is Abdus Salam’s birthday! He was among the most influential physicists of the 20th century and the first Pakistani to win a +Nobel Prize
in sciences for his work on the electroweak theory.
By the young age of 25, Salam had already earned a Master’s degree in mathematics (1941) with the highest honours at Government College in what is now Punjab, Pakistan, and a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics (1949) and PhD in theoretical physics (1951) from the University of Cambridge. At this point in his life, he was already internationally renowned for his work in quantum electrodynamics.
In the late 1960s, Salam devised the electroweak theory on unifying two of the four known forces of nature: electromagnetic force and weak nuclear force. He hypothesized that weak force was transmitted by carrier particles — charged W and neutral Z bosons. Experiments conducted in the 70s substantiated his theory, marking his work as an important contribution to Einstein's dream of unified forces and subsequently earning Salam — along with two others who had reached similar conclusions — the Noble prize in Physics in 1979. Later in 1983, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, +CERN
, further verified the existence of these carrier particles and their predicted masses.
Salam’s legacy lives on through the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy, which he created in 1964 in collaboration with the #IAEA
, and the Government of Italy, among others. The ICTP aims to give scientists, particularly from developing countries, the chance to further their research and education in sciences — a mission Salam himself helped to financially support using his prize money from awards such as the Atoms for Peace medal and the Nobel Prize. For over 50 years, the #IAEA
and the #ICTP
have continued to collaborate in furthering the work of young scientists in areas such as plasma spectroscopy, nuclear knowledge and energy management, nuclear data and analytical applications, and fusion.