazuddin and Asghar Qadir returned to ICTP where they had joined Dr. Salam, and stayed with him until 1990. Many prominent scientists, including Ghulam Murtaza, Riazuddin, Kamaluddin Ahmed, Faheem Hussain, Raziuddin Siddiqui, Munir Ahmad Khan, Ishfaq Ahmad, and I. H. Usmani, considered him as their mentor and a teacher.

In 1998, following the country's nuclear tests, the Government of Pakistan issued a commemorative stamp, as a part of ‘Scientists of Pakistan’, to honour the services of Dr. Abdus Salam.

His major and notable achievements include the Pati–Salam model, magnetic photon, vector meson, Grand Unified Theory, work on super-symmetry and, most importantly, electroweak theory, for which he was awarded the most prestigious award in physics, the Nobel Prize.

Dr. Salam made a major contribution in quantum field theory and in the advancement of Mathematics at Imperial College London. With his student, Riazuddin, Dr. Salam made important contributions to the modern theory on neutrinos, neutron stars and black holes, as well as the work on modernising the quantum mechanics and quantum field theory.

As a teacher and science promoter, Dr. Salam is remembered as a founder and scientific father of mathematical and theoretical physics in Pakistan during his term as the chief scientific advisor to the president. He heavily contributed to the rise of Pakistani physics to the physics community in the world. Even until shortly before his death, Dr. Salam continued to contribute to physics, and to advocate for the development of science in Third-World countries.

In 2015, the Academy of Young Researchers and Scholars, Lahore, renamed its library to ‘Abdus Salam Library’. Also, the following Institutes were named after Dr. Abdus Salam;

Abdus Salam National Centre for Mathematics (ASNCM), Government College University, Lahore, Pakistan; Abdus Salam Chair in Physics (ASCP), Government College University, Lahore, Pakistan; Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy; Abdus Salam School of Mathematical Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan; The Edward Bouchet Abdus Salam Institute (EBASI).

Dr. Salam was a very private individual, who kept his public and personal lives quite separate. He married twice (the first time to a cousin, the second time in accordance with Islamic law, and at his death, was survived by three daughters and a son by his first wife, and a son and daughter by his second, Professor Dame Louise Johnson, formerly Professor of Molecular biophysics in Oxford University.

Dr. Abdus Salam died peacefully on 21 November 1996 at the age of 70 in Oxford, England, from progressive supra-nuclear palsy (PSP). His body was finally returned to Pakistan and kept in Darul Ziafat, where some 13,000 men and women visited to pay their last respects. Approximately 30,000 people attended his funeral prayers.

Dr. Salam was buried in Bahishti Maqbara, a cemetery established by the Ahmadiyya Community at Rabwah, next to his parents' graves. The stone at the grave of Dr. Salam initially read ‘First Muslim Nobel Laureate’ but the government removed ‘Muslim’ and left only his name on the headstone. The word ‘Muslim’ was initially obscured on the orders of a local magistrate before moving to the national level. Under Ordinance XX, being an Ahmadi, he was considered a non-Muslim according to the definition provided in the II Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan.

His craving for nationalism is symbolized best by his wish to be buried in his own homeland. He loved his country and its soil. We projected him as a hero and role model for our young scientists.