Mohammad Abdus Salam

By Syed Aslam

salamMohammad Abdus Salam, was born in  1926 in the state of Punjab, India. Salam family had a passion for education and learning. At the age of fourteen  he scored the highest marks ever recorded in high school examination in Punjab university. After completing  his MA in mathematics from Punjab University   he went to England and  received his PhD degree in  Theoretical Physics in the year 1951 from University of Cambridge .His doctoral thesis contained comprehensive and fundamental work in Quantum Electrodynamics. By the time it was published , it had already gained him an international reputation. In 1957 he was invited to take a chair at Imperial College, London, as Professor of Theoretical Physics. It is remarkable that the simple peasant boy, who went on to become the youngest professor in the history of Imperial College, at the  age of thirty .While at Imperial College, he had the privilege of interacting with great minds, such as Bertrand Russell, Einstein, Oppenheimer, and Wolfgang Pauli to name a few. Dr. Salam and Paul Matthews created a lively theoretical physics group here at Imperial College.  During the early 1960 he moved back to Pakistan, where played a very significant role in establishing the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and  Pakistan  Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission. In 1974 he left Pakistan and moved to Oxford, England where he died on 21st November 1996 at the age of 70  after a prolonged illness. His body was brought to Pakistan and buried in Rabwah, Punjab.

Mohammad Abdus Salam was  the first Pakistani  to win the Nobel laureate in Physics for his work in Electro-Weak Theory.  He did the  research  on the physics of elementary particles.  In 1968 he introduced a theory of weak neutral currents, to explain the behavior and properties of elementary particles. He proposed that the electromagnetic force and the weak force are not distinct and separate, but two manifestations of the same fundamental force, which he called the “electroweak” force. By the mid-1970s other scientists’ work had confirmed his theory, and in 1979 he won the Nobel Prize in Physics for the proposed theory.

Salam made a major contribution in Quantum Field Theory and advancement of Mathematics at the Imperial College. With his student, Riazuddin, Salam made important contributions to the modern theory on neutrinos, neutron stars and black holes, as well as the work on modernizing the quantum mechanics and quantum field theory. As a teacher and science promoter, Salam is remembered as a founder and scientific father of mathematical and theoretical physics in Pakistan.  Even until his death, he continued to contribute in physics and tirelessly advocated for the development of science in third world countries.

Dr Salam is one of the most honored physicists. He was  awarded the Hopkins and Adam prizes in 1958. He was the first recipient of the Maxwell Medal. In 1971, he was awarded the Oppenheimer Medal and prize. In 1976 the London Institute of Physics awarded him the Gutherie Medal and prize. In 1979, UNESCO bestowed on him the Einstein Medal. In 1983 he was awarded the Lomonsove Gold Medal by the USSR Academy of Sciences.


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