Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pakistanis Join Hunt for "God Particle"

Humans have been engaged in the perennial effort to crack the code of the physical world; to figure out what the universe is made of; to know the origins of human and other species; in other words, to get to the very bottom of things. These are existential questions that religions and philosophers have offered answers to. But most scientists remain unconvinced with these answers and continue their hunt for "God Particle".

The most high-profile effort to find "God Particle" is taking place about 300 ft below ground in a tunnel at the French-Swiss border. Buried there is a massive particle accelerator and super collider called LHC (Large Hadron Collider) run by the Swiss lab CERN (European Organization of Nuclear Research), which has two beams of particles racing at nearly the speed of light in opposite directions and the resulting particles produced from collisions are being detected by massive detectors in the hope of experimentally finding the fundamental particle of which everything in the universe is built from: God Particle. The knowledge gained from this multibillion-dollar atom smasher may eventually help scientists treat diseases, improve the Internet, and open doors to travel through extra dimensions, according to the scientists associated with it.

Among the world scientists working at CERN on LHC project is Professor Hafeez Hoorani of Pakistan's Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad. He is one of 27 Pakistani scientists at CERN.CERN is the most highly respected research lab in Switzerland responsible for LHC. He acknowledges that Pakistan government's support for Pakistani scientists' serious involvement at CERN materialized only after 1999, the year former President Musharraf's government assumed power. He also gives credit to Dr. Abdus Salam, Pakistan's only Nobel Laureate, for inspiring him and his colleagues to pursue serious scientific research. Here's what Professor Hoorani says about Pakistan's involvement in LHC and CERN:

When I first came to CERN, I was mainly working on technical things but became increasingly involved in political issues. In 1999, I went back to Pakistan to set up a group working on different aspects of the LHC project. There I had to convince my people and my government to collaborate with CERN, which was rather difficult, since nobody associated science with Switzerland. It is known as a place for tourism, for its watches, and nice places to visit.

However, Pakistan already had an early connection to CERN through the late Abdus Salam, the sole Nobel laureate from Pakistan in science and one of the fathers of the electroweak theory. CERN has been known to the scientific community of Pakistan since 1973 through the discovery of neutral currents which eventually led to the Nobel Prize for Salam. We are contributing much more now because of the students who worked with Salam, who know his theories and CERN, and who are now placed at highly influential positions within the government of Pakistan. They have helped and pushed Pakistan towards a very meaningful scientific collaboration with CERN. People now know that there is an organization called CERN. It took a long time to explain what CERN is about, and I brought many people here to show them, because they did not imagine CERN this way. Many people support us now which gives us hope…”

In addition to the 27 scientists, Pakistan has made material contributions to the tune of $10m. According to a post by Ujmi on WTF, Pakistan signed an agreement with CERN which doubled the Pakistani contribution from one to two million Swiss francs. And with this new agreement Pakistan started construction of the resistive plate chambers required for the CMS muon system. While more recently, a protocol has been signed enhancing Pakistan’s total contribution to the LHC program to $10 million.

CERN is a pan-European effort and all of its member states are European. Pakistan, with all of its contributions to LHC project, is hoping to join the ranks of India, Israel, Japan, Russia, Turkey and United States as an observer state at CERN.

Pakistan has contributed the LHC in numerous ways including some of the following in particular:

1. Detector construction
2. Detector simulation
3. Physics analysis
4. Grid computing
5. Computational software development
6. Manufacturing of mechanical equipment
7. Alignment of the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) tracker using lasers
8. Testing of electronic equipment
9. Barrel Yoke: 35 Ton each feet made in Pakistan
10. Assembly of CF (Carbon Fiber) Fins for the Silicon Tracker’s TOB (Tracker Outer Barrel).
11. 245 of the 300 CMS chambers required were made in Islamabad, of which 226 are already installed at CERN.

The Higgs boson, also known as "God Particle", is a hypothetical massive scalar elementary particle predicted to exist by the Standard Model of particle physics. It is the only Standard Model particle not yet experimentally observed. An experimental observation of it would help to explain how otherwise massless elementary particles cause matter to have mass. More specifically, the Higgs boson would explain the difference between the massless photon and the relatively massive W and Z bosons. Elementary particle masses, and the differences between electromagnetism (caused by the photon) and the weak force (caused by the W and Z bosons), are critical to many aspects of the structure of microscopic (and hence macroscopic) matter; thus, if it exists, the Higgs boson is an integral and pervasive component of the material world.

