Oral History Transcript — Dr. Gordon Feldman
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Gordon Feldman; November 16, 2000
ABSTRACT: The interview focus on Salam as a politician of science. It tries to establish how much Salam transmitted to his collaborators about his political agenda. Salamís activism pursuing the Nobel Prize; Feldmanís view and collaboration with Matthews and Salam at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste and at Imperial College; significant works that came out of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics between 1964 and 1980.
De Greiff:I had the opportunity to listen to your interview with Andre Pickering twelve years ago.
Feldman:Quite a long time ago.
De Greiff:So I more or less heard about what you were doing in physics. I will try to concentrate this interview on more your relationship with Professor Salam, Imperial College, and the ICTP. If you would help me and give me some basic information: your date and place of birth.
Feldman:You want all of that?
De Greiff:Yes. Just give me a context.
Feldman:I was born in Canada in 1928.
De Greiff:And again, I am just going to ask a couple of questions about this, then Iím going to ???. Can you tell me a bit about the decision or the circumstances to become a physicist or a theoretical physicist?
Feldman:That is very hard to say. I was a student at the University of Toronto. One of my professors was Leopold Infeld. I do not know if you have heard of him.
De Greiff:Of course.
Feldman:And he in some sense inspired me in his lectures. And I always enjoyed mathematics. So basically, that was it, I guess. I certainly wanted to become a theoretical physicist. I had no ability to become an experimental physicist. I enjoyed physics, but I knew I could not do any experiments.
De Greiff:I have to say that Pickeringís tapes are in terrible condition, so it is very hard to listen to them. But I remember it was 1946 through 1951 that you stayed at Toronto or is thatÖ?
Feldman:That is right. Yes. Forty-six through 1951. Yes. That is correct.
De Greiff:And then you went to Birmingham, is that right?
Feldman:The University of Birmingham, yes. That is where I got my Ph.D.
De Greiff:I am just trying to check some things that I recall from that. I took some notes from that interview. So your formal supervisor was Peierls?
De Greiff:But you worked with Paul Matthews, is that right?
Feldman:That is right.
De Greiff:Okay; a couple of questions about that period. That was 1951 to 1955?
Feldman:Yes, yes. That is right.
De Greiff:And is that the time when the name Abdul Salam came across to you?
Feldman:That is where I met him. He and Matthews were collaborating. Well, Matthews did not arrive at Birmingham until 1952. And I think that probably sometime, 1952-1953 Salam must have come to Birmingham to visit and spent some time to collaborate with Paul Matthews. That is when I met him. I am not sure. You must know better than I. When exactly did Salam return to Cambridge?
De Greiff:Yes, early 1954.
Feldman:I see. I thought — well maybe I had my dates wrong. I thought I met him in 1952-1953, but it may have been the following year, I guess.
De Greiff:Yes. I think he was, in 1952-1953, he was in Pakistan.
De Greiff:But he had spent some time in Birmingham.
Feldman:He came for a couple of weeks every so often. That is when he and Paul Matthews were doing various work.
De Greiff:Before some more specific questions about Salam. Of course, Paul Matthews is another very important figure in my story because of his early involvement with Salam in renormalization and with students also. Can you help a little bit to describe Matthews?
Feldman:Fantastic man. He and I collaborated for many, many years. He was a great teacher. I learned a lot from him while I was still a graduate student at Birmingham. It was he who basically suggested my thesis topic and from then on, we always collaborated together at every opportunity we could get. Together we were [inaudible]. After I left Birmingham, I spent every third year either on leave or sabbatical at Imperial College where he was. Of course, Salam was there too. And that happened for over a decade and then most summers I would go to Imperial College too.
De Greiff:Yes, thatís what I was just checking.
Feldman:So, in fact, I think he was a great loss when he had his accident. He was a great guy, a great friend, a great collaborator. A great loss for me.
De Greiff:I want to ask you more about that, but let me start with Salam, just as [inaudible]. How was the evolution of your perception about Salam? I mean one has this first encounter and then discovering other facets of the same person, and I guess other aspects of his personality. What would you say from 1954 to — Maybe letís talk before 1980.
De Greiff:My story goes up to the Nobel Prize. So that period is the period I am more interested in. So what did you discover from 1954 on? How had he changed?
Feldman:How it changed from 1954?
