Love with Physics

By Abdullah Farhad

I know a man who fell in love with Physics. As his love grew, his commitment to Physics grew proportionately. Dr. Salam is the man who remained in an everlasting relationship with Physics until his last breath.

In his early days, he was mostly interested in literature and was fond of Punjabi poetry. But, later, as he met with Physics, he fell in love with it. He got his first scholarship for Government College Lahore due to Physics and Maths. During his studies at GC University, he explored the world of Physics and discovered a tremendous world in it. He published his first research work on Srinivasa Ramunjan’s problem in Mathematics in 1944. In those days Physics too accepted Dr. Salam and hugged him with a warm heart. Thus, the love began Dr. Salam again earned a scholarship for Saint John’s College Cambridge. He completed his BA degree in double first-class honours in Maths and Physics. He did his Ph.D. and Doctorate from Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge.

We all know, love has several difficult phases, so was the case with Dr. Salam too. During his doctorate, his mentors challenged him to solve an intractable problem within one year. This problem defied the great minds of those days such as Paul Dirac and Richard Feynman. Dr. Salam found the solution for the renormalisation of meson theory within six months. Dr. Salam’s doctoral thesis was “Development in Quantum Theory of Fields”.

As the love for Physics sparked, Dr. Salam returned to Pakistan and started teaching Mathematics at Punjab University. As his passion needed some innovation, he changed the syllabus of Maths and Physics. He added Quantum Physics in the course which was later reverted by the Vice-Chancellor of Punjab University. Dr. Salam contributed to Theoretical Physics and started serving Pakistan. He established SUPARCO and became its first director. He initiated Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission PAEC. He built the Institute of Physics at Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad.

Love begets love. He is known as the founder and scientific father of Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. He was awarded Sitara-e-Pakistan for his amazing services to the country’s space program. Violent religious riots began in the country to a larger extent. One day he found himself at the edge of this violence. He was in between Physics and Pakistan. But he opted for Physics and left for the UK.

Dr. Salam began a new chapter of love with Physics. He joined St. John’s college as a professor. He launched a scholarship program for his Pakistani students. He sent more than 500 physicists and mathematicians to the UK and the USA for higher studies. He made a group of Theoretical Physicists in the UK in which most of the Pakistanis were included. Dr. Salam was the young person to be selected as a fellow of the Royal Society in 1959. He became the secretary of several UN’s scientific societies. He built up the International Centre of Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Italy. In 1972 Dr. Salam worked with an Indian-American Dr. Jogesh Pati. Pati wished many times to work under Dr. Salam’s direction. They worked together and developed the Pati-Salam Model. Dr. Salam received hundreds of awards and honours due to the platonic love with Physics.

The love with Physics was at a peak when Dr. Salam nominated for the prestigious Nobel Prize for Physics. He got his Nobel Prize in 1979. He shared his prize with Sheldon Glashow and Steven Weinberg for their work known as Electroweak Unification Theory. The love of Dr. Salam for Physics will never die.

The is holds an M.Phil Degree in Education from University of Education Lahore

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