The Daily Star, Dhaka
Saturday, November 23, 1996
In Nobel laureate Abdus Salam’s death theoretical science has lost a father figure. Not only did he dedicate his rare genius to the altar of pure physics but also left, alongside the rich legacy of original thoughts, a maieutic institution in Trieste for the young aspiring practitioners of science from the Third World.
Although there is much to take pride in the global recognition of Prof Salam as a physicist of exceptional merit, a lot is left to be desired in the people’s attitude of the region he hailed from.
Pursuance of the theoretical branch of science has apparently been on the wane in this part of the world. The fact of there being no universal recognition for anyone in the field of science from this belt after Mr Salam is a cogent argument for the observation of depressing sate in the realm of science studies.
The psychological bent of a people of a particular place at a certain point of history cannot be solely blamed for this dangerous trend. Economic constraint and the sad absence of visionary elements in those who run the governments in this region have also contributed to the reality of flagging interest in science studies.
The enthusiasm and popular interest with which the applied aspect of scientific advancement has struck roots in this region is sadly missing in the study of theoretical part of science.
Myopic wisdom has its logic in marginalising theoretical study of science on the grounds of it being less rewarding but extending vision both into future and past one shouldn’t find it difficult to realise that with proper and parallel feeding background of theoretical science, applied science will always be a source of delight and wonder for the achievement of original thinkers in the west.
A more meaningful and genuine mode of paying homage to the departed soul of Prof Salam would be to do something for the cause he lived for. Will the death of a savant contribute to a rekindling of interest in the purer and theoretical aspect of science, in the developing world, something his lifetime could not witness?