Monday, 18 November 2019

Professor Abdus Salam

A personal account
by Wasi Faruqi


My first encounter with Professor Abdus Salam was in the early 1950s in Lucknow - though I can only remember this vaguely. The occasion, which brought Salam to Lucknow was the Indian Science Congress (ISC), which took place in 1953. My father worked in the Department of Fisheries as a Senior Fisheries Biologist and was probably roped in to help with the organisation of the major conference. Professor Abdus Salam, who was, I think, still based in Lahore, was invited as a guest to the ISC where they got to know one another.

Six years later, Salam was part of a two-man panel (the other person was I H Usmani, Chairman, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC). interviewing for Ph D scholarships, some of which were funded by the British Council for studies in the UK. By this time Salam was already a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) at an incredibly young age and appointed as a Professor of Theoretical Physics at Imperial College, London.  Following my scholarship award the question arose about which University to approach for admission to a doctoral course. Contact was re-established with Salam by my father to help with admission to the Physics Department in the same institution as Salam. My father had completed his PhD in Zoology at Imperial College, London, in the pre-war period. As my mathematical training was inadequate, Salam suggested that the Experimental High Energy Group as more suitable as I did possess some experience in experimental physics from my MSc course in Government College, Lahore. Coincidentally Salam had been a student and Professor at Government College Lahore prior to leaving for Imperial College. I duly enrolled at Imperial College with Anthony Newth, a friend of Salams, who was, like Salam a Cambridge man.

Nobelprize Banquet in Stockholm 10 December 1979
As an aside, it is interesting to note that Salam was extremely helpful in training Pakistani students, many in his own group, with the noble aim of raising the general level of education in Pakistan. Salam was responsible for the higher education of a large number of Pakistani students, notably the twins Riazuddin and Fayyazuddin who later went on to set up their own groups elsewhere, including in Pakistan. I recall many interactions between the Experimentalists such as Anthony Newth and Salam, particularly when discussing the theoretical significance of some experimental results, or planning future experiments. During the period of my doctoral work, i.e. 1961-1964, Salam was in one of his most productive periods, probably similar to the 1950s when he narrowly missed the Nobel Prize for his work on Weak Interactions to Yang and Lee.  

However, in 1979 he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Sheldon Glashow and Steven Weinberg for his contribution to the Electroweak Unification Theory. He also won numerous other awards, including the Copley Medal and the Royal Medal.

The passion Salam had for raising the awareness for science in developing countries was reflected in his quest for the development of an International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP). He correctly imagined that such a Centre could be potentially much larger in scope than individual university departments in his objectives. An expensive venture such as the ICTP was not easy to fund. However, with skill, persistence and tenacity Salam was able to convince UNESCO, the Italian Government, and many others to fund such a centre in Italy. The Centre, now known as the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), flourishes to this day in a scenic location in Trieste overlooking the Adriatic Sea and continues to attract many scientists from developing countries who would otherwise miss out on this rich experience. The Centre ran many postgraduate courses, which included a bi-annual Biophysics Lecture Program. Having switched to Structural Biology myself and working in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, I received an invitation to lecture on a couple of the Biophysics courses on the application of synchrotron radiation in biology. The course was during Summer with warm weather and Salam could be found occasionally sitting on the Veranda, post-lunch, teaching his young son. I joined him in these semi-leisurely occasions a few times but more often did not want to intrude on their privacy. Around this period, the Pakistani Government was going through an anti-Ahmadi phase and Salam was declared a non-Muslim. His reaction to this event was surprisingly mild and philosophical, suggesting that ‘we need to raise the level of education in our country’. I was extremely flattered in being included in the ‘we’ but was more surprised by the lack of bitterness he showed. Maybe you need to have true ‘greatness’ for such a reaction.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Raffay's 14th Birthday


Why are you sitting on a pile of money, Raffay?

It’s my new hobby. I am collecting it. 

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Get Well Card

James, stop that at once! You know the doctor said you should take it easy!

