Abdus Salam

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Prof. Dr. Abdus Salam (January 29, 1926November 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. Salam, Sheldon Glashow and Steven Weinberg arrived at the theory independently and shared the prize. The validity of the theory was ascertained through experiments carried out at the Super Proton Synchrotron facility at CERN in Geneva, particularly through the discovery of the W and Z bosons.

Abdus Salam was phenomenally brilliant as a student. According to his Nobel Prize biography, When he cycled home from Lahore, at the age of 14, after gaining the highest marks ever recorded for the Matriculation Examination at the University of the Punjab, the whole town [Jhang] 1 turned out to welcome him. His first paper was written as a student there in [[1943] and concerned Srinivasa Aiyangar Ramanujan.[1]

During the early 1970s Salam played a role in starting Pakistan's Atomic Energy Commission. Founder and Director of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste, Italy from 1964 to December 1993, 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 fill the gap between the rich North and the poor South of the planet, thus contributing to a more peaceful world. Salam also founded the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) and was instrumental in the creation of a number of international centres dedicated to the advancement of science and technology.

Salam died in Oxford in 1996, after a long illness. He was buried in Pakistan where he was born.

Although he belonged to the Ahmadiyya Muslim sect (considered heretical by many Muslims) Salam is generally admired by Pakistanis as their country's first Nobel Laureate, some religious zealots notwithstanding.

Notes

  • Note 1: Jhang is the small town where Abdus Salam was born.

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