One of the aftershocks of recent evidence at CERN for the Higgs Boson is attention, as far as I can tell mainly via the Associated Press, of the low regard held in Pakistan for one of the theoretical physicists who helped put the H-particle in the cross hairs of experimentalists. The AP's Sebastion Abbot reports that Abdus Salam, who died in 1996 and who won a share of the Nobel Prize in 1979 for his contribution to what we call the Standard Model of Physics, was forced many years previous to leave his country. It has nothing to do with his physics, not even the unfortunate, popular-with-media nickname "god particle" for the Higgs. It has everything to do with his being born into a sect of Islam, the Ahmadis, that gives Islam's largest wings something to agree on: Ahmadis are even more heretical than Shiites and Sunni regard one another to be.
The story is not about science and physics exactly. But it gives one more emphatic illustration of the blind cruelty that may ensue after a nation builds its identity and laws around one specific religious community's scripture interpretations.
To educated Pakistanis, the Salam connection and his near-disappearance from the nation's official histories is nothing new. Here is one example from some years ago:
- Pakistan Daily Times (editorial, Nov. 22, 2006): The tragedy of our treatment of Dr. Abdus Salam ;
Speaking of physics and politics and the subcontinent...
- Huffington Post - Katy Daigle: Higgs Boson Controversy: Was Indian Physicist Satyendra Nath Bose Snubbed? ; In India they remember and honor local heroes.
- Charlie Petit