The Standard Model of particle physics has its limits. It can't explain several big mysteries about the universe that have their roots in the minuscule world of particles and forces. If there's one truly extraordinary concept to emerge from the past century of inquiry, it's that the cosmos we see was once smaller than an atom. This is why particle physicists talk about cosmology and cosmologists talk about particle physics: Our existence, our entire universe, emerged from things that happened at the smallest imaginable scale. The big bang theory tells us that the known universe once had no dimensions at all—no up or down, no left or right, no passage of time, and laws of physics beyond our vision.

There have been many other efforts to build particle accelerators and supercolliders including SLAC (Stanford Linear Accelerator) and Fermi Collider, but none so ambitious and massive as the LHC. It is a commendable effort that will advance human knowledge. However, there is no guarantee that it will help find "God Particle".


CERN Website
CERN and the LHC Program
National Geographic
WTF Website
PAEC Newsletter


The last Pakistani said...

Its a shame the experiment has been delayed several months due to a malfunction.I really want to know how everything we know came to be.


Anas Imtiaz said...

This surely is an extremely informative post and a heartening one too. Being a part of the domain of science and technology, I certainly feel proud of the sort of contribution our country is making in this historic experiment.

Riaz Haq said...

The important thing is to stay involved in leading research and business activities with other more developed nations. Results will surely and eventually come, regardless of whether we live to see them or not. The seeds must be sown NOW.
In spite of the ineptitude of our political leadership and rampant corruption in our nation, Pakistanis seem to find a way to get involved in all kinds of research and science from Antarctica to Switzerland to North Pole. Many have started successful high-tech companies in US that have gone public.

Please read here for more:
Please read: http://www.riazhaq.com/2008/01/pakistan-joins-antarctic-research.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a recent Dawn report of international recognition of Pakistani woman scientist:

KARACHI: Pakistani Scholar Dr. Hina Siddiqui won the best “Oral Presentation Award” in the 11th Eurasia conference on Chemical Sciences. The international conference was held in Jordon from Oct.6 to Oct.10, 2010.

Dr. Siddiqui’s presentation was declared as one of the top three oral presentations in the conference, where a panel of experts decided upon the top three finalists. Another scholar from Peshawar also got prize in the event, where over 200 scientists delivered their presentations from 69 countries.

Eurasia Chemical Sciences conference was launched by three chemists in 1988 to foster network and knowledge sharing among the researchers of North and South.

Dr. Siddiqui is a PhD in organic chemistry and currently working as research officer at International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) at Karachi University.

When she was in school, she read an inspiring interview of Prof. Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman from Hussain Ebrahim Jamal (HEJ) Research Institute of Chemistry, University of Karachi, published in a well-known Urdu science magazine named Amali Science.

In that Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman said institutions are not made up from bricks and stones rather they are made up of people who have dreams and vision.

The sentence changed Siddiqui’s vision and she devoted herself to exploring the unknown. In 2005, she joined HEJ and started her Ph. D under supervision of Prof. Dr. Mohammad Iqbal Choudhary, during her Ph.D Studies she worked on the anti-oxidant properties of various chemical constituents, also she got UBF (Umear Basha Foundation) scholarship and went to University of Kansas for one year to excel in Organic synthesis research.

In the Eurasia conference, a shield and certificate was presented to Siddiqui and the organisers also waived the registration fee of upcoming 12 Eurasia Conference on Chemical Sciences which will be held in Greece in 2012.

Siddiqui told Dawn.com that it is not her prize but it is HEJ award because in HEJ every student gets a world class education and training to excel anywhere in the world.

Siddiqui said that HEJ is a great place to shine, because it is an equal opportunity institute where merit is the only criteria rather than gender discrimination. She urged the females to consider research as their career and vows to continue research and development in the future.

Anonymous said...

Tell me which components has Pakistan made for CERN?

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Tell me which components has Pakistan made for CERN?"

Here's a post on CERN website regarding Pakistan's contribution to various CERN projects:

Co-operation with Pakistan was pioneered by CMS, and has expanded continuously over the past 15 years to include ALICE and ATLAS as well as to the accelerator sector (SPL (Linac4) and CLIC), making Pakistan a significant partner for CERN. For CMS, Pakistan built the Magnet feet, contributed to the Tracker alignment, and built and installed 320 Resistive Plate Chambers (RPC), as well as contributing to CMS computing, the WLCG and data analysis. Pakistan has also built various mechanical components for ATLAS and for the LHC.

