Home / Most Important / ABDUS SALAM – the Physicist and the Man

ABDUS SALAM – the Physicist and the Man

Dr. Mujahid Kamran

Abdus Salam was a man with a vision. Two passions dominated his life – a hunger for creating and acquiring knowledge at the highest level, and a burning desire to see the developing world stand up on its feet through cultivation of knowledge. He was hemmed between two worlds – on the one hand he wanted to fire the dormant South, the disease ridden world of the poor, the ignorant, and the sluggish with a thirst for knowledge; on the other hand, he kept prodding the conscience of the relevant sections of the North, the world of great scientists and narrow minded politicians, of idealists and giant vested interests, of plenty and power. He once onveyed his torment to RobertWalgate by bursting out with these lines of Omar Khayyam.

Ah love! could thou and I with fate conspire To grasp this sorry scheme of things entire Would we not shatter it to bits – and then Remould it nearer to the heart’s desire.

Salam as a Physicist: Given Salam’s brilliance, his first passion enabled him to join the ranks of the greatest physicists of the twentieth century. Salam’s distinguishing feature as a physicist was his uncanny knack for scenting out, from the plethora of confusing possibilities, the one idea that turns out to matter and leads to the deepest insight into the problem. It was a combination of this gift with his burning commitment that enabled him to stay, for four decades, in the forefront of research in High Energy Physics, an area in which even the most brilliant minds usually fade out after shinning for a few years.

In 1964, the journal Nature wrote of him: There are very few physicists in the world who have maintained such a constant and fertile flow of brilliant ideas as Abdus Salam has achieved during the past thirteen years.

This sentence remained true for another three decades. In almost every significant development in High Energy Physics in the period 1950-1992 (he was forced by illness to give up working in 1993), be it renormalisation, elucidation of the behavior of the weak nuclear force, unitary symmetry, electro-weak unification, supersymmetry, string theory or grand unification, Salam played a significant role.

It has been said of Salam’s scientific acumen that “His nose always points in the right direction”. (The late Professor M.S.K. Razmi, to whom I owe this sentence could not recall whether it had been uttered by Glashow or someone else). In summer 1990 I asked Salam what his “nose” told him about current ideas in his field. He said there was “definitely something” in supersymmetry. “It will always be there but may be at very high energies” he told me.
Mike Duff narrates that in the period 1969-72, when he was a graduate student at Imperial the Veneziano model was a hot topic. This model was used for strong nuclear interactions. He writes:

I distinctly remember Salam remarking on the apparent similarity between the mass and angular momentum of a Regge trajectory and that of an extreme black hole. Nowadays, of course, string theorists would juxtapose black holes and Regge slopes without batting an eyelid but to suggest that black holes could behave as elementary particles in the late sixties was considered preposterous by minds lesser than Salam.

Salam’s student Delbourgo has made an interesting observation about Salam’s ability to guess what would be right without having worked out the mathematics at all.
He writes: When standing up to argue with him on one of the finer points of the problem you had to be pretty darn sure of what you said because he had a wonderful intuition about the answer and was much more often right than wrong. When out of desperation you would confront him and ask him how he could be so certain…

To be continued

The writer is the vice chancellor of University of South Asia and he can be reached at mujahid_m51@yahoo.com or mujahid.kamran@gmail.com

Comment Using Facebook

Check Also

Dr. Iqrar appointed VC AUF on SC orders

Dr. Saleem Haider awaits justice for appointment as VC Lakki Marwat University No.1 candidate of KPK …


  1. 469965 448278Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything in this way before. So good to uncover somebody with some original suggestions on this subject. realy appreciate starting this up. this excellent website is something that is required more than the internet, a person if we do originality. valuable function for bringing something new towards the internet! 816428

  2. 201727 956546Thanks for the post, was an interesting read. Curious as to how you came about that solution 885417

  3. 154911 354501To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding 860669

  4. 728654 867419I located your blog on yahoo and can bookmark it currently. carry on the good work. 663576

  5. 956424 375609Hi there! I just wish to give an enormous thumbs up for the good information youve correct here on this post. I shall be coming once more to your weblog for extra soon. 359489

  6. 504101 551520You produced some decent points there. I looked on the web for that problem and discovered a lot of people is going together with with the internet website. 15356

  7. 472790 305020I conceive this internet site contains some rattling superb info for every person : D. 887229

  8. 932297 685870BTW, and I hope we do not drag this too long, but care to remind us just what kind of weapons were being used on Kurds by Saddams army? Towards the tune of hundreds of thousands of dead Talk about re-written history 564864

  9. 352446 893243I actually enjoyed reading this web site, this is great blog. 259885

  10. 148797 846059Sewing Machines […]any time to read or go to the content material or perhaps internet internet sites we definitely have associated with[…] 44491

  11. 817544 668466Hi there, just became aware of your blog by means of Google, and located that its truly informative. Ill be grateful should you continue this in future. Lots of folks will benefit from your writing. Cheers! 521275

  12. 798646 650882hi, your web site is fantastic. I truly do numerous thanks for operate 759911

  13. 813443 905622Sweet internet internet site , super style and design , rattling clean and utilize genial . 45174

  14. 538388 688502Some truly excellent articles on this internet web site , regards for contribution. 259445

  15. 981617 844487Ill correct away grasp your rss feed as I cant in locating your e-mail subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service. Do youve any? Please let me realize so that I may possibly subscribe. Thanks. 568584

  16. 449862 883489Your writing is fine and gives food for thought. I hope that Ill have far more time to read your articles . Regards. I wish you that you often publish new texts and invite you to greet me 211706

  17. 868705 34168dude this just inspired a post of my own, thanks 170243

  18. 370556 452342Thank you for your really great data and respond to you. 625339

  19. 322427 59385Great post. I previousally to spend alot of my time water skiing and watching sports. It was quite possible the very best sequence of my past and your content material kind of reminded me of that period of my life. Cheers 167149

  20. 68165 643139Some times its a pain in the ass to read what blog owners wrote but this internet web site is rattling user friendly ! . 802697

  21. 907549 638295Youll locate some fascinating points in time in this post but I do not know if I see all of them center to heart. Theres some validity but I will take hold opinion until I appear into it further. Wonderful post , thanks and we want considerably far more! Added to FeedBurner too 209495

  22. 154094 395330Just added this blog to my favorites. I enjoy reading your blogs and hope you keep them coming! 768672

  23. 605425 218564Thoughts talk within just about the web control console video clip games have stimulated pretty specialist to own on microphone as properly as , resemble the perfect tough guy to positively the mediocre ones. Basically fundamental problems in picture gaming titles. Drug Recovery 126579

  24. 160134 740736Most reliable human being mess