Race against history: a century long quest for a powerful country with science and technology

The two most famous journals in the scientific community, one was founded in 1869 and the other in 1880. Being able to publish papers in these two journals is basically equivalent to knocking on the door of the international top academic circle. But what few people know is that the first time Chinese people published articles in top journals was 1881. < p > < p > in 1881, the magazine published a paper from China called. This paper questions the famous Bernoulli’s law and corrects it with modern science. The editorial office highly commented: “we see that the modern scientific amendment to an old law has been solved independently by the Chinese people.” This English paper is actually translated from an awkward Chinese paper called. Xu Shou, the author of this paper, was born in a landlord’s home in Wuxi. He studied hundreds of classics and histories when he was young, but unfortunately he failed in the junior examination. After his failure, Xu Shou felt that “learning Eight Legged shares can not save the Chinese people”, so he gave up his career as an official in the imperial examination. He began to dabble in mathematics, physics, chemistry and other books. During the climax of Westernization Movement in the late Qing Dynasty, Xu Shou came to the Jiangnan manufacturing General Administration under Zeng Guofan in 1867, and presented four suggestions to the latter, the most important of which was “translating western books”. With the support of Zeng Guofan, the Translation Office of Jiangnan manufacturing Bureau was opened. Xu Shou led the publication of translated works such as, and, and created the chemical elements of Chinese character naming. In 1874, Xu Shou and British missionary John fryer jointly founded Gezhi academy, which is located at 66 Guangxi North Road, Shanghai. It is a completely new type of modern school, focusing on minerals, surveying and mapping, manufacturing and other courses. It can be regarded as a center for the spread of Western learning. Later, the English version of Xu Shou’s paper was translated by fryer. Three years after the publication of his paper, Xu Shou died of illness. After 45 years of lack of funds, Duan Qirui, the head of the Beiyang government at that time, ordered the closure of the translation Museum, which lasted for 45 years under the condition of lack of funds. From 1881 when Xu Shou’s paper was published to 1949 when the people’s Republic of China was founded, China’s scientific research remained blank for a long time. Basically, the progress of science and technology in a country is a complex system engineering. It needs the close cooperation of top-level design, bureaucrats, social organizations and talent echelons. It is also inseparable from financial investment, financial lubrication, commercial blood production and public respect for scientific spirit. A few short-lived scientific talents are precious, but they are hard to shake the wheel of history. < p > < p > from the moment when “Mr. de” and “Mr. Sai” were called out in the May 4th movement, “strengthening China through science” has become the goal of continuous struggle and efforts of several generations of Chinese people. But in the trade war more than 100 years later, we felt that the previous efforts were far from enough. At this special time point, it is also necessary for us to resume trading. In the 100 years of running against history, we have done what is right and what is wrong. < / P > < p > this question is not only asked by Chinese, but also by foreigners. It was Joseph Needham, an Englishman, who first raised this question in western academic circles. Joseph Needham, a British biochemist, graduated from Cambridge and became famous in academic circles when he was very young. He received several Chinese students at the age of 37, and after hearing their introduction, he became interested in ancient Chinese history. After that, Needham began to learn Chinese. He came to China more than ten times, visited more than 30000 miles, and finally wrote a great book. It can be said that Joseph Needham, through a large number of textual research, excavation and collation, systematically showed the scientific and technological achievements of ancient China to the western world, which brought China scientific and technological confidence to a certain extent, but at the same time, he also brought us a slightly ashamed question: Although ancient China has made a lot of important contributions to the development of human science and technology, why does science and technology and science Did the industrial revolution not take place in modern China? There are many answers to Needham’s question. Some people find the answer from the perspective of ideological culture and others from the perspective of political system. Each has its own reason. However, from a purely scientific point of view, ancient Chinese science and technology overemphasized practicality, and technology was basically empirical technology, belonging to craftsman civilization, lacking of theoretical discussion, no strict logical system, and social top-down neglect of basic science. < p > < p > take the gun as an example. This weapon with great lethality in the cold weapon era should have been developed and improved by the ruling class. However, up to the Qing Dynasty, the Chinese still “only knew how to cast the gun body with iron, and there was no scientific measure, so the firing could not be accurate” [5]. In contrast, Europe went deep into the direction of gunpowder, machinery and smelting Science, physics, materials and other disciplines, the results are not the same. Since the Westernization Movement, this situation has been gradually understood by the elites. However, due to the turbulent environment in modern times, saving the nation from subjugation and survival has become the top priority of the nation, so the priority of scientific research can only go to the back row. After the founding of the people’s Republic of China, most of the funds were invested in the industrialization. Although relying on the efforts of scientific researchers, we still synthesized bovine insulin in the 1960s and artemisinin in the 1970s, but “a single flower is not a spring”. After the reform and opening up, with the rapid development of commodity economy, “going into the sea” has become a social fashion. A number of basic researchers have also turned to applied research, and thus there is “better to do than sell tea eggs”. Basic science, which was originally weak, was hit again. Some colleges and universities