Co-operation with the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology Nuclear Engineering Division (PINSTECH) in the area of radioprotection is being organized. Several high-level Pakistani officials have visited CERN, including President Musharraf in January 2006.

Discussions are on-going with Commission on Science and Technology for sustainable development (COMSATS) for the setting up of a version of the CERN physics teachers programme in Islamabad.

Agreements have been signed covering Pakistani contributions to LHC commissioning and Linac4.


MZ said...

Could you please write something about the God Particle from CERN?

Is the Science entering God’s territory now, a job man wanted to do from ages and always failed?

A sub atomic particle 60 Nano seconds faster than Light, turns Einstein in his grave, and makes time travel possible.

Or you will say it just proves that science was always wrong.

Riaz Haq said...

MZ: "Could you please write something about the God Particle from CERN?"

If it's indeed true, then I'm just glad Pakistani scientists at CERN helped find it.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's an AP report on CERN's new find:

GENEVA -- A pillar of physics -- that nothing can go faster than the speed of light -- appears to be smashed by an oddball subatomic particle that has apparently made a giant end run around Albert Einstein's theories.

Scientists at the world's largest physics lab said Thursday they have clocked neutrinos traveling faster than light. That's something that according to Einstein's 1905 special theory of relativity -- the famous E (equals) mc2 equation -- just doesn't happen.

"The feeling that most people have is this can't be right, this can't be real," said James Gillies, a spokesman for the European Organization for Nuclear Research. The organization, known as CERN, hosted part of the experiment, which is unrelated to the massive $10 billion Large Hadron Collider also located at the site.

Gillies told The Associated Press that the readings have so astounded researchers that they are asking others to independently verify the measurements before claiming an actual discovery.

"They are inviting the broader physics community to look at what they've done and really scrutinize it in great detail, and ideally for someone elsewhere in the world to repeat the measurements," he said Thursday.

Scientists at the competing Fermilab in Chicago have promised to start such work immediately.

"It's a shock," said Fermilab head theoretician Stephen Parke, who was not part of the research in Geneva. "It's going to cause us problems,
no doubt about that -- if it's true."

The Chicago team had similar faster-than-light results in 2007, but those came with a giant margin of error that undercut its scientific significance.

Other outside scientists expressed skepticism at CERN's claim that the neutrinos -- one of the strangest well-known particles in physics -- were observed smashing past the cosmic speed barrier of 186,282 miles per second (299,792 kilometers per second).

University of Maryland physics department chairman Drew Baden called it "a flying carpet," something that was too fantastic to be believable.

CERN says a neutrino beam fired from a particle accelerator near Geneva to a lab 454 miles (730 kilometers) away in Italy traveled 60 nanoseconds faster than the speed of light. Scientists calculated the margin of error at just 10 nanoseconds, making the difference statistically significant. But given the enormous implications of the find, they still spent months checking and rechecking their results to make sure there was no flaws in the experiment.

"We have not found any instrumental effect that could explain the result of the measurement," said Antonio Ereditato, a physicist at the University of Bern, Switzerland, who was involved in the experiment known as OPERA.

The researchers are now looking to the United States and Japan to confirm the results.

A similar neutrino experiment at Fermilab near Chicago would be capable of running the tests, said Stavros Katsanevas, the deputy director of France's National Institute for Nuclear and Particle Physics Research. The institute collaborated with Italy's Gran Sasso National Laboratory for the experiment at CERN.

Katsanevas said help could also come from the T2K experiment in Japan, though that is currently on hold after the country's devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Scientists agree if the results are confirmed, that it would force a fundamental rethink of the laws of nature.

Einstein's special relativity theory that says energy equals mass times the speed of light squared underlies "pretty much everything in modern physics," said John Ellis, a theoretical physicist at CERN who was not involved in the experiment. "It has worked perfectly up until now."


Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan is one of six countries invited to join UNSCEAR (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation) as a permanent member. The other 5 Invitees are Belarus, Finland, the Republic of Korea, Spain and Ukraine.

The committee now consists of 26 permanent members, including


Riaz Haq said...

Though the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has made enormous efforts to promote research work, Pakistan ranked 43rd in the world in terms of published scientific papers in the year 2010, according to Dawn newspaper.

According to the worldwide scientific journal ranking (SJR); Pakistan published 6,987 research documents in 2010. However, the same year United States was on top with 502,804 papers followed by China with 320,800 and United Kingdom with 139,683 research documents. On the other hand, India ranked ninth worldwide.

