Professor Abdus Salam

English Heritage has recognised the enormous scientific contribution of Professor Abdus Salam by installing a Blue Plaque at his former home in Putney, South London. Professor Salam was the first Ahmadi Muslim to win a Nobel Prize. The plaque reads “Nobel Laureate and champion of science in developing countries”.



Professor Abdus Salam is a man of three worlds, the world of Islam, the world of Theoretical Physics, and the world of International Co-operation in Science and Technology. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1979, for his theoretical unification of the two fundamental forces of nature. A year before his Nobel Prize, he was awarded the Royal Medal of the Royal Society of London.

His life’s work was key in defining a theory of particle physics still used today, and it laid the groundwork for the 2012 discovery of the Higgs Boson – the particle responsible for giving all other particles mass.

Indeed, Peter Higgs himself in a BBC interview with Prof Jim Al Khalili said he missed out on a Nobel Prize earlier and missed being part of one of physics’ biggest theory – because of an early night.

He says he was at a science meeting in 1960 with Abdus Salam and others where they contemplated ideas that would lead to a “theory of everything” – the Standard Model.

But the discussion went on into the small hours, and Prof Higgs went to bed early.


His Life

The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste

Professor Abdus Salam was awarded a scholarship to St. John’s College, Cambridge, where he took a BA (Honours) with a double First in mathematics and physics in 1949: he was a Wrangler. In 1950 he received the Smith’s Prize from Cambridge University for the most outstanding pre-doctoral contribution to physics. He also obtained a PhD in theoretical physics at Cambridge; his thesis, published in 1951, contained fundamental work in quantum electrodynamics which had already gained him an international reputation.

Salam returned to the newly created Pakistan and found it a barren place for intellectuals. He committed to find a way to solve the heartbreaking dilemma faced by many young and gifted theoretical physicists from the developing countries. In 1964 the ICTP, Trieste, Italy was opened. Professor Abdus Salam instituted the  “Associateships” which allowed the brightest and best young physicists from the developing countries to spend the time at the ICTP in an invigorating atmosphere, in symposia, workshops, lectures and in close touch with their peers in research and with the leaders in their own field.

In 1957 he was offered a Professorship of Theoretical Physics at Imperial College, London, and since 1964 he combined that position with that of Director of the ICTP, Trieste. Professor Abdus Salam always paid tribute to the farsighted and most generous nature of successive Rectors of Imperial College which allowed him to fulfil this duo role.

In November 1996 Professor Salam passed away. His distinguished career has left a mark on generations after him. For example, letters to the Editor of DAWN reads:

“The void created by the passing away of Prof. Dr. Abdus Salam, the internationally famous scientist, scholar and humanitarian, will be extremely difficult to fill and the immense loss, not only to the Third World, but the entire world of scientists, scholars, intellectuals and humanitarians will be almost irreplaceable.”

His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community

His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, World Head of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, said about Professor Salam:

“With the Grace of Allah, the very first Muslim Nobel Laureate was an Ahmadi Muslim, Professor Dr Abdus Salam, an eminent physicist who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1979. Throughout his life, Professor Salam spoke of how Islam, and the Holy Quran in particular, was the inspiration and guiding light behind his work.”

An inspiring documentary about the life of Professor Abdus Salam, his work and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is available on Netflix: “Salam The First ****** Nobel Laureate”





Work & Achievements

United Nations Assignments:
  • Scientific Secretary, Geneva Conferences on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy (1955 and 1958)
  • Elected Member of the Board of Governors, TAEA, Vienna (1962-63)
  • Member, United Nations Advisory Committee on Science and Technology (1964-75)
  • Elected Chairman, United Nations Advisory Committee on Science and Technology (1971-1972)
  • Member, United Nations Panel and Foundation Committee for the United Nations University (1970-73)
  • Member, United Nations University Advisory Committee (1981-83)
  • Member Council, University of Peace (Costa Rica) (1981-86)
  • Elected Chairman, UNSECO Advisory Panel on Science, Technology and Society (1981)