De Greiff:Yes. Your perception of —
Feldman:Well to me, he never really changed. I remember him as being fun to be around. It was his humor and his zest for life. I found that that never really changed. And he was always full of ideas, physics ideas. A lot of them were not right, but nevertheless he was just bubbling over with ideas. And I think that was the whole time, I did not notice any difference.
De Greiff:What about his involvement in politics and science? Did he know in, letís say 1958, that was he was already starting his political career?
Feldman:Yes. Well, when he became advisor to the Pakistani, to the Atomic Energy Commission in Pakistan, I certainly knew about that and he would talk about it.
De Greiff:What do you remember that he said; that he used to say about his involvement in Pakistan?
Feldman:Not really that much, I guess. I mean, mostly he would discuss the humorous part of whatever it was he was involved in. I thought I was a good friend of his and he could open up about stories that he would not normally talk about. So, the strictly political aspect, I could not — I do not know that much about it. I mean, I would know some of the facts, that he was the advisor to the Atomic Energy Commission. I even remember him telling me about visits he had to Washington. I cannot remember the exact period but obviously during the period, he visited a number of times. I guess he did come to Washington; he would phone me occasionally or sometimes in New York. I think I saw him in New York once when I was there. But he would just say where he was. He would tell me about once when he visited Washington one time, I guess that was in an official capacity, he was put up at Blair House, which is across from the White House. When he arrived off of the plane or whatever, his suitcase was in its usual form, mainly wrapped, a rope wrapped holding it together. And I think some of the Pakistani officials were worried about that and they tried to sneak his suitcase into Blair House so nobody would see it. But those were the kinds of stories I knew about Salam.
De Greiff:So he didnít discuss the politics? Perhaps with other colleaguesÖ.
Feldman:Well, I do not know as far as anybody else, but he did not say that much to me. Probably he was closer, I think, to Paul Matthews. Maybe he told Paul Matthews. But as I say, I heard many of the humorous things.
De Greiff:Itís very interesting what you say about that he was full of ideas, and with that I turn back to Matthews. Is it fair to say that Salam provided a lot of ideas, and to some extent Matthews filtered the good ones and the bad ones? This is what John Polkinghorne has to say.
Feldman:Well initially, I guess, Paul Matthews was, in a sense, his supervisor perhaps. In the first year I think Paul got his degree under Kemmer before Salam. And Paul probably suggested to Abdus, the topic that he wrote his thesis on, Overlapping Divergences. But that work, I believe, I didnít know either of them then, Salam certainly did on his own. I mean, I think Paul just provided the first idea. But later on in their work, and I know this also from experience, that as I say, Salam would have hundreds of ideas, and in a sense, Paul Matthews was a filter. And I know from my own experience, the same thing was true with me. In Imperial College usually Paul and I shared an office together, and Salam tended to be next door. And he would come in frequently with some new idea, and normally I was very negativeÖ
De Greiff:About the idea?
Feldman:Ö about the idea. Yes. I would find reasons why it could not work. And his reaction to this — I mentioned this in the talk I gave at Trieste I think. He called me a pisser because he said every time he came in I would piss on his ideas. But the point is I think that many of his ideas were not viable or whatever. But there were the 2 or 5% percent that were really great. But I think he needed a filter and Paul was, with him, much more than I was as I say. I was only there every third year for a decade or so and in the summer. But it was great fun.
De Greiff:What was his publishing policy? If one produces so many ideas, one has to decide which ones are going to be published and which ones are not.
Feldman:Well again, at the beginning — and by beginning I mean the period that I am familiar with — his collaborator was mostly Paul Matthews. And so, I guess Paul being a filter, they would not publish every one of his ideas, but they obviously talked about many, many ideas. His policy was of course to try to publish what they thought was a really good idea.
De Greiff:As many as he could.
Feldman:Yes, as many as he could.
De Greiff:Do you think his 1957-1958 period with the CP violation with his exchange with Pauli and the fact that he never published that paper.
Feldman:You mean a parity violation.
De Greiff:Iím sorry, parity violation, yes. Do you think that episode might have made him think that he should have published that one and maybe he would have been able to publish more without so much (???)?
Feldman:Well, I do not know. That episode, I do not think I was around at the time, so I do not know firsthand what prompted him. He sent out a preprint, I guess.