Among the Islamic countries, Pakistan trailed behind Turkey and Iran which published 30,594 and 27,510 research documents, respectively.

An official of the HEC requesting not to be named told this reporter that in 2007 Pakistan ranked 45th with 3,750 publications, in 2003 it was ranked 50th with 1,539 research papers and in 2000 54th with 1,174 papers. In 1996, the country was on 52nd position with 893 research papers.

The number of publications is directly proportional to the production of PhDs in the country.

“Pakistan gets over $10 billion every year through foreign remittances. On the other hand, due to financial crunch demand for foreign labour has been decreasing worldwide. Even in Saudi Arabia it has been decided to push out foreign labour force and adjust the locals in their places, because it is becoming difficult even for the oil-producing countries to address the problem of unemployment.”

The official claimed that in the West, population was decreasing and the new generation was more interested in the subjects of art and humanities rather than science, mathematics and research work.

Due to this, the official added, the demand for specialised persons would increase in the West and Pakistan can meet the requirement of these nations by producing specialised persons and earn huge foreign exchange.

Sources said most of the successive governments in Pakistan did not take future planning seriously and always tried to solve problems by makeshift arrangements. The government should focus on specialisation in different subjects because only specialised persons can earn foreign exchange to steer out the country from the financial problems.

Executive Director HEC Prof Dr S. Sohail H. Naqvi told Dawn that they had been trying to generate as many specialised persons as possible and for that reason were encouraging and facilitating universities. He said for increasing the number of PhDs, the commission required funds. “Hopefully, Pakistan will further improve its ranking regarding publication of
research papers,” he said.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a SciDev report on Pakistan's Human Genome Project undertaken with Chinese collaboration at the University of Karachi:

A burgeoning genetics research collaboration between China and Pakistan has yielded its first result: the mapping of the genome of a Pakistani national.

The Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) and the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), Karachi, had agreed last year to work together on seven genomic projects, train Pakistani scientists, set up a genomics centre in Pakistan, and transfer state-of-the-art technology to Pakistan.

The first project involved sending genetic samples of the first volunteer, former science minister Atta-ur-Rahman, who is also ICCBS patron, to the BGI for mapping.

'Genome mapping' involves locating and identifying genes to create a map, akin to identifying towns and cities, to create a road map. Genome maps help scientists locate genes for human diseases, by tracking the complete genetic information of individuals and, families over generations.

Researchers at the Panjwani Centre for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD), under the ICCBS, and BGI mapped Rahman’s genes in 10 months. ICCBS director Mohammad Iqbal Choudhary announced the results to the media last month (27 June). The results are yet to be published in a scientific journal.

This makes Pakistan the world's sixth and the first Islamic country to completely map a human genetic sequence, Choudhary said.

More projects are underway to gain insights into various population groups in Pakistan; genetic predisposition to disorders, including liver and heart disease; anaemia, diabetes, cancers, Alzheimer's disease and blood disorders, Choudhary told SciDev.Net.

It could lead to "significant advances in their diagnosis and treatment" Kamran Azim, assistant professor at the PCMD, said.

"It is going to take more than two years to complete the genome projects and come up with the final conclusions about different aspects of the country's different population groups," Choudhary said.

BGI scientists are interested in studying the genetic structure and physiology of Pakistan's diverse ethnic groups, particularly those along the Makran coast, Balochistan province, and Kalash Desh in northern Pakistan, Choudhary said.

Manzoor Hussain Soomro, chairman of the Pakistan Science Foundation, observed that the development could pave the way for better medical management and new drugs discovery.

But, he cautioned, such research could also raise ethical, legal and social concerns over confidentiality and misuse of genetic information by prospective employers, insurers, courts of law and family members.

Soomro said that though it is not yet clear who would safeguard the genome mapping data, it should logically be the responsibility of Pakistan's national bioethics committee under the Pakistan Council of Medical Research.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ANI report on gene mapping in Pakistan:

Karachi, June 28(ANI): Scientists at the Karachi University have mapped the genome of the first Pakistani man with the help of the Beijing Genomics Institute.

This has made Pakistan the first country in the Muslim world to map the genome of the first Muslim man.

The achievement places Pakistan in the ranks of the few countries- the United States, the United Kingdom, India, China and Japan- that have successfully sequenced the human genome as well.

"Our nation is a mix of a lot of races," said Professor Dr M Iqbal Choudhary, who heads the project. "Pakistanis are like a "melting pot" i.e. a mix of Mughals, Turks, Pashtuns, Afghans, Arabs, etc."

