- Language Tips
Zheng Zhemin, one of the two members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering who won the State Top Scientific and Technological Awards on Friday, has been called a legend of explosives in China.
As a scientist who specialized in explosive mechanics, he made a significant contribution to the field. Because of his help, China's armor development has been greatly improved.
Zheng, 89, also known as Cheng Chemin, obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from Tsinghua University in 1947, and earned his Master of Science and PhD from the California Institute of Technology under the guidance of Qian Xuesen, also known as Hsue-shen Tsien.
Zheng returned to China in 1955. He joined the Chinese Academy of Sciences, proposed the basic theories for explosive mechanics, and developed the technologies of explosive forming and explosive treatment of underwater soft foundations.
He is an academician of both the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
Zheng also is a top researcher at the Institute of Mechanics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and also a foreign member of the United States National Academy of Engineering.
His theories about explosive mechanics have been applied in solving practical problems in engineering projects.
"I am not an engineer to only help solve practical problems, but more importantly, as a scientist, to find out concepts and theories through these problems, and make contributions to future similar problems," Zheng said.
"We (engineering scientists) are not employed by industries. We are scientists, not engineers. We need to figure out scientific questions from engineering problems. I like to visit factories and talk to workers and engineers to collect questions. But our main job is to study the problems and find out rules," Zheng added.
Studying explosive mechanics is dangerous research. When asked about how to improve safety factors, Zheng said simply, "Follow the rules".
"I never saw detonators before the 1960s. I was a little scared at first, but as I worked more with the detonators, I got more nerves," Zheng said.
"Luckily, we never lost lives during my research," he added.
Even though he's almost 90 years old, Zheng still goes to work every morning on workdays.
"Now I am thinking about drawing a new framework from past works. Though I don't have much time left, I wish I could do something to deserve the top awards," Zheng said.
(China Daily 01/19/2013 page4)