A Walk through POSTECH Campus - Appreciating the Life and Nature
A Walk through POSTECH Campus - Appreciating the Life and Nature
  • Professor Lee Seung-Woo
  • 승인 2018.11.07 14:32
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I started to take strolls around the campus at lunch for exercise to lose weight. When I step out of my workplace- the PBC- and go up the long staircase that leads to Cheongam Road, the main buildings of POSTECH enter my sight. When the sky is clear and blue, the buildings, sky, and nearby trees harmonize, evoking a pleasant sensation. Some might complain that our university buildings were built too low, but I prefer such feature since the harmony created by the gigantic old trees and rectangular-square buildings is only made possible by it.


Following my usual track, I cross Cheongam Rd. and enter Mueunjae St. to walk towards the Student Union Building. I usually order a cup of tea from Café Serio and explore the new books in the campus bookstore. As I appreciate my tea, I walk slowly towards the Sports Field. Our school field is one of my favorite places on campus. The green grass and red tracks that enter my sight, the blank sky and vacant space that ease my eyes, the omnipresent cool breeze, the sound of fluttering leaves and the tranquility- as if the field is distorting time, which seems to pass slowly across the field. Maybe I’m deluding myself due to the clock visible across the street that omits the second hand.


When I depart from the field and head back toward the main buildings, I arrive at the Nobel Garden. While looking at the trees planted by the Nobel Prize winners, I wonder what they thought when they planted them. A Nobel Prize can only be won when a sufficient amount of history and culture of science is accumulated, but, sadly, our impatient society only seems to consider how to achieve the prize more quickly.


In the middle stands a statue of Chairman Park Tae-joon; when standing upon the excellent statue coined by a Chinese professional, I naturally feel reverence for him and believe that he will continuously aid POSTECH’s future. When I have an adequate amount of time left, I head to RIST to look at the egrets, which I see so often that I feel like I raise them, and then I return to PBC.


Walking along the same course every day, the changes of nature along each season are manifest to my eyes. Like anywhere else, magnolia announces the arrival of spring. Magnolia has been crouching inside little winter buds all winter and as the ground melts and the weather starts to warm, pops out of nowhere in forms of little blossoms. The scenery of each magnolia is stunning and has the power to make one remark like the organs at the end of Saint-Saens Symphony No.3. But why do magnolias point towards the north? Do they feel the Earth’s magnetic field as a robin searches its direction while flying across half of the earth? On campus, the road that connects Nobel Garden and RIST Cafeteria displays the best magnolia scenery.


As April begins, who wouldn’t have had their hearts tingling as the campus is filled with the cherry blossoms on every branch? Along with spring songs and Iwai Shunji’s film April Story, cherry blossoms brings back memories of a naïve young man. The blossoms, however, don’t last much due to Pohang’s fierce gusts of winds. Kim Hoon, an author of Bicycle Traveling, quoted how each fall of spring flowers has its own characteristic: “When a plum blossom falls, it doesn’t fall as a whole but each petal drops individually and disintegrates along with the wind. The plum blossom disappears into a flower drift as a form of time vanishes to the call of wind. The peak of the peach blossom is not when it sways on a branch, but the moment of fall. So are the cherry blossoms, pear blossoms, and peach blossoms.” This is grim- but so is the reality. The cells of each petal, after enduring the cold and harsh winter, choose to die. The academic term of the process of a cell choosing its own death is apoptosis. The etymology of apoptosis is Greek. Apo means separation and -ptosis means fall. Not all ends must be grim, but nature is sometimes strident. When a purpose is completed, life exits without hesitation. However, although grim, as death is a sacrifice for the whole and reincarnation through circulation, it isn’t pathetic. Cherry blossoms can be observed everywhere on campus but the trees on the hills are most favorable. An engaged couple was taking wedding photos among the cherry blossoms, green lively grass, and the pure energy of April. Just in time, Bruckner- Symphony No.4 1st movement began playing in my earbuds- what can be more of a Springtime Romance than this?


As time passed, the seemingly everlasting hot summer ended, Chuseok slipped away and October came along with autumn. Staring at the blue autumn sky and watching the white clouds flow pass is always refreshing. The clean Pohang sky with little dust is one aspect that I always brag about to my fellow researchers in Seoul. I seldom remark during lectures about the value of nature in POSTECH. But it is hard to deliver this impression to my busy students- at least I was at that age.


As the last of September flies by, nature enters the season of harvest and order. At this time of the year, the quince tree on Mueunjae St. always halts my step forward. It always amazes me how such thin branches can hold so many big fruits. Each quince is ultimately made up of sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide through photosynthesis- the reaction that maintains all life forms on Earth. Since modern science can’t follow the high efficiency of photosynthesis, the phrase ‘nature always outstands us’ surely suits us. Animals that can’t generate their own source of energy are destined to consume organic matter to survive. Since, regardless of the source, all organic matters root from plants, I thank their altruistic work of generating food for other species. The scent of quince that fills the air along the autumn breeze reminds me of Vivaldi’s motet, “Nula in mundo pax sincera” from the movie Shine. One reason for my fondness towards quince is the flower that blooms for a short moment in May. How can such a beautiful flower that resembles an austere rose bear such an ugly fruit? Such futile thoughts makes me smirk.


“To walk is to open yourself to the world. As a man walks on his feet, legs, and body, he recovers the happiness felt by his existence.” A French sociologist David Le Breton expressed his passion towards walking in ‘Elonge de la marche’. The phrase “man realizes his existence” is understood differently to us biologists. All life forms originate from elements from far away space. These are coincidently deposited onto Earth and compiled into organic/inorganic matter, and took form as a replicating and evolving organism. For almost an eternal amount of time, all life forms join along this long journey as a continuum of an organism. Even though each individual lives its unique life, no one can last forever. In the end, all returns back to elements of matter and reform as a component of another life form. The equality of life and circulation is not within the realms of ideas and concepts, but a scientific fact. As each and every life form becomes one and symphonizes with nature like Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony 5th movement, I, as an existing living creature, feel grateful and humble. As I finish my journey around the campus, the Metasequoia and gingko trees, said to have existed since the Jurassic, whisper about my late enlightenment.


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