"According to the researchers, the newly sequenced Pakistani genome has uncovered a multitude of Pakistan-specific sites, which can now be used in the design of large-scale studies that are better suited for the Pakistani population," The Express Tribune quoted Dr Choudhary, who is the director of the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences at Karachi University, as saying.

The first Pakistani genome has been mapped using a recently developed technology, ten years after the first human genome was discovered.

Dr Panjwani Centre for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research at the University of Karachi took 10 months to accomplish the task. The individual who has been genetically mapped is a resident of Karachi. (ANI)


Riaz Haq said...

Details of latest supercomputer at NUST in Pakistan by HPC Wire:

Following India’s announcement of installing that country’s fastest supercomputer, news out of Islamabad reports that Pakistan has just unveiled its speediest super as well.

The system will reside at the Research Center for Modeling and Simulation (RCMS), which was acquired by Pakistan’s National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) through a grant provided by the country’s Ministry of Science and technology. An inauguration event was held where RCMS Principal, Sikandar Hayat noted that the new system is the fastest GPU-based parallel computer in the country.

The system, known as ScREC, is named after the university’s supercomputing research and education center. The cluster consists of 66 nodes equipped with a total of 30,992 cores. The NUST site breaks down the components as follows: 32 dual-socket quad-core nodes, 32 NVIDIA GPUs, a QDR InfiniBand interconnect, and 26.1 TB of storage. Specifics on the CPU or GPU parts were not provided.

While Linpack performance has not been posted, the system runs at a peak of 132 teraflops. Given that most GPU-accelerated TOP500 systems only achieve about a 50 percent Linpack yield of peak performance (depending upon the CPU-GPU ratio and interconnect), the system should deliver at least 60 Linpack teraflops. That would place the system in the current list, giving Pakistan a slot in the TOP500. Unfortunately the rankings are a moving target, and the June update may well exclude sub-60-teraflop machines. The slowest supercomputer on the current TOP500 is at 51 teraflops.

ScREC will be used to assist NUST with research in the areas of computational biology, computational fluid dynamics, image processing, cryptography, medical imaging, geosciences, computational finance, and climate modeling. Specifically, RCMS is currently developing a direct simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) method for subsonic nanoscale gas flows. Other projects include external flow analysis of heavy vehicles to reduce fuel consumption, and numerical investigation on performance and stability of axial compressors used in aircraft engines and gas turbines.

In a welcome address, Rector Nust Engr Muhammad Asghar said, “This will give an impetus for collaborative research between universities and other research organizations within the country and abroad.” and explained that the new facility will inspire scholars studying abroad to return to Pakistan.


Pakistan’s investment in terascale computing exhibits a willingness to promote scientific research – a forward-leaning strategy for a developing nation on the cusp of becoming industrialized. Unlike India’s HPC plans, Pakistan is not attempting to join the ‘supercomputing elite’ here, but rather to promote science collaborations, while creating an incentive for Pakistani researchers and engineers who work abroad to return to the country.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a National Geographic report on discovery of Higgs Boson:

..The long-sought particle may complete the standard model of physics by explaining why objects in our universe have mass—and in so doing, why galaxies, planets, and even humans have any right to exist.

"We have a discovery," Heuer said at the seminar. "We have observed a new particle consistent with a Higgs boson."

At the meeting were four theorists who helped develop the Higgs theory in the 1960s, including Peter Higgs himself, who could be seen wiping away tears as the announcement was made.

Although preliminary, the results show a so-called five-sigma of significance, which means that there is only a one in a million chance that the Higgs-like signal the teams observed is a statistical fluke.

"It's a tremendous and exciting time," said physicist Michael Tuts, who works with the ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC Apparatus) Experiment, one of the two Higgs-seeking LHC projects.

The Columbia University physicist had organized a wee-hours gathering of physicists and students in the U.S. to watch the announcement, which took place at 9 a.m., Geneva time.

"This is the payoff. This is what you do it for."

The two LHC teams searching for the Higgs—the other being the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) project—did so independently. Neither one knew what the other would present this morning.

"It was interesting that the competing experiment essentially had the same result," said physicist Ryszard Stroynowski, an ATLAS team member based at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "It provides additional confirmation."

CERN head Heuer called today's announcement a "historic milestone" but cautioned that much work lies ahead as physicists attempt to confirm the newfound particle's identity and further probe its properties.

