Scientists discuss how to advance science and technology in the new era
Four scientists shared their thoughts on how to best understand and practice the spirit of scientists in the new era and how to promote scientific and technological innovation.
On Nov. 17, the State Council Information Office held a press conference themed "Upholding Scientist Spirit To Advance Science and Technology In The New Era." Attending the conference were Yao Tandong, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and honorary director of the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research (ITP); Yuan Yaxiang, an academician at the CAS and researcher of the Academy of Mathematics and Systems Science of the CAS; Guo Shaojun, a professor at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering of Peking University, and Huo Shouliang, a researcher at the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences (CRAES).
The spirit of scientists is the wealth accumulated through scientific and technological work over a long period of practice, said Huo Shouliang. Huo added that to promote the spirit of scientists in the new era, we should care about our family and country, care for the people, and uphold the spirit of solidarity and cooperation.
"China faces structural, complex and long-term ecological and environmental problems. This requires environmental science and technology personnel to take bold steps in innovation and making breakthroughs, work hard to solve some of the core issues in the fight against pollution and support the improvement of China's ecological environment," Huo said.
In Yao Tandong's view, the spirit of scientists, regardless of their nationality, is driven by curiosity and the daring to raise questions. In addition, long-term persistence in science, the ability to endure loneliness, and the spirit of teamwork are also necessary.
Guo Shaojun hoped that the spirit of scientists can be implanted in everyone's heart so that they can understand scientific research as a trend and more people can engage in scientific practices. "The spirit of scientists in the new era should follow the example of the older generation; we should be willing to contribute to the prosperity of the motherland, the revitalization of the nation, and the happiness of the people. At the same time, we must nurture the spirit of teaching and educating people, while being trailblazers," said Guo.
Yuan Yaxiang said that the most important reason why the spirit of scientists can inspire younger generations is patriotic dedication, adding, science knows no borders, but scientists do. Therefore, they should try to be indifferent to fame and wealth and not pursue honor or status but do what they want to do for the country's development. Yuan emphasized that, especially in basic research and mathematical research, the best way to carry forward the spirit of scientists is to keep calm and do valuable work.
"When we do research, in fact, the most powerful motivation is not utilitarianism, but curiosity," Yuan said, emphasizing that curiosity is a basic human trait and the most primitive, powerful, and strongest motivation behind basic research. Some groundbreaking scientific and technological discoveries are made from scratch and often rely on basic research rather than applied research.
In response to some of the problems and shortcomings of basic research and some core technologies, Yuan said bluntly: "We should not be too eager for quick success and instant benefits, or immediately make up for what is missing." He pointed out that China needs to think first about why these shortcomings exist. While attaching importance to the technical engineering projects in international competitions, Yuan called for greater attention to conducting basic research at home so as to fundamentally improve the current environment.
In Guo Shaojun's view, theories are the foundation of innovation. To solve core technological problems, Chinese scientists need to find specific and outstanding innovative ideas and solutions before they can continue to make breakthroughs at the technological level. Breaking through the barriers between basic research and applied research is vital to solving these key technology problems in the future.
The Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China proposed that China will uphold the central role of innovation in the modernization drive and turn self-reliance and self-strengthening in science and technology into strategic support for national development.
Yao explained that information science, material science, biological science, and environmental science, all have reached an urgent stage in need of technological breakthroughs. "Without these technological breakthroughs, you will always be in a primitive state of labor, which may not allow for easy attainment of major scientific breakthroughs."
Scientific and technological innovation, Yao added, must put emphasis on the interdisciplinarity. Through the latest research results and methods among scientists in different fields, we will promote the in-depth research of major scientific and technological innovation issues.
With regards to the field of ecological environment, Huo Shouliang stated that it is necessary to achieve regional coordination, balance, and sustainable development through scientific innovation of systems. "Only through vigorous scientific and technological innovation can we make breakthroughs on core technologies such as pollution control. Only then we can embark on a path of green development, circular development, and low-carbon development, and basically achieve the goal of a 'Beautiful China' by 2035," he said.