Other Assignments
  • Member, Scientific Council, SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) (1970)
  • Elected Vice President, International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) (1972-78)
  • Elected First President of the Third World Academy of Sciences (1983)
  • Member of the CERN Scientific Policy Committee (1983-86)
  • Member of the Board of Directors of the Beijir Institute of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (1986)
  • Member of the South Commision (1987- )
  • Elected 1st President of Third World Network of Scientific Organizations (1988)


Awards for contribution to physics
  • Hopkins Prize (Cambridge University) for the most outstanding contribution to physics during 1957-58 (1958)
  • Adams Prize (Cambridge Univeristy) (1958)
  • First receipient of Maxwell Medal and Award (Physical Society, London) (1961)
  • Hughes Medal (Royal Society, London) (1964)
  • Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Medal and Prize (University of Miami) (1971)
  • Guthrie Medal and Prize (Institute of Physics London) (1976)
  • Sir Devaprasad Sarvadhikary Gold Medal (Calcutta University) (1977)
  • Metteuci Medal (Accademia Nazionale di XL, Rome) (1978)
  • John Torrence Tate Medal (American Institute of Physics) (1978)
  • Roval Medal (Royal Society, London) (1978)
  • NOBEL PRIZE for Physics (Nobel Foundation) (1979)
  • Einstein Medal (UNESCO, Paris) (1979)
  • Shri R. D. Birla Award (Indian Physics Association) (1979)
  • Josef Stefan Medal (Josef Stefan Institute, Ljublijana) (1980)
  • Gold Medal for outstanding contribution to physics (Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, Prague) (1981)
  • Lomonosov Gold Medal USSR (USSR Academy of Sciences) (1983)
  • Copley Medal, Royal Society London (1990)


Awards for contributions towards peace and promotion of international scientific collaboration
  • Atoms for Peace Medal and Award (Atoms for Peace Foundation) (1968)
  • Peace Medal (Charles University, Prague) (1981)
  • Premio Umberto Biancamano (Italy) (1986)
  • Dayemi International Peace Award (Bangladesh) (1986)
  • First Edinburgh Medal and Prize (Scotland) (1988)
  • “Genoa” International Development of Peoples Prize (Italy) (1988)
  • Catalunya International Prize (Spain) (1990)


Academies and Societies
  • Elected, Fellow, Pakistan Academy of Sciences (Islamabad) (1954)
  • Elected, Fellow of the Royal Society, London (1959)
  • Elected, Fellow, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (Stockholm) (1970)
  • Elected, Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Boston) (1971)
  • Elected, Foreign Member, USSR Academy of Sciences (Moscow) (1971)
  • Elected, Foreign Associate, USA National Academy of Sciences (Washington) (1979)
  • Elected, Foreign Member, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Rome) (1979)
  • Elected, Foreign Member, Accademia Tiberina (Rome) (1979)
  • Elected, Foreign Member, Iraqi Academy (Baghdad) (1979)
  • Elected, Honorary Fellow, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (Bombay) (1979)
  • Elected, Honorary Member, Korean Physics Society (Seoul) (1979)
  • Elected, Foreign Member, Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco (Rabat) (1980)
  • Elected, Foreign Member, Accademia Nazionale delle Scienze (dei XL) (Rome) (1980)
  • Elected, Member, European Academy of Sciences, Arts and Humanities (Paris) (1980)
  • Elected, Associate Member, Josef Stefan Institute (Ljublijana) (1980)
  • Elected, Foreign Fellow, Indian National Sciences Academy (New Delhi) (1980)
  • Elected, Fellow, Bangladesh Academy of Sciences (Dhaka) (1980)
  • Elected, Member, Pontifical Academy of Sciences (Vatican City) (1981)
  • Elected, Corresponding Member, Portuguese Academy of Sciences (Lisbon) (1981)
  • Founding Member, Third World Academy of Sciences Trieste (1983)
  • Elected, Corresponding Member, Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts (Zagreb) (1983)
  • Elected, Honorary Fellow, Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (1984)
  • Elected, Honorary Member, Polish Academy of Sciences (1985)
  • Elected, Corresponding Member, Academia de Ciencias Medicas, Fisicas y Naturales de Guatemala (1986)
  • Elected, Honorary Life Fellow, London Physical Society (1986)
  • Elected, Fellow, World Academy of Art and Science (Stockholm) (1986)
  • Elected, Corresponding Member, Academia de Ciencias Fisicas, Mathematicas y Naturales de Venezuela (1987)
  • Elected, Fellow, Pakistan Academy of Medical Sciences (1987)
  • Elected, Honorary Fellow, Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore (1988)
  • Elected, Distinguished International Fellow of Sigma Xi (1988)
  • Elected, Honorary Member, Brazilian Mathematical Society (1989)
  • Elected, Honorary Member, National Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences, Argentina (1989)
  • Elected, Honorary Member, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (1990)
  • Elected, Member, Academia Eureopaea (1990)


