The name Muhammad Abdus Salam speaks for itself as his work has been serving the life of physics till today. His theory of particle physics, states that the particle is responsible for the particle mass that exists. It has been the cornerstone for the discovery of the Higgs Boson in 2012. Furthermore, He was not just the first theoretical physicist from Pakistan but also from the entire Islamic world to receive a Noble Prize in science. He shared a Nobel Prize in 1979 with Sheldon Glashow and Steven Weinberg. The Nobel Prize was jointly awarded to the three, for their contribution in the form of an electroweak unification theory.
If we speak of his contributions to the nation, Abdus Salam contributed to Pakistan in ways that no one else could have. He without a doubt played a very influential and crucial part in the development and evolution of Pakistan’s scientific infrastructure. He worked as a scientific advisor for the Ministry of Science and Technology in Pakistan. Moreover, he also contributed to the particle physics of the nation.
One of his most significant contributions was that he was the founding director of the SUPARCO (Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission). Furthermore, he was also responsible for the inception of TPG (Theoretical physics group). As a result, this made him known as the ‘Scientific Father’ of the program.
Early Life of Abdus Salam
Abdus Salam was born to a Punjabi Muslim family on January 29th, 1926 in Jhang. Gul Muhammad the grandfather of Abdus Salam was known for his religious knowledge. Moreover, Abdus Salam’s father Muhammad Hussain worked in the Department of education in Punjab as an education officer.
Salam was known for intelligence and intellect throughout Punjab. He not only achieved the highest marks ever recorded in his matriculation examination from Punjab University. In addition, Salam also won a full scholarship at the Government College University of Lahore. He was an all-rounder scholar who was not just interested in both Urdu and English literature but also excelled in both.
His focus was highly riveted to Mathematics. During his fourth year, he published his solutions to Srinivasa Ramanujan’s problems in Mathematics. After which, in 1944 he took his B.A. exams in Mathematics followed by MA in Mathematics from Government College University in the year 1949.
Higher Studies at The University of Cambridge
Later in his life, he joined the University of Cambridge. He was entrenched with a reputation on the basis of his outstanding academic achievements and brilliance. His exceptional pre-doctoral contributions to Physics got him a Smith’s Prize in 1950 from Cambridge University. Fred Hoyle advised him to spend another year at the Cavendish Laboratory, as soon as he finished his degree. The suggestion was to continue in-depth research in experimental physics.
Yet Salam had other plans and did not think that he had the patience for carrying out prolonged experiments at the laboratory. Therefore, he returned to Jhang, renewed his scholarship then returned to the United Kingdom for the completion of his doctorate. His Ph.D. degree was in theoretical physics. Furthermore, he completed his Ph.D. degree from the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge.
He titled his doctorate thesis ‘Development in the quantum theory of fields and it was based on the fundamental work that comprehensively was based on quantum electrodynamics. Salam also found solutions to the renormalization of meson theory within 6 months, as challenged by his mentors. When proposed the solutions, he allured Hans Bethe, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Dirac.
Career of Abdus Salam
If we are to speak of the cognition of Abdus Salam, his academic work portrays what a great human he was. Abdus Salam returned to Lahore in 1951 after the completion of his doctorate. Thereafter, he joined the Government College University as a Mathematics Professor and kept providing his services for the cause till 1954.
After a short time, he was appointed as the Chair of Department and professor at the University of Punjab, he not only updated the curriculum of the university. He also introduced Quantum Mechanics as a course for undergraduate programs. He also used to supervise the education of the students who were highly inspired by him and asked for his supervision. Salam then took a fellowship in 1954 and become a prompt fellow of the Pakistan Academy of Sciences. He ultimately went back to Cambridge in 1953 as a result of the Lahore riots. There he joined St John’s College. In 1957 he took the chair at Imperial College in London where he along with Paul Matthews brought up the Theoretical Physics Department at the Imperial College. As a consequence of that, it become the most reputable and distinguished department.
Honorary Doctorate by Punjab University
Salam was then conferred with an Honorary Doctorate by the Punjab University in 1957. His contributions, to particle physics. In the same year, he launched a scholarship program with the help of his mentor that helped the students within Pakistan. Despite his excellence, he did not break ties with his country, instead kept strong links and visited Pakistan every now and then. salam also formed a group of theoretical physicists at Cambridge and the Imperial College, the majority of whom were all from Pakistan. In 1959, Abdus Salam became the youngest person to be ever nominated as a Fellow of the Royal Society. He then took a fellowship at Princeton University in 1959 and met J. Robert Oppenheimer, presenting his research work on neutrinos.
Abdus Salam’s Scientific Career
He made a very significant contribution to electrodynamics and quantum field theory, early in his career. Not to mention, it included the extension into nuclear and particle physics. Even though Salam played a very important role in the development of nuclear physics. He still focused his attention and dedication on mathematics and theoretical physics and wanted Pakistan to excel in the fields of theoretical physics and its research work. He led the driving force in theoretical physics and encouraged a bunch of scientists to keep working for the cause.
Awards & Achievements
He made a very significant contribution to electrodynamics and quantum field theory, early in his career. It included the extension into nuclear and particle physics. Even though Salam played a very important role in the development of nuclear physics. He still focused his attention and dedication on mathematics and theoretical physics and wanted Pakistan to excel in the fields of theoretical physics and its research work. He led the driving force in theoretical physics and encouraged a bunch of scientists to keep working for the cause.