For example, though the teams are certain the new particle has the proper mass for the predicted Higgs boson, they still need to determine whether it behaves as the God particle is thought to behave—and therefore what its role in the creation and maintenance of the universe is.

"I think we can all be proud ... but it's a beginning," Heuer said.

Higgs Boson Results Exceeded Expectations

The five-sigma results from both the ATLAS and CMS experiments exceeded the expectations of many physicists, including David Evans, leader of the U.K. team that works on the LHC-based ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) Collaboration.

Evans had predicted Tuesday the teams would announce a four-sigma result—just short of the rigorous standard traditionally required for a new-particle observation to officially count as a true discovery and not a fluke.

"It's even better than I expected," said Evans, of the University of Birmingham in the U.K. "I think we can say the Higgs is here. It exists."

Evans attributed the stronger-than-expected results to "a mixture of the LHC doing a fantastic job" and "ATLAS and CMS doing a fantastic job of improving their analysis since December," when the two teams announced a two-sigma observation of signs of a Higgs-like particle.

"So even with the same data, they can get more significance."

ATLAS spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti also had high praise for the LHC, a multibillion-dollar machine that had suffered numerous mishaps and setbacks in its early days. (Related: "Electrical Glitch Delays Large Hadron Collider."


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Nature report on Pakistan's science & technology policy:

As they hail Pakistan's first comprehensive national science, technology and innovation (ST&I) policy, the country's science leaders are hopeful of effective implementation and funding.

The 'National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy–2012', launched last month (23 November) with support from the Pakistan Council for Science and Technology and the ministry of science and technology, is expected to help Pakistan emerge as a scientifically sensitive nation.

Describing the policy, at the launch, as "demand-driven and people-centric ", Changez Khan Jamali, federal minister for science and technology, said it was a milestone in Pakistan's self-reliant development strategy.

Jamali said the new policy was focused on improving the quality of life for common people through the creation of a conducive industrial and economic environment.

Pakistan has an ambitious plan to increase its science budget to 1 and 2 per cent of annual gross domestic product spending by 2015 and 2020 respectively, against the present 0.6 per cent.

Akhlaq Ahmed Tarar, secretary in the ministry, told SciDev.Net that he looked forward to "having close to 1 per cent allocation in the 2013 budget."

"The only fuel to make this policy a success is real political and fiscal support, which government is committed to provide – so there are hopes for an innovative and technologically advanced future for Pakistan," Tarar said.

A national policy for ST&I has been in the making since 1960 when the National Science Commission of Pakistan was constituted and tasked with finding ways to promote scientific research.

However, various hurdles stood in the way, the chief among them in more recent years being funding cuts forced by the recession and natural disasters.

The new policy focuses on environment science, biotechnology, energy, water, minerals, ocean-sciences and engineering as critical areas demanding priority.

It recognises innovation as an integral part of the S&T system while emphasising development of human resources, training and education.

Manzoor Soomro, chairman of the Pakistan Science Foundation, an autonomous body under the science ministry, told SciDev.Net that to make the new policy serve the country's socio-economic development better, public-private partnerships and academia-industry linkages would need to be forged.

"Higher Education Commission and the well-developed offices of research, innovation and commercialisation that already maintain R&D links with different public-private organisations, would be the beneficiaries of this policy," Soomro said.


Riaz Haq said...

A recent UNESCO report shows that Pakistan had 162 science and tech researchers per million people in 2009, a 2X increase from from 80 in 2005.


By contrast India had 152 S&T researchers per million inhabitants in 2009, up from 136 in 2005.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of a blog post from Scientific American:

Our class was recently asked whether or not we felt particle physics research should receive public funding. The majority of us were opposed, our reasons being that such research has no practical value. An instrument as sophisticated and expensive as a particle collider is surely a waste of a nation’s resources.

So it might come as a surprise that plans to build a synchrotron particle collider in Jordan have received overwhelming support from countries in the Middle East, including Iran, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Scientific discovery is not the only goal being pursued. Those involved hope that this installation, appropriately dubbed SESAME (for Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East), will open lines of communication between countries that would not normally work together, and possibly inspire peace.

In John Horgan’s The End of War, he argues that war can be eradicated by simply choosing peace. To support his argument he cites Muzafer Sherif’s famous Robbers Cave Experiment, in which twenty-two fifth-grade boys in a camp were divided into two groups, Rattlers and Eagles, and kept apart for a week, each group growing suspicious of the “others.”

