On perplexing Richard Dawkins and a Southfields connection.

Sometimes when I read a newspaper or magazine article something jumps out as the kind of thing likely to upset the famous professor at breakfast time. On Sunday I encountered just such an item in the Observer; an interview with Tom Kibble, whose pioneering work in physics helped pave the way for the notion of the Higgs boson. Kibble remarked that although he had a host of problems with the orthodox concepts of God he did believe in a deity and had little patience with the alternative dogmas of materialist atheists- irrespective of this the article is worth reading because of the laconic charm and modesty of the interviewee!

Looking up Tom Kibble I discovered a delightful irony in the wake of Richard Dawkins’ recent twitter spat over the tiny number of Muslims who had ever won a Nobel Prize. Kibble studied with Abdus Salam, who was indeed a Muslim who did receive that honour; plus over 20 other prizes including the prestigious Copley medal- the oldest prize for science and awarded by the Royal Society. An aside; although I have not done the math, women seem to be rather under represented in the Nobel award category too.

Salam, by all accounts, was one of the most influential physicists of the C20th. And the Southfields connection? He was a member of the Ahmadiya sect, which is well known locally on account of the South London Mosque.

Fortunately those who dislike religion can always comfort themselves with the notion that Abdus Salam passed on a dodgy meme to Kibble or with the assurance that the former was an unusual kind of Muslim!

 

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