Underpinning all the other branches of science, physics affects the way we live our lives, and ultimately how life itself functions. Recent scientific advances have led to dramatic reassessment of our understanding of the world around us, and made a significant impact on our lifestyle. In this book, leading international experts, including Nobel prize winners, explore the frontiers of modern physics, from the particles inside an atom to the stars that make up a galaxy, from nano-engineering and brain research to high-speed data networks. Revealing how physics plays a vital role in what we see around us, this book will fascinate scientists of all disciplines, and anyone wanting to know more about the world of physics today.
.... biographies, archives and arrogance
Archives are the raw material for biographers to mine and refine. So, as a biographer who was not allowed to do this, I have a grudge.
Abdus Salam (1926-1996) shared the Nobel Physics Prize in 1979 and is Pakistan's only Nobel laureate. However as a member of the Ahmadi sect, he was excommunicated in his home country and his many achievements are scorned and derided there. His tombstone has even been daubed and defaced.
Spurned by his nation, Salam became instead a scientist for the world, founding the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy, to foster science in the developing world. So much for the blurb. What about the archives?
To help future biographers, Salam's papers were carefully catalogued by the British National Cataloguing Unit for the Archives of Contemporary Scientists. 10,000 items in 350 boxes were transferred to ICTP.
However when I was writing Cosmic Anger - Abdus Salam, the First Muslim Nobel Scientist (Oxford University Press, 2008, Kindle and paperback 2012), the ICTP Director at the time blocked access to these archives. Apart from arrogance, no clear reason emerged. Nevertheless, with the help of the carefully-compiled archive catalogue, the triumph and tragedy of Salam's life still managed to fill a book, which includes my grouch up front, in full.