Sunday, 7 February 2016

Super Humans - Mohammad Abdus Salam

   Mohammad Abdus Salam (Punjabi, Urdu: محمد عبد السلام‎; pronounced [əbd̪ʊs səlɑm]; 29 January 1926 – 21 November 1996), was a Pakistani theoretical physicist. Salam, a major figure in 20th century theoretical physics, shared the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics with Sheldon Glashow and Steven Weinberg for his contribution to the landmark electroweak unification. He was the first (and until Malala Yousufzai the only) Pakistani to receive a Nobel Prize, the first Muslim to win a Nobel prize in science and the second Muslim Nobel Laureate (after Anwar Sadat of Egypt).

   Salam was a top level science advisor to the Government of Pakistan from 1960 to 1974, a position from which he played a major and influential role in the development of the country's science infrastructure. Salam was responsible not only for contributing to major developments in theoretical and particle physics, but also for promoting the broadening and deepening of high calibre scientific research in his country. 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 an integral role in Pakistan's development of the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and may have contributed as well to development of atomic bomb project of Pakistan in 1972; for this, he is viewed as the "scientific father" of this programme. In 1974, Abdus Salam departed from his country, in protest, after the Pakistan Parliament passed a controversial parliamentary bill declaring the Ahmadiyya Community as not-Islamic. In 1998, following the country's nuclear tests, the Government of Pakistan issued a commemorative stamp, as a part of "Scientists of Pakistan", to honour the services of Salam. Salam's major and notable achievements include the Pati–Salam model, magnetic photon, vector meson, Grand Unified Theory, work on supersymmetry and, most importantly, electroweak theory, for which he was awarded the most prestigious award in physics – the Nobel Prize. Salam made a major contribution in quantum field theory and in the advancement of Mathematics at Imperial College London. 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 modernising 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 shortly before his death, Salam continued to contribute to physics and tirelessly to advocate for the development of science in Third-World countries.

   Abdus Salam was born to Chaudhry Muhammad Hussain and Hajira Hussain, into an Ahmadi Muslim Punjabi family. Chaudhry Muhammad Hussain was Jat and Hajirah a Kakkezai. His own grandfather, Gul Muhammad, was a religious scholar apart from being a physician. Salam's father was an education officer in the Department of Education of Punjab State in a poor farming district. Salam  established very earlya reputation throughout the Punjab and later at the University of Cambridge for outstanding brilliance and academic achievement. At age 14, Salam scored the highest marks ever recorded for the matriculation (entrance) examination at the Punjab University. He won a full scholarship to the Government College University of Lahore, Punjab State. Salam was a versatile scholar, interested in Urdu and English literature in which he excelled. But he soon picked up Mathematics as his subject of concentration. Salam's mentor and tutors wanted him to become an English teacher, but Salam decided to stick with Mathematics As a fourth-year student there, he published his work on Srinivasa Ramanujan's problems in mathematics, and took his B.A. in Mathematics in 1944. His father wanted him to join Indian Civil Service. In those days, the Indian Civil Service was the highest aspiration for young university graduates and civil servants occupied a respected place in the civil society. Respecting his father's wish, Salam tried for the Indian Railways but did not qualify for the service as he failed the medical optical tests because he had worn spectacles since an early age. The results further concluded that Salam failed a mechanical test required by the railway engineers to gain a commission in Indian Railways, and moreover that Salam was too young to compete for the job. Therefore, Indian Railways rejected Abdus Salam's job application. While in Lahore, Abdus Salam went on to attend the graduate school of Government College University. He received his MA in Mathematics from the Government College University in 1946. That same year, he was awarded a scholarship to St John's College, Cambridge, where he completed a BA degree with Double First-Class Honours in Mathematics and Physics in 1949. In 1950, he received the Smith's Prize from Cambridge University for the most outstanding pre-doctoral contribution to Physics. After finishing his degrees, Fred Hoyle advised Salam to spend another year in the Cavendish Laboratory to do research in experimental physics, but Salam had no patience for carrying out long experiments in the laboratory. Salam returned to Jhang, Punjab (now part of Pakistan) and renewed his scholarship and returned to the United Kingdom to do his doctorate. He obtained a PhD degree in Theoretical Physics from the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge. His doctoral thesis contained comprehensive and fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics. By the time it was published in 1951, it had already gained him an international reputation and the Adams Prize. During his doctoral studies, his mentors challenged him to solve within one year an intractable problem which had defied such great minds as Dirac and Feynman. Within six months, Salam had found a solution for the renormalisation of meson theory. As he proposed the solution at the Cavendish Laboratory, Salam had attracted the attention of Bethe, Oppenheimer and Dirac.

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