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God Particle Brings East and West Together

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By Sardar Anees Ahmad

Originally Published in The Finger Lakes Times

On July 4th, 2012 American physicists – not politicians – had something grand to comment on: Scientists at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland had discovered the “God Particle.” Formally known as the Higgs boson, its discovery is considered to be on par with Copernicus’ discovery of the sun being the center of the solar system. Among those scientists who helped mankind reach this milestone was the first Muslim Nobel Laureate in Physics – the late Abdus Salaam. His story, and how Western media highlighted his story following the discovery on July 4th, unveils a silver lining for relations between the West and the Muslim world.

First, what is the Higgs boson and why is it also called the “God Particle”? Think of a field of Higgs boson particles as web of glue and all other particles in the universe as different types of balls moving through this web. Those balls that do not get stuck to the glue move effortlessly along while those who do get stuck move along slower or almost not at all. By being the “glue” that allows for particles to clump together and make atoms, the Higgs boson gives particles their mass. And that is why, to the chagrin of many scientists, it is also called the “God Particle” – without it, neither mass, nor the universe as it is today, would exist.

Salaam’s life’s work laid the groundwork for the Higgs boson discovery. His genius attracted the attention of the likes of Robert Oppenheimer and Paul Dirac. But his scientific genius did have a rival – his desire to spread scientific excellence to the Third World. Salaam would quickly establish the International Centre for Theoretical Physics – not in his native Pakistan – but in Trieste, Italy. And this is where it gets really interesting.

Salaam was an Ahmadi Muslim, which meant he held beliefs many Sunni and Shia Muslims find heretical. And while his native country has to date only one Nobel Laureate, Pakistan has bested even the most vehement radicals in its abuse of Salaam’s legacy. His name is erased from textbooks, his Nobel Prize winning research derided as a Zionist conspiracy, and his contribution towards the Higgs boson discovery almost completely ignored.

But while many of his countrymen and religious kin denounced Salaam, non-Muslim nations praised his efforts. Aside from Italy’s obvious appreciation of his work, many prominent Western media outlets – CNN, The Guardian, Globe and Mail, The Washington Post, etc. – praised Salaam’s efforts and underscored the shocking silence Pakistan observed following the Higgs boson discovery.

With a great deal of negative exposure on Muslims – a great deal of which is overblown – in the West, Salaam’s contribution is a breath of fresh air for non-Muslims and Muslims alike. And for the West to praise Salaam’s work – despite the excuse to give into unwarranted bias – generates intense love from Salaam’s admirers. And here lies the silver lining: Something as cold and calculating as physics illustrates that even the tiniest particle holds the potential to keep us together.

Posted by on July 27, 2012. Filed under Physics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

3 Responses to God Particle Brings East and West Together

  1. leila elkhalil

    July 28, 2012 at 2:23 am

    wow what a loss to pakistan’s tainted image ,but thank god for information technology of today ,otherwise this muslim genius’s name would have been changed to resemble greek or latin scientist and it would have taken god knows how many more years before this ummah recognized and acknowledged their fellow brother’s great contributions to the world of science , may allah elevate Abdus salaam’s memory and his station even more (ameen)

  2. nasir ahmad

    July 29, 2012 at 2:13 am

    As-Salaam goes to our Hero Abdus Salaam, the Newton of our era. Isn’t it funny when one comes to the conclusion, that history repeatts itself?

    Newton, in his time, was banned from the church after rebutting the trinity.

    So was Abdus Salaam. But it is not human who guards upon these names, it is the magnificent and most gracious, the everlasting Allah whom we praise day and night, second after second, all praise is only for Him, Allah, our Guardian, my Dear God and the best Friend of Men.

  3. M.S. Khalid,

    July 31, 2012 at 2:18 am

    Yes, the whole world has witnessed the strange phenomenon of the Unity, uniting the East and the West under the impact of the discovery of God- particle which has made another prediction of Dr. Salam come true after 16 years of his demise. This reminds me of Ch. Abdul Majeed and Ch. Abdul Wahab, two brothers of Dr. Salam who told this scribe that two research theses were under the active considertions of the Nobel prize committee when Dr. Salam died. Had he lived a few more months/years of his life, he would have won more Nobel prizes. Here one may add that one more Prize becomes due to him on the date when his ‘Boson-theory’ prediction is proved true in the LHC lab. results as CERN announced in Geneva on July 4, 2012. On this historic date, the whole world is feeling fascinated and thrilled by the discovery of God-particle,but not noticed in his birth-place country, Pakistan because here the Mulla or illiterate clergy is against Dr. Salam because he belonged to the Ahmadiyya sect of Muslims and therefore no one should mention his name/science work, in Pakistan. The rulers of this country are more afraid of Mulla than God Almighty.This is something like unpardonable sin of “Shirk”‘ sharing someone with God Almighty. What a shameful thing. The whole world knows Abdus Salam, only his own nation does not,this is just like saying that the whole Garden, every leave of tree knows him, only flower knows him not,( Janey na janey gul he na janey, Bagh to sara janey hai). This means in not knowing the flower, the loss is for the whole Garden, the country and its people. There is nothing negative for Dr. Salam, as the whole world is full of his praise on his outstanding achievements in understanding the Universe, the Works of God Almighty, through his knowledge of Physics and Math. and his theoretical predictions would always prove true in Lab. experiments, all this due to the blessings of the RabbullAlameen. Alhamdolillah.

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