Can our physics do something for Pakistan?

On the 14th of August 2014, we like to celebrate the Independence Day by reiterating our unwavering commitment to the cause of high quality education.

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The Physlab at the Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering recently completed its collaborative project with Karachi’s Habib University. This marks another satisfying moment in its six year long journey of indigenous development and design of physics teaching experiments, and sharing its innovations with others too.

The experiments made for the Habib University and the other four universities we have collaborated with so far, are updated versions of experiments currently housed at our own premises. The experiments come with apparatuses, software and analysis tools, instructor manuals, pictorial procedures as well as teacher training.

The Physlab team conducted the project with the help of a specially hired student of industrial projects. Right from planning to the timely execution, from market surveys and purchasing, to manufacturing and assembling, testing and inspection, all completed within an intensively active period of two months (coinciding with the indolent summer and meditative Ramadan periods), the experiments were finally transported to the worthy recipients in Karachi on 8 August 2014.

Here is a list of universities where the Physlab has been partially replicated through an unparalleled demonstration of expertise sharing between Pakistani institutions:

It can be hoped that apart from highlighting immense possibilities for meaningful academic collaborations between the country’s Universities, there are economic and manpower benefits that can be derived from such initiatives. For example, could such an exercise spiral a new wave of technology development, glimpses of which we see around the developing world, though at much higher costs and financial inputs? Who knows!

Could we also use physics to connect people and institutions, instead of becoming used to the prevalent situations of useless divisions festering inside the country’s small physics community? These divisions are sometimes between excellence and mediocrity; and sometimes between self-elitism and looking down upon those who are left behind in the journey towards excellence. We need to bridge these gaps. We cannot submit to the making of islands, we must also connect these to the mainland. Physics, like other sciences can help us make new connections.

In summary, the successful completion of this project will initiate a new era of collaboration between LUMS and Habib University. It will also serve as a prominent demonstration of the potential of experimental science in Pakistan and by experimental science, we refer here not to ivory houses of empires or estates of equipment, which are a drainage on the national exchequer and in some years languish in the forgotten corridors of institutional neglect; but to earthly, smart, modern, homegrown, adaptable and open source physics experiments that can be opened up, observed, and then refashioned to the heart’s desire!

Khayyam