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Scientist focuses on smog and micro-world

By Wang Kaihao | China Daily | Updated: 2014-04-02 08:38

Scientist focuses on smog and micro-world

A picture of smog particles under the microscope taken by Zhang Chao [Photo provided to China Daily]

Scientist focuses on smog and micro-world

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It has been two years since China Daily last interviewed 31-year-old Zhang Chao. The Beijing-based micrograph enthusiast still wears the same hair style, even the same coat.

But one thing is very different: He's become a celebrity in cyberspace almost overnight, after his pictures, which depict what the rampant smog in Beijing looks like under his microscope, spread like a virus on China's major micro-blogging site Sina Weibo, since he posted them last Friday. Now the media is hounding him for interviews.

"Why do I become famous when I took pictures of the smog?" he asks with a wry smile. "I have taken numerous pictures of beautiful nature whenever I have spare time, but there are no more than 10 interview requests for me every year before. Now, I have to answer dozens of phone calls from media every day.

"But I only gained 2,000 more followers over the weekend. I guess the micro blog is not as popular as before," he says, jokingly.

On Monday morning, a camera crew from a TV station based in southern Hunan province even took a flight to Beijing just to record how Zhang takes pictures of the Beijing's most-talked about feature: the floating enemies in the air.

The process is not complicated: He puts microscope slides on his windowsill and collects the samples covered by fallen dust after 10 hours.

Zhang's apartment is on the eighth floor, which he says is perfect for capturing the densest levels of smog.

As a Beijing native, Zhang explains his original purpose is to "deconstruct" Beijing's smog and unveil its shroud of mystery.

"People have higher and higher standards for the environment," he says. "When I was a child, I was annoyed by the frequent sandstorms, so I feel Beijing's air seems much better now all in all because there are hardly any sandstorms in recent years. Now, we've noticed PM2.5, which has long been neglected."

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