  • Order of NISHAN-E-IMTIAZ (Pakistan) (1979)
  • Order of Andres Bello (Venezuela) (1980)
  • Order of Istiqlal (Jordan) (1980)
  • Cavaliere de Gran Croce dell’Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (1980)
  • Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1989)


  • Punjab University, Lahore, Pakistan (1957)
  • University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK (1971)
  • University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy (1979)
  • University of Islamabad, Islamabad, Pakistan (1979)
  • Universidad Nacional de Ingenieria, Lima, Peru (1980)
  • University of San Marcos, Lima, Peru (1980)
  • National University of San Antonio Abad, Cuzco, Peru (1980)
  • Universidad Simon Bolivar, Caracas, Venezuela (1980)
  • University of Wroclow, Wroclow, Poland (1980)
  • Yarmouk University, Yarmouk, Jordan (1980)
  • University of Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey (1980)
  • Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, India (1981)
  • Muslim University, Aligarh, India (1981)
  • Hindu University, Banaras, India (1981)
  • University of Chittagong, Bangladesh (1981)
  • University of Bristol, Bristol, UK (1981)
  • University of Maiduguri, Maiduguri, Nigeria (1981)
  • University of Philippines, Quezon City, Philippines (1982)
  • University of Khartoum, Khartoum, Sudan (1983)
  • Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain (1983)
  • The City College, The City University of New York, USA (1984)
  • University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya (1984)
  • Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Cuyo, Argentina (1985)
  • Universidad Nacional de la Plata, La Plata, Argentina (1985)
  • University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK (1985)
  • University of Goteborg, Goteborg, Sweden (1985)
  • Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia, Sofia, Bulgaria (1986)
  • University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland (1986)
  • University of Science and Technology, Hefei, China (1986)
  • The City University, London, UK (1986)
  • Punjab University, Chandigarh, India (1987)
  • Medicina Alternativa, Colombo, Sri Lanka (1987)
  • National University of Benin, Contonou, Benin (1987)
  • University of Exetes, UK (1987)
  • University of Gent, Belgium (1988)
  • “Creation” International Association of scientists and Intelligentsia, USSR (1989)
  • Bendel State University, Ekpoma, Nigeria (1990)
  • University of Ghana (1990)
  • University of Tucuman, Argentina (1991)


Pakistan Assignments
  • Member, Atomic Energy Commission, Pakistan (1958-74)
  • Elected President, Pakistan Association for Advancement of Sciences (1961-62)
  • Adviser, Education Commission Pakistan (1959)
  • Member Scientific Commission Pakistan (1959)
  • Chief Scientific Adviser to President of Pakistan (1961-74)
  • Founder Chairman, Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Committee (1961-64)
  • Governor from Pakistan to the International Atomic Energy Agency (1962-63)
  • Member National Science Council, Pakistan (1963-75)
  • Member, Board of Pakistan Science Foundation (1973-77)


Pakistani Awards
  • Sitara-e-Pakistan (1959)
  • Pride of Performance Medal and Award (1959)
  • The Order of Nishan-e-Imtiaz (the highest civilian award) (1979)


As “Servant of Peace”
  • Member, Scientific Council, SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) (1970)
  • Awarded the Atoms for Peace Medal and Award (Atoms for peace foundation) (1968)
  • Peace Medal (Charles University, Prague) (1981)
  • Premio Umberto Biancamano, Italy (1968)
  • Dayemi International Peace Award (Bangladesh) (1986)
  • Member, Council, University for Peace, Costa Rica (1981-86)
Published Papers
  • Around 250 scientific papers on physics of elementary particles. Papers on scientific and educational policies for developing countries and Pakistan.


External links