When brought together to compete in games, the groups were alarmingly violent toward one another, having been “manipulated into hating and fighting.” However, once the groups were presented with problems that could only be solved by cooperating with one another, the violence ceased, and they eventually became friends. Sherif saw these interactions as evidence that “traditionally hostile groups can overcome their differences if they are bound together by [a common goal].”

This idea inspired Stanford University physicist Herman Winick more than a decade ago to suggest the synchrotron being dismantled in Germany be sent to the Middle East instead of being scrapped. In the same way that the boys in Sherif’s experiment could only rent a movie if everyone contributed money, a project as expensive as SESAME can only be achieved with funding from multiple countries.

As of 2012, Iran, Israel, Jordan and Turkey have agreed to make contributions of $5 million each to fund the project, which will be based in Jordan and is expected to open in 2015. Pakistan and the Palestinian Authority are willing to give $5 million and $2 million respectively, and Egypt and the United States are both considering making contributions. The project has also been donated spare parts from a number of countries following Germany’s example, and has received funding from the European Union (Science Diplomacy).


Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Express Tribune story on Pakistan becoming associate member of CERN:

Pakistan on Friday moved a step closer to becoming associate member of European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), the largest particle physics laboratory in the world.
According to scientists at the National Centre for Physics (NCP) which has been collaborating with CERN since 2000, the CERN Council unanimously approved in principle Pakistan’s name for the process of achieving associate membership, at a meeting on September 17.
The final approval for associate membership depends upon the report of a CERN “fact-finding mission” which will visit Pakistan in February 2014, said Dr Hafeez Hoorani, who is the Director Research at NCP.
The Council’s approval marks the culmination of a process that was initiated by Pakistani scientists in 2008 and has witnessed scientific lobbying, political delays and even a diplomatic campaign by the Pakistani Foreign Office. It also signals the beginning of a process that could potentially lead to Pakistan’s associate membership by the end of 2014.

Located on the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, Switzerland, CERN conducts some of the most complex scientific experiments of all-time in a bid to understand the structure of the universe. It is the birthplace of the World Wide Web and is home to the world’s largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
Pakistan is already contributing to CERN projects including designing detection technology and providing personnel support for the LHC’s maintenance. Associate membership could take the level of collaboration up a notch....
The CERN Council consists of 20 member states — all European countries — which are represented by two members each, a scientist and a diplomat. According to NCP scientists, the diplomats were reluctant when Pakistan’s associate membership application came up this year.
CERN has three associate members at present: Serbia, Israel and Ukraine. Responding to a question, Hoorani said Pakistan has also beaten regional neighbour India to the membership process.
Following the approval from the Council, a four-member CERN team led by Director for Research and Computing, Sergio Bertolluci, will visit Pakistan in 2014, he said.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Dawn report on an emerging science city in Karachi:

....Of these five centers, one is the only institute for human clinical trials in Pakistan, the other a core of computational biology and the third provides consultancy to people suffering from genetic diseases.


The centers and their growth have been working towards what has been termed as a ‘silent revolution’ and had been described by Professor Wolfgang Voelter of Tubingen University as a ‘miracle.’

The Hussain Ebrahim Jamal (HEJ) Research Institute of Chemistry was only a small post graduate institute before a generous donation of Rs 5 million in 1976 set the center towards the path of excellence. Latif Ebrahim Jamal’s endowment, on behalf of the Hussain Ebrahim Jamal Foundation, was the largest private funding for science in Pakistan at the time.

The center houses old NMR machines of 300 megahertz to state-of-the-art Liquid Chromatograph Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (LCNMR).

Under the leadership of eminent chemist Dr Salimuzzaman Siddiqui and Dr Atta-ur-Rehman, the institute became a magnet for more funding and projects from around the world. Over a period of time, it received $30 million in funding from various countries. Recently, Islamic Development Bank (IDB) donated $ 40 million for research on regional and tropical diseases. Dr Atta-ur-Rehman, a renowned chemist and the former chairman of Higher Education Commission said,

Currently, the center has one of the largest PhD programs in the country in the fields of natural product chemistry, plant biotechnology, computational biology, spectroscopy and other disciplines at the frontiers of science.

Young scholars research scientific literature at the LEJ National Science Information Center. The facility is connected to the world’s largest science database, ranging from thousands of primary research journals and books. -Photo by author
Young scholars research scientific literature at the LEJ National Science Information Center. The facility is connected to the world’s largest science database, ranging from thousands of primary research journals and books. -Photo by author
The ground floor of the institute holds 12 state-of-the-art Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) machines that are vital in the research of the structure, reaction and other properties of various compounds and molecules, as well as an X-ray crystallography setup which uses X-rays to learn the structure of crystalline material.