Feldman:I think probably — I guess maybe Paul, I think some people, I was not involved. I did not say it. I had no input into that idea. I do not whether it was Paul Matthews. Paul probably supported it. But he may have, there must have been people who did not think it was such a good idea, perhaps. I cannot really comment that much on that episode.
De Greiff:Yes. Well, what I was trying to figure out is if that —
Feldman:He was probably sorry later he hadnít published.
De Greiff:Yes exactly.
Feldman:Yes. I think so. Yes. But there was a preprint. I mean, even Gell-Mannís famous work on the eight fold way appeared mostly as a preprint rather than something that was published. I mean, Salamís preprint was known to the world, to the physics world at that time.
De Greiff:I think Iíll try to return to this later. But did he discuss his interest and his possibilities about a Nobel Prize at some point with his colleagues?
Feldman:Oh, yes. He was always interested in the Nobel Prize.
De Greiff:Iíve heard the word obsessed from some of his colleagues.
De Greiff:Iím not trying to pull any words from you. Iím just trying to —
Feldman:Well, it was a goal. I mean, he felt it was something he could do. I think obsess maybe is a bit strong, but the fact is that most physicists probably if they work in high energy theory, everybody probably has the little idea that, ďMaybe, maybe Iím going to get the Nobel Prize for that piece of work. I havenít done it yet, but soon I might be doing it and maybe I might get the Nobel Prize.Ē
De Greiff:Did he think that it was for a particular work that he had done or for something that he was about to do?
Feldman:No. It depends on the period.
Feldman:I mean, obviously early in the period, his thesis was well known; his work on overlapping Divergences and field theory. I do not think he was ever expected to get a Nobel Prize for that. And in fact, just a few years after that there was a paper by John Ward which made it more accessible to the average person. Salamís paper was very difficult. But thatís beside the point. The work would not have received a Nobel Prize regardless. But later on, as he started to do things, again, I could not read his mind whether the business with the parity violation may have been his first, maybe the beginning of anybody on the track of many things. I cannot say very much about that. But I think that was certainly a goal for him to do work that would get him a Nobel Prize.
De Greiff:Well, not many people can aspire to get the Nobel Prize.
Feldman:Oh, we can all aspire to it. But, I mean, deep down, most of us know we are not good enough.
De Greiff:Maybe Iím thinking about third-world physicists. [chuckles]
Feldman:I see. Well, it depends on the field you are in. That is, I mean, there are some fields in physics which almost never get awarded a Nobel Prize nowadays. There is still nuclear physics which differs from high energy particle physics which is still an ongoing field. There is a lot of work done in it but I cannot believe that any nuclear physicist working today thinks that something he is doing will eventually turn up a Nobel Prize.
De Greiff:That is very interesting because I had found, I donít know if I am quoting it correctly, but he [Salam] thought that the 1960s was a particularly prolific period in particle physics. Anyone, he used to say in his writings, practically anyone with a good idea could make a very important contribution.
De Greiff:And that was precisely why maybe Third-World physicists could also contribute to particle physics.
Feldman:Yes. That is true. That was a period when we didnít have a theory, a real theory. We did not have something like the standard model which we have today. And we all had these crazy, weird ideas. I mean, Salam was not the only one with crazy ideas. But it was, yes, it was open-season. And sometimes in a way of too much knowledge could be a dangerous thing at that time. If you knew too much, that was my problem sometimes, that I probably knew something about a subject, I could always find something wrong with a new idea. If you do not have, if you know a little bit less, you come out with a crazy idea; then you maybe do not know it is crazy. But if you pursue it, you may eventually find something. So, it is true that there is this very (???)
De Greiff:Are you to some extent describing the way in which Salam worked when you were saying, well, sometimes you seem to think about a good idea and try to develop it and see where it comes from.
Feldman:Yes. Well, there are people like Salam who have great knowledge but they also have these ideas which, when you first throw out an idea, it does not come out completely developed. And there may be so many things that someone with more knowledge would see what is wrong with it. And that person might say, ďItís not worth pursuing because I can see all these things that are wrong with it.Ē Salam was different. He kept trying to find ways to perfect the idea, even though it was wrong to some people.
De Greiff:Do you think he tried to translate that message to his students of producing a lot of ideas on paper or whatever ideas come to your mind?
