NATIONAL CHENG KUNG UNIVERSITY, TAINAN, TAIWAN
BANYAN
Volume 7 Issue 1 - December 19, 2008
Commentary
LING-LIE CHAU
"ALMOST EVERY PROBLEM HE TOUCHED EVENTUALLY TURNED INTO GOLD"
Article Digest
Ching-Ting Lee
High frequency and low frequency noise of AlGaN/GaN metal-oxide-semiconductor high-electron mobility transistors with gate insulator grown using photoelectrochemical oxidation method
Chia-Rong Lee
Two-dimensional grating structure induced by light-field of single laser beam in a dye-doped cholesteric liquid crystal film
Yueh-Min Huang
VLAN-based Secure Group Communication over Wireless Ad Hoc Networks
SHU-CHUAN CHEN
QUADRATIC DISTANCES ON PROBABILITIES: A UNIFIED FOUNDATION
 
Hui-Tzu Min
Reviewer Stances and Writer Perceptions in EFL Peer Review Training
News Release
News
Delta Electronics Founder and Chairman Bruce Cheng Endows NCKU with NT$250 Million ($7.5 Million US) to Build the NCKU-Delta Building
News
Prof. Ching-Ting Lee, Dean, College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences Elevated as an IEEE Fellow
News
President Yvan Guindon of Royal Society of Canada and Vice-President of Research Mona Nemer of University of Ottawa Visited NCKU
Opportunities
Activities
Editorial Group
"ALMOST EVERY PROBLEM HE TOUCHED EVENTUALLY TURNED INTO GOLD"
LING-LIE CHAU

Physics Department, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA
chau@physics.ucdavis.edu

The title is a quote from my "Yang's Pyramid" published in the festschrift celebrating Professor Yang's 70th birthday, «Chen Ning Yang, a Great Physicist of the Twentieth entury» . I likened the collection of his scientific works to a pyramid. As time goes on, hidden treasures continue to be discovered, adding to the well-known brilliant ones. This observation of mine continues to bear out in an impressive way. For the celebration of his 85th birthday, I will highlight recent developments of such remarkable achievements and make an attempt to identify the reasons for them, with the backdrop of my own perspectives.


1. Introduction
On this happy occasion of celebrating the 85th birthday of Professor Yang, I would like to wish him, and us, many, many more.a
The title is a quote from my "Yang's Pyramid" - published in the festschrift celebrating Professor Yang's 70th birthday,Chen Ning Yang, a Great Physicist of the Twentieth Century, 47-48. Many recent new developments continue to con…rm this observation. Also, happily I found that Professor Yang likes it. Among all that has been written about Professor Yang's accomplishments, this quote from my two-page essay was the one used by Professor John Toll, the then President of Washington College, on the occasion of Professor Yang being honored with the Honorary Degree in Science, see Fig. 1, and printed in their Magazine, Summer 1999 issue. I feel like having hit a jackpot.
Fig. 1. The photo is from the Washington College Magazine, Summer 1999 issue, taken by Jim Graham of Washington College '81 on the occasion of Professor Yang (6th from the right) being honored with the Honorary Degree in Science and Mr. J.F. Kennedy Jr. (2nd from the right) giving the commencement speech. Fourth from the right is Professor John Toll, the then President of Washington College. His presidency (1965-1978) at SUNY, Stony Brook had much to do with Professor Yang's move in 1965 from Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton to become the Albert Einstein Professor of Physics of SUNY, Stony Brook and the first director of the now C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics.


a The day before this conference, at the check-in counter of the conference hotel, Swissotel Merchant Court, Singapore, I saw Lay-Nam Chang and his wife. I greeted them, "Great to see you! Long time no see." He said, "Yah, a long time, it must be more than 10 years." I replied, "Weren't you at Yang 80 in Beijin?" He said, "You are right, I was there." So I said, "Well, it was 5 years since we had seen each other." We all laughed and agreed that we would be lost without the get-togethers for Professor Yang's birthday celebrations.

It is my extraordinary good luck and privilege to know and to be men-tored by a great physicist like Professor Yang. During 1969-1986 I was fortunate to be close to his institute, now the C.N. Yang Institute of Theoretical Physics, SUNY Stony Brook. I learned a lot from him through osmosis around his institute and from direct contacts. He was friendly and generous with discussions. I have three copies of his Selected Papers, 1945-1980, with Commentary, one at my office and two at home - one of which is the original hardbound copy with his handwritten comments, Fig. 2. These comments reveal more about his friendliness than the worth of my "valuable advice and criticism".
Fig. 2. Professor Yang's handwritten comments on Chau's copy of his«Selected Papers, 1945-1980, With Commentary». English translation of the comments: «Ling-Lie: Thank you for your "valuable advice and criticism". Chen Ning, '83 summer.»

Professor Yang also initiated my life-transforming move from pure research institution experience at the Institute for Advanced Study (1967-1969) and Brookhaven National Laboratory (1969-1986), to university experience at UC Davis. (On the occasion of the 75th Anniversary in 1983, UC Davis invited Professor Yang to visit and asked him for a list of people to consider for hiring in the Physics Department. He suggested two names,of which mine was one. Thanks to my colleagues at Davis, they chose to go after me and obtained thirteen reference letters for my hiring.) My life has been enriched by the two experiences, in an ideal order in spacetime.

I hope that what I write here is helpful to those who would like to learn a successful way of doing physics from Professor Yang. I thank the organizers for this enjoyable and intellectually stimulating conference.b


b 2007 is the 50th anniversaries of many important events. It is the 50th anniversary of Professor Yang's Nobel Prize with Professor Lee, and of the publications of several of his important papers, some of which I will discuss. 2007 is also the 50th anniversary of the Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) paper for superconductivity, of the launching of Sputnik by the Soviet Union, of the Broadway premier production of Bernstein's West Side Story, etc. On a much more minute scale, 2007 is also the 50th anniversary of my graduation from the Tainan Girls School, which I had completely forgotten till my classmates organized our reunion. It was at the Tainan Girls School where our physics teacher, Mr. Jin-Chuen Shen, got me hooked on physics. I still remember how happy I was when I thought that I understood the centrifugal force. 2007 also marks the first year of my new life as a professor emerita. Coming to this conference and giving this talk gave me a valuable opportunity to reflect and to plan ahead as a physicist. I hope that you all will forgive my indulgence in chatting more than probably I should.

2007 happens also to be the year that the Berkeley Center for Theoretical Physics (BCTP) held its offcial opening symposium. The funding of it was initiated by the donation from Jane and Robert Wilson in memory of their friendship with Oppenheimer. Many interesting talks were given. It is particularly heart-warming to see that the photos of my other two mentors, Professor Chew (my Ph.D. thesis adviser) and Professor Mandelstam, put together with that of Oppenheimer in a small gallery at BCTP. My deep gratitude to Chew and to Mandelstam will be written about in the future.


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