The X-ray crystallography setup is used to construct 3-D structures of molecules under study. -Photo by author
The X-ray crystallography setup is used to construct 3-D structures of molecules under study. -Photo by author
“We have recently finished the structure of a compound showing anti-inflammatory activity,” said Sammer Yousuf, senior research officer at the institute who was awarded the Regional Prize for Young Scientists by the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) in 2011 for her work.

“In the last two and a half years our institute was awarded 24 international patents,” Dr Rehman proudly adds.

Since its inception, the HEJ which was inducted into the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) in the ‘90s has produced hundreds of doctorates, thousands of papers and hundreds of international patents, and also helps over 350 industries across Pakistan. The Industrial Analytical Center at the HEJ provides testing, consultancy and research for various industries in Pakistan.

The construction of a state-of-the-art center for nanotechnology is underway while the Jamil-ur-Rehman Center for Genome Research, also falling under HEJ, is almost complete. The center, named after Dr Rehman’s father who was the main donor of the institute, already houses modern gene sequencing machines.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Nation news story on Knowledge Hub in Karachi:

KARACHI - First time in the history of country, Latif Ebrahim Jamal National Science Information Center (LEJNSIC), Karachi University (KU), is going to start an open learning program, named ‘LEJ Knowledge HUB’, in Pakistan and globally as well.
These views were expressed by former HEC chairman Prof Attaur Rahman while speaking at a press conference at Karachi Press Club on Friday.
“Pakistan is now among the first in the world to initiate a learning platform which includes integrated courses from various major world sources for ready accessibility, structured mentoring and assessment system,” he added.
He said the programme has potential to change the entire landscape of higher education in Pakistan and the developing world.
Chairman Husein Ebrahim Jamal Foundation Mr Aziz Latif Jamal and Director International Center for Chemical, Biological Sciences (ICCBS-KU) Prof Iqbal Chaudhary were also present on the occasion.
Prof Attaur Rahman said that the vision of the program was to provide an interface for the researchers and reputed institutions from around the world to collaborate, share and enhance their knowledge. An easily accessible treasure chest of unending information is being made available to students, faculty and researchers alike, he maintained.
The entire programme is led by our most celebrated scientist and global leader in education, Prof Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman as a monumental service to the nation and the world at large. Talking about his federal minister ship, he said that the first major steps to enter into the new IT age were taken in Pakistan when I (Prof Atta) was the Federal Minister of Science & Technology in 2000-2002.
“Internet access was confined to only 29 cities till early 2,000. It was rapidly expanded to cover 2,000 cities, towns and villages during the next two years. Fiber was expanded from 40 cities to over a 1000 cities and towns. Bandwidth had been priced ridiculously high till then ---$ 87,000 per month for a 2 MB line per month. The rapid improvements in the IT infra-structure allowed me later as Chairman Higher Education Commission to use them for the benefit of the higher education sector,” he held.
“In the year 2001, a satellite was placed in space (PakSat 1) and a couple of transponders were set aside for distance learning courses of the Virtual University that we established in Lahore. Today the Virtual University provides quality education to over 100,000 students and has teaching programs across Pakistan and abroad,” he maintained.
Dr Atta said that the inaugural ceremony of the LEJ Knowledge HUB will be held at Sindh Governor House on December 12, when the 4-day 14th Asian Symposium on Medicinal Plants, Spices and Other Natural Products (ASOMPS) will also be concluded; President of Pakistan, Mamnoon Hussain will inaugurate the country’s great knowledge resource.”
Aziz Latif Jamal said: “LatifEbrahim Jamal National Science Information Center (LEJNSIC) has been serving as a hub of information dissemination and focal center of the Virtual Education Project Pakistan (VEPP) since 2008, led and supervised by Attaur Rahman and Prof Iqbal Choudhary.
Talking about the significance of the Asian Symposium, Prof Iqbal Choudhary said that a special session is dedicated to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ASOMPS, which started in 1960 from Peshawar (Pakistan). Moreover, some plenary and keynote lectures will be also arranged through video conferencing.
“The program will consist of plenary lectures, keynote lectures, session lectures and poster presentations. Each session will address a theme topic within the area of Medicinal Plants and other Related Natural Products. Special events will be arranged to ensure a lively interaction between scientists and students of natural product chemistry,” he opined....