The Current State of Fundamental Science in Jiaotong University
The Current State of Fundamental Science in Jiaotong University
  • Reporter Lee Sang-hui
  • 승인 2017.02.10 19:27
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Bin Wang is a distinguished professor of Physics and Astronomy Department in Shanghai Jiao Tong University. He was selected as the Cross Century Excellent Young Researcher award in 2003, and won the NNSFC Outstanding Young Researcher Award in 2005. He has published over 100 papers and got more than 3000 citations. During overseas reportage, The Postech Times had a chance to interview Prof. Wang about the his research, students, and the university.
Q. What is your main area of research?
I am working on general relativity, and two research topics: black hole physics and cosmology. Questions like where we come from, what is the beginning of the universe, why we have our planet are fascinating. General relativity is used as a tool of our research. Newton’s law is used to describe the flat space, and we are living in curved space due to gravitation. So we need a general relativity to study this kind of curved space.
Q. Without considering other numerous options, the career of the university students after their graduation may split into entering companies and studying for graduation course. What is your opinion on this?
It is difficult to keep career as a scholar. In university, you will get paid well compared to people work in companies. Money is an attraction for some students who are talented but they do not want to keep on doing research, as you have to face the life. However, some other students who are strongly immersed in research areas keep on their study. It is everybody's own choice, and we cannot say good or bad.
Q. What kinds of careers do undergraduate students follow after their graduations?
In China, especially in good universities, unfortunately, best students go to the USA for the graduation course. This is a big problem for the country. We tried a lot to keep good students in our country, such as increasing the scholarship, but they still leave. (Laugh)
Q. Korean government has tendency to financially support short term research that can pull out profits fast. Do research like natural science support well in Shanghai Jiao Tong University?
I think every government has this kind of short sighted policy. However, long term, fundamental science is quite important. If people did not understand electromagnetism, they could not have mobile devices. The word ‘long term’ does not mean ‘long’ in terms of time. For instance, let’s say you want to produce an egg with a hen. Will you kill the hen and sell it if it does not produce an egg in the following day? Or will you still raise it? This is the same question. Still, however, governments usually just support short term research with reward (the egg). I hope that government (Chinese) open their mind and have long term version
Q. What is the lecture environment like in the university? Also, has there been any consideration by professors of using Flipped Learning Method?
Flipped learning sounds a good kind of try. But for good students, I think it does not matter what kind of method you teach the student. If he is good, he is always good. For good students-who can pass the exam, I do not require them to attend every class since they can understand what I am going to say in the class. Teaching method would only matter for middle level students. If you have a good method in teaching then probably they would study faster and grasp the knowledge better.
Q. In Shanghai Jiao Tong University, do you use textbooks written in English?
Most of our textbooks are written in Chinese, because old Chinese scientists wrote many textbooks. During the old generation, the country was closed, and we still do not have much chance to communicate with people who speak in English. In China, books in all majors are basically written in Chinese, but recently it is changing to textbooks written in English especially from graduate courses.
Q. Although this may be contain significant generalization, but Chinese and Korean are likely to be passive in terms of learning. What is your opinion on this?
I think this is a problem of our culture. To my understanding, maybe all of the East Asian people are influenced by Confucianism. People often get shied, obey to the seniors, and just listen to authoritative people. I personally think the Confucianism, being philosophy, can also be the obstacle to the scientific research sometimes. This is just my personal opinion.
Q. Recently, Chinese universities of natural sciences and engineering are getting spotlights for their academic and technological achievements. What is your personal opinion on this?
I think Chinese universities are not the only universities making great progress in the research area. Koreans have traditions like studying string theory, gravity, and cosmology which is interesting in this side of the world. The world is not only occupied by the U.S.. In East Asia, Korea, China, and Japan are considered to be a ‘scientific triangle region.’ Therefore, I would say not only China, but also Korea and Japan are making progress. Especially, Japanese has a good research tradition. Japanese inherits their work from one generation to another. Over 100 years they have developed this kind of education. They believe that the education is the most of important way to develop the whole nation, which worked as a catalyst to establish such unique tradition. However, I think nowadays Korea and China are working hard to catch up. (Smile)