Feldman:I do not know. You ought to talk to some of his students. I know he, as I say, he used to come into our office at Imperial College frequently with an idea. And something may have gotten him excited that day or that hour and he wanted to tell somebody about it. And so, he would come in and talk about it. Whether with his students, I do not know. I really do not know how he actuallyÖwhat he told them, what he said about having crazy ideas or not having crazy ideas.
De Greiff:I know you were not a student of Salamís. But is it possible to make a comparison between Salam and Matthews as supervisors, from what you experienced at Imperial and the ICTP?
Feldman:Yes. They were different. Different approaches. But often the student would be a student of both of them simultaneously.
De Greiff:Yes. Most of them were.
Feldman:And who precisely was the — I mean, I think they probably all felt they could go to either one and talk about their problem. They made a very good pair and so, it is hard to say. I mean, they had different, they were different people and had different approaches but again, I am not— And I did see Paul Matthews often in action with his students but, like I say, I shared an office and students would come in and ask questions. But no, they were supportive of students, I guess both of them were. Certainly Paul Matthews was. Everybody has his own approach to how you treat a student, or push them along, or encourage them or discourage them, whatever.
De Greiff:I found something that I want to show you which relates to what you are doing [inaudible]. Itís related to the 1960 Miramare Castle symposium. 
De Greiff:You might remember [inaudible].
Feldman:Yes. Oh, yes. Yes. I remember this. This is still a big memory for me.
De Greiff:There is an interesting — there are a couple of questions I want to make about this symposium. One is generally [inaudible]. But before this particular article, what was the motivation for writing a note for Physics Today? Now, reading this article, it is very interesting that the emphasis seems to be on the very good conditions Trieste offered. Although, this is previous to anything before any idea — no idea, nothing.
Feldman:This was probably the beginning of the idea to do something. Perhaps — and not necessarily at Trieste, but it was Clementel and Villi who were — And Budini was there.
Feldman:Who organized that particular workshop, or whatever it was called. And I guess Salam was very delighted by this, and he began to think about an institute or something like that then. It wasnít necessarily in Trieste. That came later -Ė (the idea that) some country had to provide the land and so on. So the fact that Trieste eventually became the home of the Institute is perhaps accidental to the fact that thisÖ
De Greiff:But usually, I mean, is it that usual that if you come to a conference, you then — if you were not an organizer of that conference, you write to Physics Today saying that it was a very interesting conference. Because there seems to be an agenda behind this, either in Salamís or maybe the Italians who wanted —
Feldman:I am not sure. It is probably maybe both. It is possible that Budini and Villi maybe thought it would be nice to get a bit of publicity for it and they may have, you know, said something to Salam. I do not remember that. But that could be true. Just write something about —
De Greiff:This is, I want to tell you why Iím insisting on that because I will find a similar pattern later in the ICTP. Salam and other collaborators writing about how important and how interesting it was spending some time at ICTP. And itís very interesting that Salam was very skillful even in sending notes anonymously to some of these journals talking about the ICTP as a very good institute. So this is remarkable because, again, this is 1960. So, there seems to be that —
Feldman:Well, that part I do not remember why we wrote the idea, or why we wrote this thing. I think we were so pleased with that conference, we had a good time, we learned a lot of physics and we met a lot of people. We enjoyed it. All the participants enjoyed that conference. And —
De Greiff:What do you remember, during these years 1962, 1963, especially those years, not specifically those years, but what did you know about the negotiations Vienna?  Did Salam tell you anything?
Feldman:Yes, a few things. He talked about it but, you know, it is something that I guess I was not that interested in and I cannot really remember.
De Greiff:Do you remember if he mentioned that there was great hostility from the United Kingdom and the United States to set up the center? Or he was reserved about — Would you say that? He was reserved about —
Feldman:No. I do not think so. I think he was open to me and Paul but my memory of that, I cannot tell you. You know, he would tell us things that I think he probably did not tell other people. But I cannot tell you what they are; I cannot remember them. We used to have lunch often and we would talk. We did not spend our time talking about physics all the time.
De Greiff:No, of course. But his political agenda was almost as important as his physics?
Feldman:Yes. Probably beginning about that time, he was searching the, yes. There is no question that he was pursuing that. He felt it was a great idea. No, he certainly had this idea about Third-World countries should be able to participate in fundamental physics. The idea of an institute. When precisely he had that idea, I do not know. You probably know more from the people youíve interviewed. Is it possible, maybe this particular time when we went to Miramare was the beginning of it. I donít know.
