The life and times of Dr Abdus Salam

Mujahid-Kamran-New-640x480 Mujahid Kamran in The Express Tribune:

Pakistan’s only Nobel laureate Abdus Salam was born in Santok Das, District Sahiwal, on January 29, 1926 a little over 85 years ago. He shared the 1979 physics Nobel Prize with Steven Weinberg and Sheldon Glashow for the historic unification of the weak nuclear force with the electromagnetic force.

Salam had already become famous in British India as a very young record-breaking student from Jhang, where he grew up, when he arrived at Government College, Lahore in 1942 as a bachelor’s student. At Government College, too, he continued his record-breaking streak in every major exam and passed out with a Master’s in mathematics in 1946.

Salam arrived at Cambridge as a student of Tripos mathematics in September, 1946 with a three-year scholarship. He completed his mathematics Tripos in two years with a first class. His teacher, Fred Hoyle, one of the most renowned astrophysicists of the 20th century, advised him to do the two-year physics Tripos in one year “as a challenge”. A few others had achieved this feat, after having done a math Tripos in first class. The list included two Nobel laureates — Sir GP Thomson, the grandfather of the present British High commissioner to Pakistan, and Sir Nevil Mott. However, both had secured a second class in the physics Tripos. The challenge was to secure a double first class. Salam was, to the utter surprise of some of his teachers, able to secure a first class in the physics Tripos as well, while completing it in one year. This was a most unusual achievement.