can’t even purchase advanced books and materials. The crisis of basic science is becoming more and more serious, and the older generation of scientists, educators and technical officials are anxious. < p > < p > although the universities and research institutes built in the first 30 years are all over the country, and the State Council also approved the establishment of the National Natural Science Foundation in 1986, the operation of these institutions needs strong financial support. In fact, it was not until the reform of the tax sharing system in 1994 that the funds allocated to basic science were guaranteed for a long time. After China’s accession to the WTO in 2001, GDP and central finance soared continuously, and China’s scientific research gradually stepped out of the predicament. < / P > < p > by 2018, the total number of SCI published by China every year has reached the second highest in the world. However, the trade war broke out in the same year coldly tells us that all the “neck sticking” is, in the final analysis, insufficient basic investment. Driven by the “total force” on the other side of the ocean, the whole society has systematically reflected on the shortcomings exposed in the trade war. In 2019, Academician Yuan Yaxiang once said that China pays more attention to technology than science, and that investment in basic research is seriously insufficient. According to the data, in 2018, China’s basic research expenditure accounted for only 5% of the total R & D expenditure, which was the highest proportion in the past 10 years, compared with 17% in the United States and 12% in Japan in the same period. There is no doubt that “basic research breakthrough” is necessary. Compared with 20% of the total investment in the United States, what we need is not only the national team, but also the enterprise team. < p > < p > < p > after enriching their stocks, most Chinese entrepreneurs begin to pour resources into fields with social value, some to charity and some to poverty alleviation. This is the result of the western ideological trend and the embodiment of the traditional idea of “reaching the goal and unifying the world”. After realizing the important role of basic scientific research, many leading enterprises began to march into the field of “science”, which was rarely participated by private funds before. During the two sessions in 2019, Shen NANPENG of Sequoia and Ma Huateng of Tencent submitted the proposal of “guiding social forces and strengthening investment in basic scientific research”. In fact, not only Sequoia and Tencent, but also Huawei, Ali, Baidu, Geely, Hengrui and other enterprises have increased their support for basic scientific research in recent years. They have not only invested a large amount of money in basic research and development internally, but also have a lot of cooperation with external universities and research institutes. < p > < p > Yang Zhenning once said: it is a difficult period for scholars to choose a field and make a standing job in the 5-10 years after they obtain their doctorate. In May 2018, on the 38th floor of Tencent group headquarters, Rao Yi, Professor of Peking University, told Ma Huateng about the pressure faced by young scientists at the dinner table. After careful discussion, Ma Huateng and Rao Yi left a sentence: “I’ll find a team to follow up.”. < p > < p > more than 20 days later, Ma Huateng stressed at the future forum in Beijing that “we should not take chances any more, we must invest more resources in basic scientific research”. In November of that year, on the 20th anniversary of Tencent, Ma Huateng, Rao Yi, Yang Zhenning and other scientists jointly established the “scientific exploration Award” to support young scholars. < / P > < p > the award, known as “China’s Nobel Prize”, is aimed at nine basic science and cutting-edge core technology fields. It encourages young scientists regardless of remuneration. All scientific research achievements do not aim at commercial demands, and the funds of “scientific exploration Award” are completely controlled by researchers. < / P > < p > we will always commemorate the older generation of scientists who devoted their youth to science and technology and lament their selfless dedication. However, it is obviously unscientific to ask researchers to drink cold water and chew dry food blindly. As Ma Huateng said, “we do applied innovation, which is to build buildings in the territory of scientists.”. It should be a social consensus to attach importance to basic research so that researchers can do research at ease. For the Chinese who are good at making festivals, we should create more festivals such as “Science Week”, “science month” and “science season” besides various consumption festivals. In July 2005, Qian Xuesen, who was recuperating in the hospital, said to his visit that “no university can run a school in accordance with the mode of cultivating talents for scientific and technological invention and creation, and there are always no outstanding talents.” A few days after Qian Xuesen’s death in 2009, this topic was once again thrown to the society by 11 professors in Anhui Universities, calling on everyone to face the heavy but unavoidable “Qian Xuesen’s question”. Qian Xuesen’s question directly refers to the construction of talents, which is also a difficult problem for China’s education circle in the past century. Before the founding of the people’s Republic of China, there were German teaching and research model, American course selection model and British Academy model, but after the founding of the people’s Republic of China, they were basically carried out under the guidance of Soviet experts. From the details of micro teaching, to the structure of medium universities and then to the macro management system, it can be said that all of them are the shadow of the Soviet Union, and even the textbooks are the Soviet Union’s blueprint. In 1956, Soviet experts compiled 629 kinds of teaching materials for China, training more than 80000 graduate students and teachers [6]. Under the Soviet model, all education was based on the needs of the national economy, and a highly centralized planning mode and highly specialized teaching system were formed. Targeted recruitment, targeted learning and targeted distribution. In this way, the advanced talents, like screws, are neat and uniform, pointing out where to play. The mode of < / P > < p > is helpful to the rapid directional attack, but its disadvantages are gradually emerging. In the future of customization, students are more utilitarian and less motivated to pursue themselves

Author: zmhuaxia