De Greiff:This would seem to be the origin. The summer of 1960 is my guess.
Feldman:Well, because I think the date and all this, I mean, month and time is very broad. Vaguely I remember during this institute, possibly when Salam and maybe I and Budini and others were just — Salam was probably excited. He thought it was a great conference, that we should have more of them, more frequently, something like that. You know, he may have mentioned it at that time.
De Greiff:Moving to the Center for a moment, do you recall what was the reception of the creation of the Center in this country among your colleagues?
Feldman:Well, I know the Center became much more recognized in the world when Salam, Strathdee and Delbourgo did their work on what they called u (12) and that part of the physics. That burst on the scene like, and I have forgotten the year. You will know what year that happened.
De Greiff:I think 1966.
Feldman:1966. And so, you know, that, everybody throughout the world thought it was great. And that, I think, put the Institute on the map as far as the world was concerned.
De Greiff:Itís very interesting because to some extent itís not the Institute, itís the Imperial College. I mean, the three of them were actually very close.
Feldman:Yes. But it was also at the Institute. Yes. But there was a conference about that time at the Institute. That conference I remember being at, just after the u (12) time. Again, you will have to tell what the year is, but there was, yes, I guess there was a conference. Now whether — was that when it was still at Piazza Oberdon or not?
Feldman:It was. Okay. So it must have been at that conference that I am talking about. I remember that it was well attended. A lot of important physicists were there. And I guess it was after, it must have been six months or a year after the work of Salam, Strathdee and Delbourgo.
De Greiff:The perception of — I mean, apart from Salamís work in Salamís group, what other things represented the ICTP in terms of physics?
Feldman:At that time?
De Greiff:The 1960s, the 1970s. Is it possible to recognize something else apart from Salam in terms of physics?
Feldman:I remember summers there. The fact that there were a lot of Third-World physicists at the Institute was very noticeable and the fact that Salam was promoting these people and their work. You know, all of that was there. Again, when I spent a summer at the Institute, frequently, almost all the time Paul Matthews was there too, and we would generally continue our collaboration, whatever we were doing, at the Institute. And whenever I was at Trieste, my connection to Salam was much less than it was at Imperial College. I mean, he was busy doing whatever all his other things and he was interested in different problems than Paul and I were. I saw him less. We had lunch together, not as often as we used to, but occasionally. So when I was at the Institute, as I say, most of the time I was there with Paul Matthews and we were collaborating.
De Greiff:Were you collaborating exclusively with Paul Matthews during these visits to the Center? Or did you work with someone else?
Feldman:At the Center? No.
De Greiff:Yes, at the Center.
Feldman:No. No. At the Center, well, one summer I was there and Paul Matthews was not there, and I was working on my own. I was not collaborating with anybody. And then the other summers, I think it was always Paul and I.
De Greiff:And how did you sign your papers; as Johns Hopkins and Imperial College or ICTP pre-prints? Do you remember if there was any discussion about that?
Feldman:Well, usually it would be my name, Johns Hopkins and Paul Matthews and Imperial College. And probably an acknowledgment to the Institute for the hospitality and so on. And probably I would acknowledge the hospitality also of Imperial College, something like that. I cannot remember. I can look up my papers and see what it is. There was never, we never considered ourselves members of the Institute, so we were notÖ.our papers were not our names from Trieste. It was always our home places but with acknowledgments to Trieste.
De Greiff:Even at the level of pre-prints, if you decide you want to publish something, if there was some — ICTP was providing a lot of pre-prints during this period.
Feldman:It is probable all of the preprints, that is, our work was always a work in progress and it probably, when we decided to publish, I was here or Paul at Imperial College, or we were both at Imperial College. And the preprints were probably sent out from here or Imperial College. My memory may be bad. I do not — That is how it probably happened.
De Greiff:You thought it was an issue, and it may [inaudible] an issue.
Feldman:Maybe there are preprints from ICTP that have our names on it. I do not know. I am not, I cannot remember any but there could be.
De Greiff:Who were Salamís closest friends during this period? Again, I think I have to put this in perimeters. It has been very hard to find who was close to Salam during this period. He had a lot of collaborators and people around him, but people who were his friends apart from you and Paul Matthews.
