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Doctor M Abdus Salam

Updated: Oct 4, 2020

Dr Mohammad Abdus Salam was born on 29 January 1926 and lived a full life till 21 November 1996). He was a world-famous Pakistani physicist.

He was awarded in 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics, which he shared with Sheldon Glashow and Steven Weinberg. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for his contribution to the electroweak unification theory. He became the first Pakistani to receive a Nobel Prize in science. After Anwar Sadat of Egypt, he became the second from an Islamic country to receive any Nobel Prize.

Salam served as a science advisor to the Ministry of Science and Technology in Pakistan for fourteen years, from 1960 to 1974, a position to play a significant and influential role in developing the country's science infrastructure. Salam contributed to developments in theoretical and particle physics. He was the founding director of the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) and responsible for the establishment of the Theoretical Physics Group (TPG) in the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC). As Science Advisor, Salam played a role in Pakistan's development of the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and may have contributed as well, via Project-706, to the development of the atomic bomb project of Pakistan in 1972; for this, he is viewed as the "scientific father" of this program. In 1974, Abdus Salam departed from his country, in protest, after the Parliament of Pakistan passed unanimously a parliamentary bill declaring members of the Ahmadiyya movement, to which Salam belonged, non-Muslims. In 1998, following the country's Chagai-I nuclear tests, the Government of Pakistan issued a commemorative stamp, as a part of "Scientists of Pakistan" to honor Salam's services.

Salam's notable achievements include:

  1. Pati–Salam model,

  2. Magnetic photon,

  3. Vector meson,

  4. Grand Unified Theory,

  5. Work on supersymmetry,

  6. Electroweak theory.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize. Salam made a significant contribution to quantum field theory and in the advancement of Mathematics at Imperial College London. With his student, Riazuddin, Salam made essential contributions to the modern theory on neutrinos, neutron stars, and black holes and 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 during his term as the chief scientific advisor to the president. Salam heavily contributed to the rise of Pakistani physics to the physics community in the world. Even until his death, Salam continued to contribute to physics and advocate for the development of science in Third-World countries.

Documentaries on Abdus Salam

Salam – the film

LLC started formally researching and developing a movie on the science and life of Abdus Salam in 2004, two years after the producers had conceived of the idea. A fundraising teaser was released by Kailoola Productions to coincide with Salam's birth anniversary on 29 January 2017. The post-production phase of this documentary film, pending funding, is estimated at US$150,000. The film Salam: The First ****** Nobel Laureate, directed by Anand Kamalakar, was announced in 2018 and released on Netflix in October 2019.

Abdus SalamThe Dream of Symmetry

Pilgrim Films released The Dream of Symmetry in September 2011. Their press release describes it as presenting "the extraordinary figure of Abdus Salam, who not only was an outstanding scientist but also a generous humanitarian and a valuable person. His rich and busy life was an endless quest for symmetry that he pursued in the universe of physical laws and human beings."


Dr Salam's genius was like magic...

And there was always an element of eastern mysticism in his ideas that left one wondering how to fathom his genius...

— Masud Ahmad, honouring Abdus Salam,

In 1997, scientists at ICTP renamed the institute as the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Salam's honour. Salam's services have been recognized in Pakistan, as his students have openly spoken and stressed the importance of Science and Technology in Pakistan. In 1999, per the recommendation of Ishfaq Ahmad, the Government of Pakistan led the Abdus Salam Chair in Physics at the Government College University. On 22 November 2009, the Director of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics gifted the original Nobel Prize Certificate to his alma mater. In 2011, GCU's Salam Chair in Physics held a one-day-long conference attributed to Abdus Salam. Salam's students, Ghulam Murtaza, Pervez Hoodbhoy, Riazuddin, and Tariq Zaidi, discussed Salam's life and works and brought to light his achievements in Pakistan and Physics. While covering the media converge on Salam's tribute, the News International, referred to Salam as the "great Pakistan scientist."

In 1998, the Edward A. Bouchet-ICTP Institute renamed the Edward Bouchet Abdus Salam Institute. In 2003, the Government of Punjab created an institute of excellence for the Mathematical Sciences, the Abdus Salam School of Mathematical Sciences, in Salam's Alma mater – Government College University.

That it has taken nearly four decades for this country to honour a globally renowned scientist who was one of its own is a sad reflection of the priorities that hold sway here... Dr Salam was an Ahmadi, a persecuted minority in Pakistan, and his faith rather than his towering achievements were the yardstick by which he was judged. — Dawn

In 2008, in an opinion piece, Daily Times called Salam "one of the greatest scientists Pakistan has ever produced."

In 2015, the Academy of Young Researchers and Scholars, Lahore, renamed its library as the "Abdus Salam Library."In Vaughan, Ontario, Canada, near the Canadian branch of the Ahmadiyya Community, Abdus Salam was a member. The community has named a street after him, 'Abdus Salam Street. Additionally, there are two annual Abdus Salam science fairs, one held in Canada and the other in the U.S. Each is organized as a National event for young scientists from the Ahmadiyya Community to motivate youth toward the scientific endeavour.

