‘I love to be with the young people, so when Principal Wang Peidong extended an invitation for me, I decided to come to Xi’an’. The prologue made by American winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics Professor Douglas Osheroff on 30 July narrowed the distance between our students and scientist. Students of The High School Affiliated to Xi’an Jiaotong University really experienced ‘zero’distance dialogue through listending to the lecture, asking questions and symposium.
‘Research what I am interested in. ’
Professor Douglas Osheroff said that he was curious about everything when he was a little boy. He used to take apart his toys to check, such as electrombile and electronic toys. One time, one of his toys exploded because of high electric capacity caused by more rotation number. He fell down on the floor by the blast of the explosion. This is the charm of the experiment. When he was in the university, he used to research astronomical phenomena, using infrared telescope to observe the Galaxy, and he felt it was so beautiful. He wasn’t interested in it later because he couldn’t do the experiment. So when he pursued the Doctor’s Degree, he transferred to the experimental physics research.
Physics experiment for helium-3 fascinated him, so he used to work till 2:00 to 3:00 in the morning. He started to rebuild the experimental instruments because he was not satisfied with them. ‘Scientific research must be what you are interested in, that you thought meaningful and valuable, otherwise, you couldn’t spend several years, even a few decades on it’, Professor Douglas Osheroff suggested that students must learn what you are interested and that you thought meaningful.
‘I am not a clever man, only a good experimentalist’
One student asked:’you were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, which you depended on your talent or your efforts?’ Professor Douglas Osheroff said frankly:’ I am not a clever man, only a good experimentalist’.
Professor Douglas Osheroff said that you would confront many difficulties and defeat during experiment, by the way, misoperation could cause failure too. Everything can’t go smoothly all the time, and be simple, otherwise, other people could have done it earlier, it wouldn’t be you who got the Nobel Prize. So, strong-will is very important. You have to find why you failed. Furthermoe, you need to be away from people to do the scientific experiment. Some people may not insist at the last. ‘One of my colleagues gave up the research because his wife always asked him to leave the laboratory earlier. Of course, discovery of superfluidity in helium-3 is not for the Nobel Prize, I am only the lucky man.’
‘Asian education needs to attach importance to develop students’ mind.’
One journalist asked: ‘What do you think about Chinese Olympiad Mathematics? Do American secondary students learn it?’Maybe different education environment or the translation problem, Professor Douglas Osheroff didn’t answer this question directly, but what he and his wife, Professor Liu Xijiang, said made us think more.
Professor Douglas Osheroff said that competition is the smart game, but competition doesn’t equal to research, and the winners may not engage in research. American secondary students start to learn the scientific courses, usually doing some exploration experiment and taking part in international competition. Of course, American students going to the universities hope to find the good job, but many students learn according to what he or she is interested in.
Professor Liu Xijiang added: ‘Education systems of east asia and southeast asia are traditional, so it should attach an importance to developing students’mind. I hope the secondary education could change this situation, making everyone could learn in accordance with his or her interests.’
‘Pollution is not caused by science.’
One of students asked: ’Science facilitates human being, but at the same time, it causes problems such as environmental pollution and so on. What do you think about the advantages and disadvantages of the science ’
Professor Douglas Osheroff didn’t agree to this idea. He thought that the essence of science is researching the nature. What this student said belonged to the application issue. Pollution is not caused by the science, but the human being’s ever-growing material desire. If you would like to lessen the environmental pollution, you have to control the human being’s growing material desire. Resolving the environmental pollution needs a course, such as dilution air and birth control etc.
He thought that physics is physics, and philosophy is philosophy. The research ways for physics and philosophy are totally different. One might be a master in his own special field. Please don’t waste much more time on things that doesn’t work.