salam

Pakistan: Science and Research

Pakistan’s contributions to science are embarrassingly few compared to countries like, say, Japan or Germany or even Korea. However, recently I found out that our scientific research infrastructure isn’t as horrible as I expected. In other words: believe it or not, we have actually done something as a nation other than producing nukes and terrorists. In fact, unless Mian Sahab and the other idiots in the PMLN end up politicizing, corrupting and/or decreasing the funding of the few educational organisations and research institutes we have, I think Pakistan might actually produce a few Nobel laureates in the next few decades.

Why do I say these things? Well, I’ve found some things I didn’t know about earlier.

National Center for Physics

Chairman PAEC with DG CERN

Yes, incredible as it might seem, we actually have a National Center for Physics; and yes, they actually do something besides hogging the tax-payer money. There’s also a Joint CERN-Pakistan Committee. In addition, if the Tinday Baradraan don’t mess things up as I said earlier, Pakistan might even become an associate-member of CERN soon (see here and here), not to mention the 42 Pakistani physicists working at CERN.

Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission

paec

Yes, the same highly-classified department that created and maintains the nukes. The very same war-mongering, budget-draining, international-reputation-ruining, sanction-inducing, economy-ruining, inflation-causing monster all us Pakistani leftists love to despise. People will hate me for saying this but I think it actually gave a (very) slight amount of benefit to the country. No, I’m not trying to give excuses for all the problems it has caused. I know the incredibly high amount of money the government wastes on the PAEC can be used for health, education, homeland security, development and poverty alleviation.

Love it or hate it, however, one can’t deny the PAEC’s role in the scientific and technological advancement of the country, Besides, compared to all the other unnecessary stuff done with the defence budget, I think this might actually be seen as productive. At least it helps generate a bit of electricity via nuclear power stations. Not to mention its research contributions and collaboration with CERN.

The Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH), which is part of PAEC’s domain, is the most advanced research institute in the country. It has three nuclear reactors and a particle accelerator (yes, they actually have a particle accelerator!).  I couldn’t find any picture of PINSTECH online, probably because of all the ‘top-secret highly-classified’ aura that surrounds it.

Jinnah Antarctic Station

jinnah_antarctic

It turns out Pakistan is one of the few countries that has a research station in Antarctica, and the majority of us Pakistanis don’t even know about it. Pakistan is also an associate member of Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR).

Space & Upper Atmosphere Research Commission

Badr-1_satellite

To be frank, SUPARCO hasn’t really done much since its establishment in 1961, except for launching a few satellites (Badr-1Badr-2 and PakSat-1) and create a satellite ground-station. This is mainly due to the embarrassingly low budget it gets (a miserly $75.1 million, only about 0.004% of NASA’s prodigious $18.724 billion). But hey, we have a space program! that’s still something, right? And it might even do something significant in the future if the government decides to spend some money on actual scientific research instead of topping up the nuclear arsenal.

On a side note…

Abdus Salam

AbdusSalam_m_0730

All of the organisations I listed were directly or indirectly established by this legendary man. He was the first chairman of SUPARCO in 1961 and envisioned a great future for the program. Truly a great Pakistani.

Eating Grass: The Making of the Pakistani Bomb

eating_grassThis new book written by Brigadier General (retd.) Feroz Khan gives a complete account of Pakistan’s journey to becoming a nuclear power. The title alludes to Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s famous quote:

we will eat grasseven go hungry, but we will get one of our own (atomic bomb).

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High-School Physics And A Fourth Dimension

Haven’t written new stuff for quite some time, have I? I usually make it a rule to write at least one post every week. But this time my schedule was disrupted by the SAT reasoning test, a mild cold and general laziness. As usual, I have no idea what I should write about. So, I guess I’ll just pen my thoughts and see how things get along.

Why Do Schools Hate Teaching Modern Physics?

Most high-schools tend to avoid teaching post-19th century physics. In fact, even some universities religiously follow this limitation and are actually proud of it. I read recently that when the renowned Pakistani Nobel Laureate, Dr. Abdus Salam, joined the Government College University in Lahore after completing his Masters from Cambridge, he was discouraged and even condemned by some of his colleagues for teaching students modern particle and quantum physics instead of the age-old classical ideas.

Of course, to be precise, some examination systems such as the Cambridge International A Levels™ and the SAT™ Subject Tests do include some comparatively modern ideas, but even they only give you a sort of an introduction, barely touching the most fundamental concepts and not discussing the various derivations and postulations at all.

Living in a Four Dimensional World

Can humans even begin to imagine a world with more than three dimensions? Of course it is easy to imagine a world with less than three-dimensions, because we have seen a lot of objects that seem to be two-dimensional because of their negligible thickness. In fact, we make two-dimensional drawings and graphs everyday. The blog-post you are reading right now is more-or-less two-dimensional. It’s a bit more difficult to imagine a one-dimensional world but it is still possible.

But if one tries to imagine more than three dimensions, it gets a little difficult. How can one visualize something neither seen nor experienced by him before? It’s like telling a blind person to play eye-spy. I was watching Carl Sagan’s television show from the 1980s, called Cosmos. In one of the episodes, he discusses how we might be able to imagine a four-dimensional world by looking at it’s three-dimensional imprint. Similar to how the two-dimensional imprint of a cube can be drawn on paper.