On 6 December 2016, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif approved the renaming of Quaid-i-Azam University's (QAU) physics centre to the Professor Abdus Salam Center for Physics. It was also announced that Professor Abdus Salam Fellowship will be established, including five annual fully funded Pakistani PhD students in the field of Physics in "leading international universities."

Awards and recognition

In 1979, Salam was awarded the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics, along with Glashow and Weinberg, For their contributions to the theory of the unified weak and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles, including, among other things, the prediction of the weak neutral current. Salam received high civil and science awards from all over the world. Salam is the recipient of the first high civil awards – Star of Pakistan (1959) and the Nishan-e-Imtiaz (1979) – awarded by the President of Pakistan for Salams' outstanding services to Pakistan. The National Center for Physics (NCP) contains an Abdus Salam Museum dedicated to Salam's life and his work as he discovered and formulated the Electroweak Theory. Below is the list of awards that were conferred to Salam in his lifetime.

  • Nobel Prize in Physics (Stockholm, Sweden) (1979)

  • Hopkins Prize (Cambridge University) for "the most outstanding contribution to Physics from 1957–1958."

  • Adams Prize (Cambridge University) (1958)

  • Fellow of the Royal Society (1959)

  • Smith's Prize (Cambridge University) (1950)

  • Sitara-e-Pakistan by the President of Pakistan for contribution to science in Pakistan (1959)

  • Pride of Performance Award by the President of Pakistan (1958)

  • The first recipient of the Maxwell Medal and Award (Physical Society, London) (1961)

  • Hughes Medal (Royal Society, London) (1964)

  • Atoms for Peace Award (Atoms for Peace Foundation) (1968)

  • J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize and Medal (University of Miami) (1971)

  • Guthrie Medal and Prize (1976)

  • Sir Devaprasad Sarvadhikary Gold Medal (Calcutta University) (1977)

  • Matteucci Medal (Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rome) (1978)

  • John Torrence Tate Medal (American Institute of Physics) (1978)

  • Royal Medal (Royal Society, London) (1978)

  • Nishan-e-Imtiaz by the President of Pakistan for outstanding performance in Scientific projects in Pakistan (1979)

  • Einstein Medal (UNESCO, Paris) (1979)

  • Shri R.D. Birla Award (India Physics Association) (1979)

  • Order of Andres Bello (Venezuela) (1980)

  • Order of Istiqlal (Jordan) (1980)

  • Cavaliere di Gran Croce dell'Ordine al Merito Della Repubblica Italiana (1980)

  • Josef Stefan Medal (Josef Stefan Institute, Ljublijana) (1980)

  • Gold Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Physics (Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, Prague) (1981)

  • Peace Medal (Charles University, Prague) (1981)

  • Lomonosov Gold Medal (USSR Academy of Sciences) (1983)

  • Premio Umberto Biancamano (Italy) (1986)

  • Dayemi International Peace Award (Bangladesh) (1986)

  • First Edinburgh Medal and Prize (Scotland) (1988)

  • "Genoa" International Development of Peoples Prize (Italy) (1988)

  • Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1989)

  • Catalunya International Prize (Spain) (1990)

  • Copley Medal (Royal Society, London) (1990)

Awards named after Salam

The Abdus Salam Award (also called the Salam Prize) is an award established to recognize high achievements and contributions in physical and natural sciences. In 1979, Riazuddin, Fayyazuddin, and Asghar Qadir met with Salam and presented the idea of creating an award to appreciate scientists, resident in Pakistan, in their respective fields. Salam donated the money he had won as he felt that he had no proper use for the prize money. It was endowed by Asghar Qadir, Riazuddin, and Fayyazuddin in 1980, and it was first awarded in 1981. The winners are selected by a committee (consisted of Aghar Qadir, Fayyazuddin, Riazuddin, and others) of the Center for Advanced Mathematics and Physics (CAMP), which administers the award. The Abdus Salam Medal is presented by the Third World Academy of Sciences in Trieste, Italy. It was first given in 1995. The award is presented to the people who have served the cause of science in the Developing World. The Abdus Salam Shield of Honor in Mathematics was initiated by the National Mathematical Society of Pakistan to promote and recognize quality research in Mathematics in 2015. It was awarded for the first time in 2016.


Salam's primary focus was research on the physics of elementary particles. His particular numerous groundbreaking contributions included:

  • two-component neutrino theory and the prediction of the inevitable parity violation in weak interaction;

  • gauge unification of weak and electromagnetic interactions, the unified force is called the "Electroweak" force, a name given to it by Salam, and which forms the basis of the Standard Model in particle physics;

  • predicted the existence of weak neutral currents, and W and Z bosons, before their experimental discovery;

  • symmetry properties of elementary particles; unitary symmetry;

  • the renormalization of meson theories;

  • gravity theory and its role in particle physics; two tensor theory 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 idea 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;

Institutes named after Abdus Salam

  • Abdus Salam Centre for Physics (Department of Physics), Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan

  • Abdus Salam National Centre for Mathematics (ASNCM), Government College University, Lahore, Pakistan.

  • Abdus Salam Chair in Physics (ASCP), Government College University, Lahore, Pakistan.

  • Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy.

  • Abdus Salam School of Mathematical Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan

  • The Edward Bouchet Abdus Salam Institute (EBASI)

Source: Multiple


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