Feldman:I would have thought that Paul Matthews was his closest friend but there is a world out there that he was in that I probably knew very little of. I mean the political world of Pakistan and similarly, he may have had other very close friends like Paul elsewhere. I do not know. But Paul felt very, both Paul and I felt that Salam could open up and tell us his innermost thoughts that maybe he did not tell other people, but I do not know. If you told me that Mr. X says that he was Salamís closest friend, then that to me is also possible.
De Greiff:Ayub Klan. (laughs)
Feldman:During this period. Certainly Paul was much closer to Abdus than I was. But I felt that I was pretty close to him too in this period.
De Greiff:Another difficult question about Salam and politics. Where did you place him in the political spectrum? It is difficult because he was trying to help his third-world fellows and at the same time working for a right wing, well, a dictator in Pakistan for many years.
Feldman:Well, I think he could compromise. If he felt that working with who, the Ayub Khan?
De Greiff:Ayub Khan. Yes.
Feldman:That he might be able to succeed in doing something for the Third-World. I think his politics were not that kind of politics. I think he was a fairly liberal person in his political views. Now, I do not know. What was his citizenship? Pakistani?
De Greiff:Pakistani all the time.
Feldman:All the time.
De Greiff:He never, even in the toughest years, he always kept his citizenship.
Feldman:Because I was going to ask, he did not vote in England then. If he had voted in England, he would have voted Labor.
De Greiff:Thatís interesting.
Feldman:I do not know. I think politics as such in terms of what political party you supported, that was not that important. He had his goals and I think he was, whatever means that he could —
De Greiff:How would you define his political goals?
Feldman:He did not have political goals. He had the goals of the Institute.
De Greiff:In the widest sense of the word, what were his goals?
Feldman:I think his goal was to open up the world of, certainly physics if not science, to everybody in the world, not just the Western world. I think that was something which was certainly very important to him. Somehow, maybe he felt he owed it because here he was from a Third-World country, and he made it, and he contributed. He found no reason why other people in the same situation could not do the same thing. I think that was a principle goal. That was his politics, if you like.
De Greiff:Yes. Not referring to politics [inaudible] as part of his [inaudible]. His condition as an Ahmadiyyah, his belonging to a heterodox sect of Islam, did he talk about this, or do you think this was an important — Certainly, it was in important element in his life.
Feldman:I think he said maybe once he was upset about the way that his sect, his treatment because of that, you know. He was, I think, very religious. And I think his father was a big influence on him.
De Greiff:Do you remember more or less when he was so upset?
Feldman:Well, again you must tell me. When in Pakistan there was something in which his sect was forbidden?
De Greiff:Yes. 1974.
Feldman:In 1974. Yes. So, yes, I think that disturbed him. However, I was not close enough to him. As I said, we were very good friends but I think that was too close to him. He didnít want to discuss it. His feeling, I mean, he did not say anything against the Pakistani government. I think he was upset about it. But he did not show it to me. I think Salam was a fantastic politician, not in the sense of being in a party. He could charm almost anybody from whatever side. And I will bet you find this that on either side of any political spectrum, he could be friends with everyone if he wanted to if it was certainly necessary for his goals, so to speak. If the Institute was foremost in his mind, then he would do what he could to help that out. Like I say, he could charm people. I remember him once, it must have been at some conference, I donít remember, he was introducing Beradini, a very nice man. And Salam gave him the most wonderful introduction, you know, before Beradini was to speak and Salam introduced him. Just fantastic. And Beradini, when he got up said, ďProfessor Salam, thank you very much for a wonderful introduction. I wish I could believe it.Ē But he was very good.
De Greiff:What consisted of Salamís charisma? What was it that made him so charismatic?
Feldman:He was vivacious. He always had a twinkle in his eye. He would laugh. And I do not think, you know, he probably never would say anything nasty about someone. I would guess everybody you talk to, I cannot believe you would find anybody who disliked Salam.
De Greiff:Well, I havenít been pointed to someone who disliked Salam.
