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Forum hailing basic science kicks off

By Zhang Zhouxiang and Chen Yuehua | | Updated: 2023-07-16 20:32
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Shing-Tung Yau, chairman of International Congress of Basic Science, delivers a speech at the opening ceremony of the first session of ICBS on Sunday. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Basic science plays a crucial role in China’s development, with mathematics of particular importance, as it lays the foundation for science, according to Shing-Tung Yau, a renowned mathematician and chairman of the International Congress of Basic Science.

Vowing to serve as a bridge between core global scientists to ensure the smoother interaction of the world, Yau made his comments at the opening ceremony of the first session of the ICBS on Sunday in Beijing. The event, which is being held under the theme of “Advancing Science for Humanity”, will be held from July 16 to 28.

The opening ceremony included a lifetime award ceremony for extraordinary scientists whose work has been both outstanding and innovative and who have, over the course of the past 30 or more years, created fundamental change in their area of expertise.

Among them were David Mumford, a mathematician from the United States known for his work in algebraic geometry and for his research into vision and pattern theory. He received the Fields Medal, an award given by the International Mathematical Union to mathematicians under age 40, in 1974.

Mumford agreed with Yau on the importance of fundamental science to the progress of society.

“Fundamental sciences such as pure mathematics lay the foundation, then applied sciences do the modeling for engineers to build the infrastructure and devices so vital to our daily life,” he told China Daily in an exclusive interview.

Yau expressed his hope that as a gathering of top global scientists, the ICBS would help boost the interests of young domestic scientists in knowing what their global colleagues are doing, and what they can do to catch up.

“I’m glad some young scholars have been able to talk face-to-face with the renowned scholars whose papers they have been reading,” he said. He also expressed his hope of helping more young people appreciate the beauty of science, and encouraged them to pursue scientific truth as a top honor.

Having visited the country three times, Mumford said that he has met many talented Chinese scholars and is glad to see that they are receiving more support.

David Gross, a theoretical physicist from the US, said that the congress is not only a good opportunity for young scholars and researchers to talk to senior professors, but also a chance for them to talk to young colleagues because “they are the future, those with whom we will work in the coming 50 years”.

Wan Gang, vice-chairman of the 13th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee and president of the China Association for Science and Technology, called for combined efforts for the prosperity of fundamental science and the creation of a better life for all.

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