Scientists take giant leap forward in 2005
By Jia Hepeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-01-17 05:42
Chinese scientists and technicians have achieved remarkable progress in the
past year, according to the 500 Chinese academicians who voted for the 10 top
scientific achievements in China and the world last year.
The Shenzhou-VI manned spaceship, which returned to the Earth on October 17
after 115 hours' space travel, has been ranked as the most important achievement
Chinese scientists made last year.
It came in the wake of the manned Shenzhou-V's 24-hour voyage to the Earth's
orbit in 2003.
According to Bai Chunli, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of
Sciences(CAS), 111 independent innovations in four major aspects enabled the
success of the space mission.
Bai unveiled the results of the Chinese scientists' selection of last year's
top 10 scientific events in China yesterday.
Aside from the milestone, the completion of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway and the
creation of the first 64-digit CPU (central process unit) also ranked among
2005's scientific and engineering attainments.
These top three achievements were followed by Chinese scientists' first
landing on the highest point of the Antarctic ice cover, the publication of the
China Plant Encyclopedia, Chinese scientists' breakthrough in controlling a
single molecule's self rotation, the latest accurate measure of the height of
the world's highest peak Qomolangma, and digging 5,158 metres underground in the
The invention of a nanotechnology-based drug carrier, which is one billionth
of a metre, and the high-resolution digitalized virtual man completed the 10
"The selected achievements are the result of multi-disciplined researches and
they have contributed to national science and development, as well as bringing
utmost benefits to human life," Bai said.
The Qinghai-Tibet Railway has been an example of how scientists helped
promote the national development, according to Du Xiangwan, vice-president of
the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
More than 1,000 scientists and engineers worked in the extremely harsh
environment along the Qinghai-Tibetan line to solve a range of problems, such as
the instalment of rails in frozen conditions, power maintenance of the train, as
well as the protection of the environment and fragile ecological system.
Chinese scientists have also contributed to the international science
development, as revealed by some of the 10 greatest achievements.
The dig underground to 5,158 metres was part of a joint international
programme to explore the secrets of the Earth's crust.
Four years into the project, Chinese scientists worked the fastest and
tunnelled the deepest among all the 20 sub-programmes.
The scientific discoveries made through the project have enabled scientists
to better understand the composition of the Earth's crust, the layout of
different minerals and the possible ways of seismic movement, Bai said.
Last year, Chinese scientists also launched the massive project to measure
the height of Qomolangma. They looked into the glacier conditions and carried
out a metrology study on the peak.
"This was not only a project to simply identify the height of a mountain in
China, but also a major collaborative work to reveal the correlations between
global climate change and Qomolangma's situation," said Bai.
After five months of collaborative work of scientists from different sectors,
it was declared in October that the world's highest mountain is 8,844.43 metres
high. The previous measurement made by Chinese in 1975 reported that the height
of the peak was 8,848.13 metres.
Scientists said the world's highest peak has become shorter partly as a
result of more accurate measuring, and partly because the global warming has
thawed ice in the glacier of Qomolangma.
The project was significant in global warming research and the corresponding
changes it brings, said Bai.
While tackling major scientific and engineering projects with heavy
investment from the government, scientists also made some remarkable progress in
small scale and independent research projects.
"The big collective science and technology programmes involve hundreds of
excellent scientists and huge investment. Compared with them, our work, based on
our daily research, marks the more independent innovation of the Chinese science
community," Chen Lidong, deputy director of the Shanghai Institute of Ceramics,
CAS, told China Daily.
Scientists at Chen's institute, led by Shi Jianlin, have developed a new
nanotechnology-based drug carrier, which can accurately deliver drugs to human
Shi and his colleagues published their research results in the
internationally leading journal Angew Chemistry in Germany in August last year.
The diameter of the drug delivery carrier is only 200 nano metres and it can
pass most human blood vessels, according to Shi.
The researchers have designed an accurate time for the outer layer of the
drug carrier to dissolve. Only when the drug carrier arrives at the correct
organ or area, will medicine in the carrier be released.
Although Chinese scientists achieved great progress last year, along with the
rest of the world, they lag behind in basic research, technical equipment and
research originality, Du told China Daily.
He said it showed China faced a tough challenge in making the nation an
innovation-based country in 15 years, as proposed by President Hu Jintao last
year at the National Science and Technology Congress.
Chen said that the major innovations made by the Chinese scientists in single
research projects are still too few.
The research capacities of the individual Chinese scientists and institutes
remain insufficient and need further development, he added.
Chinese view of world's science attainments
Chinese academicians also selected the world's 10 major scientific
achievements, to offer a Chinese perspective of the world's development in
science and engineering:
Huygens space detector's landing on the sixth satellite of Saturn;
The striking of the US spacecraft Deep Impact on to the surface of Comet
The new material developed by the US scientists to replace transistor
The first photography of a planet outside the Solar System
The international HapMap project to complete a catalogue of human genetic
The Australian scientists' work to "freeze" light waves for up to one second;
The US researchers' development of high-efficiency fuel battery;
The super nano-material storage equipment;
The production of quark plasma by US scientists;
The control of single molecular movement by French scientists.
(China Daily 01/17/2006 page5)