Feldman:Yes. There are probably physicists do not like the way he did some of his physics. I do not know. That you might find. Unfortunately he just died, John Ward, who was a collaborator with Salam too. And I think John Ward often felt that he deserved some part of the Nobel Prize. But Salam was always a great promoter of John Ward and I think there are various prizes, Royal Society prizes and others that John Ward got, and that was through Salamís influence. So you know, John Ward thought he did so much that maybe he deserved a part of a Nobel Prize. He was a very different person, John Ward, if you are going to write. He used to be a member of this faculty too.
De Greiff:What about the influence that his political facet would have played in the perception of other people? I mean that he was very active politically while pursuing the idea of a Center and in turn being a physicist. Was there any hesitation or reservation about Salam that he was more a politician than a physicist?
Feldman:Well, I guess they were intertwined. I mean, he was interested in the Nobel Prize. And when he started and he did work which was obviously, potentially Nobel Prize work, then he probably became more active pursuing the Prize. Many people —
De Greiff:What do you mean by being more active?
Feldman:Well, he did invite members of the Nobel committee to Trieste for periods. And, you know, wined and dined them, I guess. But they were physicists. Something was available to him and he did it. That should not have any influence on whether you get a Nobel Prize or not, but it is nice.
De Greiff:One of the interesting things that I found [inaudible]. There are a number of letters by Salam asking recognition for what he had done.
Feldman:You mean letters from him?
De Greiff:Yes, urging his colleagues to recognize his work [inaudible]. [Inaudible] Is that common in physics to spend a part of your time [inaudible] and then trying to [inaudible]?
Feldman:It depends on the person. It depends on the person. Yes. Some people feel that their work is very important and has not been recognized and they will write letters. Often, Physicist X writes a paper on some subject and he does not refer to Physicist Y who has written something similar or related to it. Physicist Y may very well write a letter to Physicist X and say, ďI am sending you a copy of my paper. I think it has relevance. And even further, I think you should have referred to it.Ē Yes. That happens. That happens frequently. I personally do not like doing anything like that but it depends on someoneís personality.
De Greiff:Well, in particular, the Pati-Salam model. They considered it was marginalized by most of the scientific community in the U.S. for years, and afterwards.
Feldman:Oh, yes. I know. I assume you interviewed Pati at the University of Maryland. Have you interviewed him?
De Greiff:I briefly interviewed him.
Feldman:Yes. I think they thought that their model was a very good one. And again, it was an idea, and it might have been right; it might not have been right.
De Greiff:But anyway, he [inaudible].
Feldman:But I think he pushed his ideas. He wrote letters, I can believe. He never wrote me such a letter.
De Greiff:Did Salam ever talk about his relationship between physics and religion, Islam?
Feldman:Not to me. No.
De Greiff:Do you think the Center is, or your experience with what you have heard from other individuals, that the Center was recognized as a first rate physics center or rather as a center for the third-world scientists?
Feldman:Well, a mixture of both. I think, you know, probably as a physics center it may not be considered the top in the world. But you know, it is called very good. But also obviously — I mean, it has changed, I think.
De Greiff:It has.
Feldman:As I say, the business with that work of Salam, Strathdee, and Delbourgo put it on the map, I think. And people from then on, people thought more highly of the Center. And I think Salam was part of that. Again, it was his personality that attracted lots of important people to come and visit. And at the same time, the Third-World physicists were there too.
De Greiff:That was you said on u (12)?
Feldman:Yes. The Center was already established for about more than a year or so before that work. Again, you know the history better than I do.
De Greiff:But I didnít have that paper [inaudible]. One final question about the Imperial and Blackett. Did you used to see to Blackett? I mean what was the interaction between Blackett and the group of theoreticians? Was there any?
Feldman:Blackett was, of course, the one who got Salam to come to the Imperial College and setup the theoretical group there. There used to be tea. Tea and coffee in the Imperial physics building. Blackett would show up occasionally and I had virtually no interaction with him. He had tea with him and others occasionally. There was not, as far as I know, nothing that I was aware of, I mean, a big interaction between Blackett and group of theoreticians. Not at the physics level. But there must be at the Departmental level. Blackett was chairman; Salam was one of the professors. There were not many professors. He was the professor of theoretical physics.
Note of the interviewer: I showed Professor Feldman an article published by him and Abdul Salam in Physics Today ("Elementary Particle Interactions", Vol. 13, N. 11, p. 74) on the 1960 Symposium in Trieste.
Note of the interviewer: refers to the negotiations to establish the ICTP. The negotiations took place at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.