On Wednesday, 30th January, 2013, the Faculty of Engineering and Technology hosted the 10th Abdus Salam Memorial Lecture, 2013. The memorial lecture was delivered by Prof. Tariq Aziz, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai on the theme of “Quest for the Genetic Code of the Universe – A legacy of Salam”.
The Abdus Salam Memorial Lecture — conducted in memory of the 1979 Nobel prize winning Pakistani theoretical physicist Muhammad Abdus Salaam — was started by the Department of Physics with the idea of perpetuating the ideas that Salam believed in, namely to encourage education and research in the fundamental sciences.
Each year, an eminent scientist is invited to deliver a lecture. Earlier Abdus Salam Memorial Lectures have been delivered by luminaries such as J. V. Narlikar, Nobel Laureate; Gerard’t Hooft, Nobel Laureate; D.D. Osheroff, T.V. Ramakrishnan, T. Padmanabhan, K.R. Sreenivasan, Mustansir Barma, Professor G Baskaran, Professor R Rajaraman among others.
The event commenced with a recitation of the Holy Quran, which was followed by a floral tribute to the dignitaries present including Prof. Aziz, Prof. M. Zulfiqar, Prof. Z.H. Zaidi, Prof. S.S. Alam and Prof. M. Hussain.
Prof. Zulfiqar, Head, Department of Physics, JMI was called upon to give the welcome address. He began with a brief introduction to Abdus Salam, his Nobel Prize for his contribution towards electroweak unification, and his visit to Jamia Millia Islamia in 1981, the setup of ICTP (International Centre for Theoretical Physics) in Italy, his constant advocation for the development of science in Third-World countries and his death in 1996 at Oxford, England.
Prof. Zulfiqar then introduced Prof. T. Aziz who is a Senior Professor at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai. Prof. Aziz completed his Ph.D. from Aligarh Muslim University in 1979 and was the Chairperson of the Department of High Energy Physics, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research till recently.
Prof. Zulfiqar was followed by Prof. Z.H. Zaidi who was called upon to deliver introductory remarks. He spoke of how a person is deemed to be dead only when forgotten and went on to thank the university for keeping Dr. Salam’s memory alive with the lecture series. He described how Dr. Salam had visited and given two lectures at Jamia Millia Islamia and gave many a chance to learn and be inspired. Dr. Salam even federated the departments of Physics and Mathematics here and was known to be ever-ready to do everything he could for its progress.
He concluded by saying that Dr. Salam always had great feelings for this region and did not even want it referred as the Third-World. He frequently referred to the Holy Quran where “it is indicated and invited to learn from the universe”. Prof. Zaidi completed his address saying that the university is forever indebted to him, his contributions and sympathetic attitude towards Jamia.
Prof. S. Alam, Vice-Chancellor, Aliah University, came next to deliver the presidential address. He briefly spoke about how Dr. Salam had brought laurels to the world and how his work, which won him a Nobel in 1979, “amalgated the study of nature, God’s work and science.”
Then Prof. Tariq Aziz took to the stage. With a powerpoint presentation, he took the audience through the “quest for the genetic code of the universe.” He began with a slide which had a quote of Salam upon it that read: “I have spent my life working on two problems; the first is to discover the basic building blocks and secondly, the basic forces among them.”
He then went through an article by Carlo Rubbia wherein he stated that Salam’s work encompassed the Third-World, Islam and Physics. Quoting Salam he said, “Science and Religion refer to different worlds. Religion refers to things like soul and Allah, not to matter”, he presented two questions to the audience:
Q1. What is the universe, how did it begin, what is it made of and how will it evolve in the future?
Q2. What are the fundamental building blocks?
He then broke them down to subparts such as “What is the origin of mass?”, “Why is there more matter than anti-matter?”, “How many dimensions are there?”, “Why is the photon massless and the W, Z bosons massive?” and so on.
His lecture continued with slides on Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, the energy and mass scales, distance scales in particle physics and the standard model proposed by Dr. Salam. He went on to talk and lecture about the recently-in-news, Higg’s boson, its importance and how Dr. Salam and others build their ideas around the Higg’s particle. Slides on dark matter, dark energy and SUSY theories followed. Finally Prof. Aziz talked in detail about the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) and the Indian contribution towards it, in particular the Outer Hadron Calorimeter. He went on with the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) experiment and concluded with super-symmetry.
His talk was followed by an address by Prof. Hussain and a question-and-answer session with the student audience.
More on Abdus Salaam:
Watch a short trailer of an upcoming documentary on Abdus Salaam here: