IAS Newsletter - Sep 2015 - page 6

IAS Chatroom
Sep 2015
The idea of invisible cloaking is an all-time hit in
science fictions and movies. When do you think it
will come to reality?
It is already a reality - but just partly. Cloaking itself
is not so important but the ideas to manipulate light
or other waves can inspire more applications which
are not limited to cloaking. For example, the
mechanism of cloaking can be used to develop
invisible optical cables and three-dimensional video
by making the cables invisible. Another application
in physics is constructing artificial black holes. Since
light cannot escape from a black hole, it would be
hard to experiment with them. However, with
artificial black holes, the light is trapped and allows
physicists to conduct their experiments. In addition,
cloaking can also be used for protection from
tsunamis by manipulating the ocean waves.
Nonetheless, invisibility also creates ethical
challenges. Just like the Ring of Gyges in Plato’s
“Republic” and the One Ring from “Lord of the
Rings,” the ring owner is granted along with the
power of invisibility the opportunity to do bad
things. Anything in science can be used for good or
for bad. I think scientists have the responsibility to
warn people about the potential negative impacts.
Do you watch sci-fi movies or read fictions to try
to get some inspirations?
I watch movies and read fictions for entertainment
only. I really like Jules Verne’s “From the Earth to
the Moon,” which began as science fiction and
became a reality. It is possible that many scenes
from sci-fi movies will eventually become reality.
People may not be able to solve the problem
immediately but years later, they will find a way.
Which moment of your life do you enjoy most?
I really enjoy playing with my grandchildren.
Children are always curious. They don’t have
restrictions. Adults could learn a lot from children.
To me, inspiring children’s creativity is more
important than teaching them knowledge.
Sometimes people place too much emphasis on
learning information even when playing games.
Games help to encourage children to use their
creativity. Children will learn most effectively by
developing their natural creativity.
Mathematics is a broad-based subject with many
sub-disciplines. To those new postgraduate
students who want to pursue their research in a
mathematical field, what would you recommend
them to choose as an area of interest?
Mathematics is very broad and it is impossible to
learn everything. It is very important to choose an
advisor who can give you guidance on solving the
problems in his or her particular field. So an institution
that provides many different lectures and classes is
critical for students to find out what they like. But
the most important point is that pursuit is more
important than the objective. When you try to solve
a problem, you will develop techniques and learn
something new. You may not solve the problem in
the end but you will still learn something and
develop your abilities.
"...pursuit is more important
than the objective. When you try
to solve a problem, you will
develop techniques and learn
something new.
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