A personal account
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.