Imperial College London

Professor Brian Cox leads celebration of Abdus Salam’s legacy to physics

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Professors Claudia de Rham, Brian Cox and Atish Dabholkar

Professors Claudia de Rham, Brian Cox and Atish Dabholkar

Event marks the formal launch of the Abdus Salam Library, in celebration of the legacy of Professor Abdus Salam.

Imperial College London’s Great Hall was packed in celebration of Professor Abdus Salam– one of the giants of 20th century theoretical physics who made Imperial his academic home for 40 years. 

In celebration of Salam’s legacy, Professor Brian Cox CBE gave a lecture on the unification in the Standard Model of Particle Physics, and the ongoing quest for a unification of all forces of nature including gravity.

This quest for physical unification is central to the work in theoretical physics being pursued at Imperial today, and is built on Salam’s pioneering work on unifying the electromagnetic and the weak nuclear forces, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979.  

Five people stand in front of a large screen
Imperial's President Professor Hugh Brady, Professor Claudia de Rham, Professor Atish Dabholkar, Professor Brian Cox and Imperial's Provost Professor Ian Walmsley

The event marked the formal unveiling of the new Abdus Salam Library in recognition of the huge contribution Salam made to the field of theoretical physics. Salam was also the first Pakistani and first Muslim Nobel Laureate of science. 

At the event Professor Atish Dabholkar, Director of the International Centre of Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy spoke of Salam’s vital work fostering scientific connections with the Global South. The audience heard how Salam passionately believed that science was a uniting force in the world, founding the International Centre of Theoretical Physics devoted to advancing international collaboration and scientific expertise in the developing world. 

A documentary about Professor Abdus Salam

Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost of Imperial College London, who was lectured by Professor Salam while a student at Imperial, said: “Today marks Professor Abdus Salam's 98th birthday which we celebrate with the unveiling of our newly renamed Abdus Salam library.  

“We are delighted to have been able to welcome over 1,000 people to campus tonight both here in the Great Hall and a great many more connecting online all over the world. This level of engagement is a testament to the strength and excitement in the field and to Salam's ongoing legacy. 

“We are particularly pleased to welcome several of Salam’s children and wider family, along with some of his former students and collaborators and an incredible new generation of physicists boldly carrying Salam’s legacy into the future.

“Imperial is considered to be the birthplace of the Standard Model of elementary particles and the unification of the fundamental forces. Today, I continue to be amazed by the uninterrupted tradition and the strength of the ongoing research in the field and pursuit of more fundamental unification at Imperial.”  

Imperial decided to name the Central Library after Professor Salam as part of its ongoing response to the History Group’s report, which focused on Imperial’s associations with under-celebrated people from Imperial’s past.

As part of the celebrations, a special exhibition in the Queen’s Tower Rooms featured Salam's life, highlighting his scientific and humanitarian journey, and the role played by Imperial as his scientific home throughout his life. The exhibition is also available in an online format

Image credit: Fergus Burnett  

Reporter

Eleanor Green

Eleanor Green
Communications Division

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