Physicist with third-world cause
Ask Nobel Prize-winning physicist Abdus Salam why he devotes so much of his energy to furthering the cause of science in the developing world, and he cites three reasons. ``You must realize first of all that I'm a Muslim,'' he says, adding that ``for me the brotherhood of Muslims is a fundamental principal.''
He notes, too, that his upbringing in a minority community in Pakistan gave him ``a feeling for minorities.'' That very community, in fact, lined the streets of the country town of Jhang to applaud him in 1940 when, at age 14, he bicycled past after receiving the highest marks ever recorded on the entrance examination for Panjab University.
``The third thing is that I was exposed to the United Nations structure very early in my life,'' he says.
After attending Panjab University, Dr. Salam took his BA at St. John's College, Cambridge University. He later received his PhD in theoretical physics from Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory and took an appointment, which he still holds, at Imperial College of Science and Technology in London. For his work in the physics of elementary particles - on which he has published some 250 papers - he shared a Nobel Prize in 1979.
He now spends most of his time at the International Center for Theoretical Physics at Trieste, Italy, which he founded in 1964 and has directed ever since. In that capacity, and as head of the Third World Academy of Sciences, he has helped bring together physicists and mathematicians from the industrial nations and the developing world.