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Believe It or Not, He’s Eighty

13 November 2006

Dr. Tsung-Dao Lee (left): Let's be the best matchmakers, shall we?

Dr Lee is chatting with China’s maestro artist Wu Guanzhong (吴冠中)

The happily grinning man on the left in the photo has turned 80. Can you believe that?

He’s undoubtedly a Longevity Star (老寿星). And he’s not just any other LS, but the world renowned scientist. The fact that he looks so young and so energetic may have something to do with him being a top expert on high energy neutrino physics – just a guess. But what is certain is, yes, he’s Dr. Tsung-Dao Lee (Li Zhengdao 李政道), the chief architect of the solvable model of quantum field theory, known as the Lee Model, and the 1957 Nobel Price winner in physics.

Born and grew up in Shanghai, he is, like maestro architect I. M. Pei, a Suzhou native. So it makes sense that at the party organised by Tsinghua University on Saturday celebrating his 80th birthday, the maestro scientist talked about symmetry violation science in the art of the scenic windows on the buildings and verandas of the Suzhou gardens.

The traditional Chinese culture, as Dr. Lee has observed, uses artistic presentation to express the essence of science and philosophy, and pursues a harmonious state of union between science, arts and philosophy. It is, he believes, also the very objective of the modern science and arts.

To start with, as one of today’s foremost and pioneering scientists in the world, his knowledge of and understanding about the ancient Chinese culture is outstanding. So is his artistic comprehension. In this regard, he is in the best position to bring an inter-disciplines dialogue between the science and the arts, the modern and the tradition, the Western culture and the Eastern civilisation, and to create a blending base for them.

(Original photo by 王嘉宁)

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