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Islamic Pakistan has no need of scientists

It is said, probably apocryphally, that in rejecting an appeal for the great French chemist Antoine Lavoisier to be spared the guillotine, the revolutionary judge said, “The Republic has no need of scientists”.

The great Pakistani physicist Abdus Salam, the first Muslim to win a Nobel prize for science, has been written out of Pakistani history for being the wrong sort of Muslim, writes Rob Crilly in the Telegraph. Among the saddest aspects of this story is that when reading this I could not wholeheartedly join in with Mr Crilly’s wish that Professor Salam’s name should again be honoured in his homeland. While public and elite opinion in Pakistan remains such that it does not wish to claim a great nuclear physicist – and one of the architects of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme – as its own, better for the world that Pakistan gets its wish.

12 comments to Islamic Pakistan has no need of scientists

  • From the Telegraph article you link to:

    So this summer as scientists closed in on the Higgs boson and while India expressed pride in the role of Satyendra Nath Bose, a physicist who gave part of his name to the elusive particle, Pakistan failed to mark their man’s contribution.

    I won’t be too hard on the journalist, because it is made clear that he is a Pakistan specialist rather than a science journalist, but that’s s distortion.

    Bose described and gave his name to an entire class of particles called bosons, of which the Higgs Boson is only one example. All elementary particles are either bosons or fermions, and Bose also formulated the statistical description of the behaviour of bosons, along with Albert Einstein (Bose-Einstein statistics). (Fermions are described by Fermi-Dirac statistics, and if you are a physicist, one has to say that Einstein, Fermi, and Dirac make impressive company).

    Although you could say that Bose made a contribution to the discovery of the Higgs Boson, what he did was actually much greater than that. The Indians did indeed take pride in this in the context of the Higgs Boson, but non-physicist Indians did not take nearly enough pride.

    Still, that is only because they did not understand it well enough. One cannot imagine Indians failing to take pride in the achievements of one of their countrymen because he belonged to the wrong religious sect, thankfully.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    At last, someone gets it!!! Who needs scientists? They only cause trouble! Wouldn’t the world be better off if Einstein hadn’t found out that E=MCsquared?

  • David Gillies

    He still had an office in the Blackett Laboratory when I was there 1989-92. Pretty cool to have a Nobel Prize winner in the department (there might be a fourth if Tom Kibble gets a bit of the Higgs one.)

    The sooner we come to terms with the fact that Pakistan is not an ally, but the principal enemy nation, the better.

  • Gordon Walker

    On a lghter note there is the francophobe personal hygiene libel; “La république n’a pas besoin de savon.”

  • Paul Marks

    Natalie – agreed.

  • John K

    Can anyone argue that the whole concept of Pakistan wasn’t a mistake?

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    John K- why should the Indians be saddled with such a vexacious state? Wouldn’t it’s own troubles then be even worse?

  • John K

    It would have surely been better if there had never been such a sectarian state in the first place. Muslims were to be found across the Indian Empire, there was no need to create an artificial Muslim state.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Except, John, that the Muslims had enough numbers to want a state of their own. As a Libertarian, I tend to favour secessionist movements. Also, muslim ideology decrees that muslims should not be subjects of any other religion- so they would always campaign for a separate state, anyway.

  • John K

    I think we might be saying that Islam is the problem. Nothing new there.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    You can’t go round making true statements like that! You need to qualify it with lots of maybe, and it-seems-like, and I-don’t-want-to-sound-negative. Somewhere, a hate-crimes commisar is rubbing his/her/its hands together in glee over those comments.

  • John K

    On reflection you are right, I hereby repudiate my previous comment and embrace diversity with enthusiasm.