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A Conversation with Professor Chaochung Ting

On March 4th, Yifang Lecture Hall was brimming with exciting atmosphere. That was because Professor Samuel Chaochung Ting, a renowned physicist and winner of Nobel Prize for Physics, together with his wife, visited Nanjing Normal University, sharing his opinions about physics with over 300 teachers and students.  The President of NNU, Professor Minqiang Hu, Deputy Secretary of CPC NNU Committee, Professor Jian Wang, Vice Presidents of  NNU, Professor Baiqi Pan, Professor Lixin Tian, Professor  Wanhong Tang, Professor Jiandong Miao, and Professor Xuyu Zhang, as well as other leaders and colleagues attended the talk. The event was hosted by Mr Yafei Dai, a young teacher from the School of Physics Science and Xizhi Sun, a student from the School of Chinese Language and Literature. 

Professor Samuel Chaochung Ting, whose ancestral home was in Rizhao, Shandong Province, is a word famous experimental physicist. He received a doctoral degree in physics from the University of Michigan, an academician of AAS, AAAS, and the former soviet academy of sciences. Professor Ting’s research focuses on Experimental Particle Physics, QED, and material interactions. He won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1976, and was awarded Lorentz Medal by American government. In 2013, he and his AMS team declared their program had made a periodical achievement, which made a great contribution to the human’s knowledge of dark matter. Highly concerned with China’s development in the field of physics, for many times has he come to China for academic exchanges and universities- visiting, ignoring all inconvenience and long travel distances. He introduced the current development of international HEP to China, and encouraged international stars in physics to cooperate with Chinese counterparts to cultivate more  talents for China.

Mr. and Mrs. Ting, accompanied by other school leaders and guests, came into the hall with a round of warm applause. Musical department students performed for him a traditional tune from regions southern Jiangsu Province. Then students representative presented flowers to the couple after the introduction from the host. 

During the dialogue, the host asked professor Ting whether or nor his childhood in Nanjing and Chongqing had an impact on his life and his research. He answered humorously that he was only 4 months old when he came to China, so it was hard for an infant to tell. He spent almost ten years in Chongqing, and stayed in Nanjing from ten to twelve. Despite a short stay in China, he still has a vivid memory of Chongqing. When asked why he gave his speech in Chinese when accepting the Nobel Prize,  he said Chinese was one of the most time-honored countries in the world, and he wanted to deliver the recipient’s speech in his mother tongue. The host asked him whether he had any suggestions for scientific research in physics to offer, the professor said what he could give was only his own experience. He took himself as an example to illustrate that one had better do what she or he likes in their life. When asked how to release himself after those “dull” experiments, he confirmed that he didn’t think of experiments dull at all. If you want to do something in physics, then insist on it for a life long. Besides, we should bear in mind that preciseness is very critical in scientific research. His remarks were well-organized but full of humor, winning students’ admiration for both his academic achievements and his personality. 

During the talk, many students in the audience wanted to ask him questions. With patience, Doctor Ting answered them one by one. In terms of what will lead a person to success, he owned it to his education received from his parents and supports from the family. He emphasized that every time theories were discredited by experiments, science would progress further. Taking this opportunity, one student asked what should be proper concept philosophy of physical education. This Nobel Prize winner shared that he once spent a long time thinking about what the mass is in physics. He hoped students can explore the originality and validity behind those formulas. His opinions benefited students a lot.  When a postgraduate expressed his wish to join his team, Doctor Ting welcomed him and also other students to come if they want. This gentleman’s affable attitudes and profound opinions impressed the students deeply as a great master.

Other aspects of philosophy and scientific research were also touched on during the dialogue, such as discovery of the J particle, his programs on D matter and AMS, the cultivation of university students’ innovation and practical ability, and so on. 

In the end, two students from the School of Fine Arts presented the Doctor his portrait and writings as gifts.

Prior to the event, Mr. and Mrs. Ting visited the Suiyuan Campus, and planted a osmanthus tree in front of Building No. 200. The tree will bring a new feature to “the most beautiful campus in the east”. (Photo by Ying Liu and Quan Chen)