This is no ordinary day. It is the 10th death anniversary of Prof. Abdus Salam, the only Nobel laureate of Pakistani citizenship. Prof. Salam received the Nobel prize in 1979 for his “contributions to the theory of the unified weak and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles, including inter alla the prediction of the weak neutral current”. Prof. Salam was more than just a towering figure in Science. His life, his history from humble beginnings, and his love and passion for his country and faith, provide guiding principles to scientists like myself acros the globe. He is more than just an ideal, he is someody we need to enshrine, somebody we can use to cast a light of ponderence on ourselves as a society and learn all that we have done wrong.
I have written about Salam before, and Adil has just posted a terrific piece on pakistaniat.com on Salam’s 10th death anniversary. Below, I reproduce the speech that Salam gave at the banquet in honor of his Nobel Prize. His Nobel lecture can be seen here. It is said that when Salam went to India to meet his old high school Mathematics teacher, who was still alive at that time, he took off his Nobel prize and put it aroundhis teacher. The thought of that humility, that respect, and that realization of the real success in this world and hereafter, brings tears to my eyes. I wish I had met him, just to know I had seen into those eyes and known for sure that a better Pakistan can exist as long as better pakistanis exist.
Abdus Salam’s speech at the Nobel Banquet, December 10, 1979
Your Majesties, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of my colleagues, Professor Glashow and Weinberg, I thank the Nobel Foundation and the Royal Academy of Sciences for the great honour and the courtesies extended to us, including the courtesy to me of being addressed in my language Urdu.
Pakistan is deeply indebted to you for this.
The creation of Physics is the shared heritage of all mankind. East and West, North and South have equally participated in it. In the Holy Book of Islam, Allah says
“Thou seest not, in the creation of the All-merciful any imperfection, Return thy gaze, seest thou any fissure. Then Return thy gaze, again and again. Thy gaze, Comes back to thee dazzled, aweary.”
This in effect is, the faith of all physicists; the deeper we seek, the more is our wonder excited, the more is the dazzlement for our gaze.
I am saying this, not only to remind those here tonight of this, but also for those in the Third World, who feel they have lost out in the pursuit of scientific knowledge, for lack of opportunity and resource.
Alfred Nobel stipulated that no distinction of race or colour will determine who received of his generosity. On this occasion, let me say this to those, whom God has given His Bounty. Let us strive to provide equal opportunities to all so that they can engage in the creation of Physics and science for the benefit of all mankind. This would exactly be in the spirit of Alfred Nobel and the ideals which permeated his life. Bless You!
From Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 1979, Editor Wilhelm Odelberg, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1980
Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1979