Abdus Salam: The Dream of Symmetry


22 Oct 2016

Physics, Mathematics

This documentary from 2011 discusses the first Muslim Nobel prize winner in science, Abdus Salam (1926-1996) from Pakistan.

The documentary, which is subdivided into several sections, presents a variety of physicists discussing the impact of Abdus Salam on their own scholarship, as well as on science in the developing world.  They recount not only Salam’s science, but his personality and energy.  Along the way, Cambridge University’s mathematics and physics studies are discussed in the period when Salam was there, 1946-1950.

Salam’s biography is presented, from childhood in Pakistan through his education in England.  His travels in search of a position that would enable him to both teach and research is documented.

The scientists present a discussion of Abdus Salam’s efforts to understand symmetry in physics, and how his collaborations with other scientists (Steven Weinberg and Sheldon Lee Glashow,) resulted in the Nobel prize in 1979.

There is also a discussion of Abdus Salam’s efforts to build and fund the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy.


Islam:  There is little mention of Islam.  That Dr. Abdus Salam followed the Ahmadi sect is mentioned, as is problems faced by Ahmadis in the 1950s in Pakistan.

Science:  The presentation of scientific ideas here is on a high level, which some may find difficult to follow.  However, it is an accurate presentation of the understanding of these ideas at the time the documentary was created.

History:  The historical material presented is reasonably accurate, if perhaps somewhat idealized.