Friday, 24 November 2017


All cultures and countries have wonderful food to celebrate their festivals. In Austria, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the ubiquitous Vanille Kipferl, the Vanilla Crescent. Over the years I have been baking tons of the stuff. Hanna, our first grandchild, helped to bake them as soon as she was old enough to want to do it. She became really good at it and later taught her brother and sister the secrets of how to bake the perfect Vanilla Crescent.  I have posted the recipe including all the handy tips, as some of my FB friends were interested. 


10 oz (300g) plain flour
8 oz (240g) unsalted butter (essential)
2 oz (60g) sugar (caster)
4 oz (120g) ground almonds
(buy almonds with brown skin on and grind with skin – should be ground fairly fine)
Icing Sugar with Vanilla Sugar, mixed, for coating.

Sift 4 oz of icing sugar into a largish bowl or similar  and mix in 1 sachet of Bourbon Vanilla Sugar. If you have icing sugar which contains pods of vanilla then you can omit the addition of the sachet.

Rub the butter into the flour, add the sugar and the ground almonds and work them together into a ball of dough, keeping the touch light to make sure the dough stays ‘short’. ( This can nowadays be done in a food processor) Take small portions of this pastry, roll them into a sausage shape about 1" in diameter and cut the sausage into small pieces. Form each of these small pieces into a crescent shape, put them onto a baking tray (lightly greased) and bake in a moderate oven for 6 - 7 mins (maybe a little longer - until they are just turning a biscuit colour - not too dark). Take them out of the oven and gently take them off the tray immediately with a slotted metal slice and place them on a wire-rack to cool slightly. (I find it helps to knock the tray once or twice on the table top to loosen the crescents if they stick). Place them into the bowl with the vanilla flavoured icing sugar and coat them completely. Handle them carefully, because they are rather fragile. Take them out of the icing sugar and place them into a tin. When they are all in the tin, sift some of the icing sugar over the top. When the crescents in the tin are completely cold, put on the lid and keep them in a cool place, away from sunlight (very important)until needed. They keep well for about one to two month in an airtight container. 

On this picture you can see that Yasmin and Aania have shaped the dough into a sausage and have cut off small portions to be made into crescents. They then placed them onto a baking tray thus.

When they came out of the oven (notice the colour – they must not be darker than this) the girls turned them in the Vanilla icing sugar and placed them into a tin. 

  When completely cool, the tin will be closed and the crescents stored in a dark, cool place. They improve with time and can be stored for a couple of months at least.

I baked some as well that day and here are some that I made! 

Some photos of Hanna, Roman and Tabatha making Vanilla Crescents. 

Thursday, 2 November 2017


I had this amazing video from Iona. She filmed it herself. I am sure Yasmin helped with wardrobe and make up. Spooooooooooky! 

Thursday, 21 September 2017

COOL BRIGHT WATER, written and performed by Yasmin Wilde (Faruqi)

Yasmin wrote this song (lyrics and music) and performed it too, including the piano part. The saxophone solo is by Peter Effamy, who also recorded the song. 


It is fun to design Sasha birthday cards for my grandchildren. They  usually have a simple story line, taking into account what sorts of interests each one of them has. Here are a few: 

This one is for Raffay. He loves science and of course, I had to use my Sasha boy 'Raffay' as the model. 

Are you ready for the next slide, Dr Rowland? Certainly, Dr Rowland! 

Gender equality - always!

I have cheated a little and used the same set up for my other Grandson Roman. He is also into science. This is my Sasha boy 'Roman'.  Hoping my two Grandsons won't see each others birthday cards or Grandma will be found out! 

This one was last year's birthday card for Raffay. He is a passionate drummer, and really quite good at it. He is giving a demonstration of his skills to some of the Sashas. 

One more for Raffay. A two picture card.

Hanna to Raffay: Take your feet off the table, Raffay!

Raffay: What's her problem. Boy, girls are so bossy!

My Granddaughters, on the whole, are quite happy to just have a pretty Sasha on their Birthday Card. This was an exception.I mad it for Hanna, who is already a bit older.

Bathtime for the babies

All clean! Phew!!!

There are many more. I have 5 Grandchildren and they have a birthday once a year!!! This is just a taster!