Abdus Salam was born in 1926 and raised in Jhang, now known as Pakistan. At the age of 14, he obtained the highest marks ever recorded for the Matriculation Examination at the University of Punjab. The whole village welcomed him proudly. Soon after, the university of Punjab attributed him a scholarship.
In 1950, Salam won the Smith’s Prize from Cambridge University for the most outstanding pre-doctoral contribution to physics. His thesis was published in 1951 and made him gain an international reputation.
Salam returned to Pakistan in 1951 and became a Mathematics teacher at the government college Lahore. A year later, he became head of the Mathematics Department of the Punjab University.
The scientist decided in 1954 to leave his native country for the Cambridge university, because of the scientific isolation he was living in. However, he kept working as an advisory on science policy in Pakistan.
His work in Pakistan reached a lot of people and he became an influential figure. He was member of the Scientific Commission of Pakistan and was Chief Scientific Adviser to the President from 1961 to 1974.
Disappointed by his experience at the Pakistani universities, he founded the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in 1964, with help of the UNESCO. The main goal of the institution is to give better support to young scientists from developing countries. To top all of his achievements, he won in 1979, together with Sheldon Lee Glashow and Steven Weinberg, the Nobel Prize in Physics, for their contributions to ‘the theory of the unified weak and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles’.
For over 40 years, Abdus Salam has been a brilliant researcher in theoretical elementary particle physics. He was either the pioneer or the associated figure in all the important developments in this field.
His religion was an important part of his life, Salam once said that “Our generation has been privileged to glimpse a part of His design, it is a bounty and a grace for which I render thanks with a humble heart.”