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Saturday, November 22, 2008

The unsung Prof Salam by Farhatullah Babar

Until 1979 scientists believed that there were four fundamental forces that drove every thing in the universe. Salam’s work proved that two of these four forces were actually one and the same. The number of fundamental forces was thus reduced to three. Salam believed that actually one single force drove the universe and that some day someone will be able to prove that the three remaining fundamental forces were one and the same.

When asked as to what he thought was the inspiration behind the great idea, which had earned him the Nobel Prize, Salam said, "Whenever faced with two competing theories for the same set of observation I have always found that the theory which was more aesthetically satisfying is also the correct one". He said he drew inspiration from this verse of the Quran, which says,

"Thou will see not in the creation of the All-merciful any imperfection,

Return thy gaze; Do you see thou any fissure?

Then return thy gaze again, and again,

And thy gaze comes back to thee dazzled and weary".

Towards the end, Salam was afflicted with a rare disease of the nerves that gradually took its toll. Finally he was unable to talk even as he fully understood what was being said to him.

May his soul rest in eternal peace!


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