Awards by Pakistan
Pakistan awarded their national hero with awards for his contributions in the field of science.
- Pride of Performance by the President of Pakistan in 1958
- Sitara-e-Pakistan for contribution to science in Pakistan in 1959
- Nishan-e-Imtiaz for outstanding performance in Scientific projects in 1979
Awards by India
India awarded Abdus Salam with various awards as well in terms of his contributions to the field of physics.
- Sir Devaprasad Sarvadhikary Gold Medal in 1977
- Shri R.D. Birla Award (India Physics Association) in 1979
In addition ot the awards given to Abdus Salam from Pakistan, he was awarded countless honors and awards across the globe. Illustrating his exceptional approach towards the world of physics and his contribution herein.
- Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979
- Adams Prize by Cambridge University in 1958
- Fellow of the Royal Society in 1959
- Smith’s Prize by Cambridge University in 1950
- The first recipient of Maxwell Medal and Award in 1961
- Hughes Medal by Royal Society, London in 1964
- Atoms for Peace Award Atoms for Peace Foundation in 1968
- J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize and Medal in 1971
- Guthrie Medal and Prize in 1976
- Matteuci Medal Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei in 1978
- John Torrence Tate Medal American Institute of Physics in 1978
- Royal Medal by Royal Society, London in 1978
- Einstein Medal (UNESCO, Paris) in 1979
- Hopkins Prize (Cambridge University) for “the most outstanding contribution to Physics during 1957–1958”
- Order of Andres Bello in 1980
- Order of Istiqlal by Jordan in 1980
- Cavaliere de Gran Croce dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana in 1980
- Josef Stefan Medal in 1980
- Gold Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Physics Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in 1981
- Peace Medal by Charles University, Prague in 1981
- Lomonosov Gold Medal in 1983
- Premio Umberto Biancamano in 1986
- Dayemi International Peace Award in 1986
- First Edinburgh Medal and Prize in 1988
- “Genoa” International Development of Peoples Prize in 1988
- Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1989
- Catalunya International Prize in 1990
- Copley Medal in 1990
The Abdus Salam Award
The Abdus Salam Award, often known as the Salam Prize, is given annually to Pakistani nationals. The award is given to people who have made outstanding contributions to the fields of science. Together with, their age to be below 35 years. Generally, the award must include a certificate of commendation and a cash prize.
Contributions In Science
After returning to Pakistan in 1960, Salam took charge of the government post. Ayub Khan was the one to assign him that post. Salam replaced the existing Science Advisor and become the first technical member of the PAEC. He then expanded the research work on physics and its development in Pakistan by making more than 500 scientists move abroad.
- Two-component neutrino theory and the prediction of the inevitable parity violation in weak interaction
- Gauge unification of weak and electromagnetic interactions.
- Predicted the existence of weak neutral currents, and W and Z bosons, before their experimental discovery
- symmetry properties of elementary particles; unitary symmetry
- Renormalization of meson theories
- Gravity theory and its role in particle physics; two tensor theories of gravity and strong interaction physics.
- Unification of electroweak with strong nuclear forces, grand unification theory.
- Related prediction of proton-decay.
- Pati–Salam model, a grand unification theory.
- Supersymmetry theory, in the particular formulation of Superspace and formalism of superfields in 1974.
- The theory of supermanifolds, as a geometrical framework for understanding supersymmetry, in 1974.
- Supergeometry, the geometric basis for supersymmetry, in 1974.
- Application of the Higgs mechanism to ‘electroweak symmetry breaking.
- Prediction of the magnetic photon in 1966
Contributions For Pakistan
After returning to Pakistan in 1960, Salam took charge of the government post. On the whole, Ayub Khan was the one to assign him that post. Therefore, Salam replaced the existing Science Advisor and become the first technical member of the PAEC. He then expanded the research work on physics and its development in Pakistan by making more than 500 scientists move abroad.
In 1967, he become the focal administrative figure that led research in Theoretical and Particle physics. Furthermore, he contributed to the development of the institute of physics at Quaid-e-Azam University. He then moved the PAEC headquarters to a bigger area and helped establish research laboratories. Along with setting up plutonium and uranium exploration committees all across the country.
He also traveled to the US and signed an agreement with the US. That lead the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration to start building a space facility namely FTC in a coastal town in Balochistan. Where Salam served as the first technical director. In like manner, he established nuclear energy for peace. He also helped in setting up the Karachi Nuclear Power plant. He assists the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology in Islamabad. Moreover, Salam’s major contributions to the country included his work on the Space program.
The Demise of Abdus Salam
On November 21st, 1996 Pakistan lost its gem, Abdus Salam. He died in Oxford at the age of 70 due to progressive supranuclear palsy. Later On, he was brought back to Pakistan for his burial. Salam was buried at Bahishti Maqbara in Punjab, next to his parent’s graves. His influential works have been benefitting Pakistan for a long time. Moreover, his students and peers remember him as the ‘Father of Pakistan’s school of theoretical physics. Undoubtedly, the legacy of Abdus Salam will continue till eternity, he will be remembered across the world for his achievements. Abdus Salam strived to make developing countries invest in education, science, and technology. This message is as relevant now as it was 50 years ago.