Reflections (27/02/2010):

Prof C. N. Yang is famous for being the first Chinese to receive a Nobel Prize, together with T. D. Lee. He is very famous in China, and a lot of Chinese students in Singapore have come to the lecture just to see him. Personally, I did not quite understand the theoretical concepts he talked about during the lectures, I only got the part that he explained the parlour game algebraically to show the complete agreement between mathematical manipulation and experimental results. This is quite an experience as I should have done research on the Internet before coming for the lecture to get a better understanding.
Nonetheless, I was inspired by his talk. Actually, Prof Yang did not spend much time on the Dirac’s game and the theories behind, he devoted much of the time telling us stories about eminent physicists in his time such as Albert Einstein, Paul Dirac, Enrico Fermi, Werner Heisenberg and many others. He also shared with us his life experiences. In the Q & A sessions, a lot of people came up to ask him questions, and I was impressed by his answer to this question: “ What do you think are the areas that young physicists of today can contribute and make significant discoveries, as a lot of the workings of the Universe have been revealed in the last century?” His answer was “Progress in different areas occurs at different times. The first few decades of the 20th century were the time of progress in fundamental physics, with thousands of physicists and scientists working in this area. Now it seems discouraging for young physicists to dig more in this area to make revolutionary discoveries like Einstein did (unless one thinks that he/she is good enough to do what thousands of brilliant scientists have worked on for a long time). However, there are more and more questions in other areas awaiting discoveries and young and fervent physicists can always create progress.” I learned that there is no reason to be demoralized by impressive achievements of others before you, if you are keen and hard-working, there are always rooms for you to contribute and excel.
Throughout his lecture, I could see all the audience behaving in a very well-mannered and respectful way, even though I could tell many also found it very difficult to follow his explanation of the game. This reminds me of one of Bill Gates’ 11 rules of life, that “The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself. “ Because Prof Yang has worked so hard and has contributed so much, everyone respects him – the kind of respect that you cannot expect the world to give you if you haven’t accomplished something.

Hoang Thi Hanh Lan 10S7D

It was indeed an inspiring and motivating lecture. Being humorous and clear in explanation, Professor Yang Chen Ning managed to attract attention of the audiences by transforming complex Mathematics and Physics to something easy to understand. The talk reveals the subtle relationship between Physics and Mathematics, for instance, the relationship between algebraic structure and quantum topology, providing reverie space to even amateurs like us.
As usual, Prof Yang started his talk by introducing several illustrious contemporary physicists that made significant revolutionary contributions to modern physics like Fermi, Schrodinger, Heisenberg, Dirac and others; it is known that one common area of these great figures is none other than their strong thirst for knowledge and inquisitiveness that never ends.
He then went on to explain the agreement between algebraic solution of parlor game and the corresponding physics results. For example, in Dirac's game, the game of string entanglement, every single orientation of string entanglement can be represented by different alphabets, an example would be A representing a clockwise rotation of two adjacent strings by 180° and A-1 for its inverse, A-1A=AA-1=1, since it attains its original position after performing A and A-1. Further exploration leads us to the conclusion that A4=1 and A2!=1. These findings serves its crucial usage in determining states in quantum theory. It's clearly shown that Mathematics and Physics are highly interdependent to each other and that Physics, with the help of Mathematics is the key to the understanding of physical phenomenon in our life.
Using the algebraic solution of Dirac's game, and with the help of topology, the mathematics of QM shows that a Fermion rotated 360° does not come back to itself. It acquires a phase of -1, which explains the movement of neutron through a single crystal semiconductor.Here, he also illustrates on the increasing importance of topology in physics, acting as a general mathematical model in dealing with important theories such as Dirac’s Game, Knots and Braids, Continuous Groups, General Relativity and Fiber Bundles.
This is the legend of 20th century, for being the first Chinese to gain the prestigious Nobel Prize, for being the first man in the clarification of weak energy, for his unassuming attitude, for being a caring husband, for being a great professor, a committing researcher. This 2-hour-long lecture is way too short to lift the mystic veil of contemporary physics, but at least, it is a brilliant introduction to me. It opens the door of Mathematical Physics for me, which sets me thinking about the usage of Mathematics in Physics, and most importantly, create the awareness that although Mathematics and Physics runs along their own concepts and maxims, they are ingeniously interrelated, so deep that it is impossible to separate them.
It was indeed an unforgettable experience, an inspiring one that drives me on.
How Peng Hui 09S6K