About the Hong Kong Laureate Forum

Welcome to the January 2022 issue of the newsletter of the Hong Kong Laureate Forum!

The HKLF has successfully held the first and second chapters of the "Prelude to the Inaugural Forum" series (the Prelude series) from September to November. In December, the third chapter of the series, "EXPLORING NEW HORIZONS" also started. The HKLF, together with local scientists / research teams in Hong Kong, arranged for high school students to visit laboratories and have dialogue sessions with them. The event aims to let students learn more about scientists' real life and working environment, latest research facilities in Hong Kong, real laboratory operation and the ups and downs that scientists have gone through in their research journey through in-person experience sharing and Q&A session and hence to spark their interest in scientific research. The participating students and teachers were all delighted to be able to visit local laboratories and learn more about the scientific research development situation in Hong Kong.

In January, the COVID pandemic development in Hong Kong became unstable, we regrettably had to cancel or postpone some of the visits and dialogue sessions. However, the HKLF is very grateful to the students and teachers who took part in the event. Also, a huge thanks to the local scientists / research teams for their continuous support to the HKLF. They include Prof Tom CHEUNG, Associate Professor of Division of Life Science of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Dr Sean HON, Assistant Professor of Department of Mathematics of Hong Kong Baptist University, Dr Eric SZE, Associate Professor of School of Science and Technology of Hong Kong Metropolitan University and Dr Patrick TANG, Assistant Professor of Department of Anatomical and Cellular Pathology of The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Event highlights from the first three chapters of the Prelude series have been uploaded to our website and YouTube channel.

In addition, an exhibition featuring "Women in Science" at the Atrium of Xiqu Centre, West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong scheduled on 11-14 February 2022 and the fourth chapter of the Prelude series, "WONDER WOMEN IN SCIENCE", scheduled on 8 March 2022 to dovetail with the "International Women’s Day" will also be deferred due to the recent development of COVID pandemic.

Latest arrangement about the HKLF’s events will be shared on our website and social media, stay tuned!

Last but not least, the Year of the Tiger is approaching, the HKLF wishes you good fortune and have a great year ahead!

History of the Hong Kong Observatory from World War II

In the article on "Early History of the Hong Kong Observatory" published in the July 2021 issue of the HKLF Newsletter, we introduced the history of the Observatory from the time around the establishment of the Observatory to World War II. We now introduce the history and development of the Observatory since World War II.

Test of The War

Hong Kong came under the attack of the Japanese army on the morning of 8 December 1941 and was occupied by the Japanese on 25 December 1941. The Observatory was forced to suspend its service. During the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong from 1941 to 1945, the Observatory Headquarters was mainly used for operating two anti-aircraft guns. According to recovered records, weather observations were conducted by Japanese weather corps soldiers stationed at the Observatory Headquarters. Although the Observatory buildings suffered only superficial damages, almost all the equipment was removed.

During the Japanese occupation period, the then Director, Mr B D EVANS, was interned at the Stanley Internment Camp. The then Assistant Director, Mr G S P HEYWOOD and his colleague, Mr L STARBUCK, were imprisoned at the Sham Shui Po Prisoner-of-War Camp. Despite the harsh environment, Mr Evans continued to maintain intermittent weather observations manually or by using simple equipment. These wartime meteorological data were recorded on ledger sheet, letter paper, wrapper of cigarettes pack, and back of animal cards that came with canned biscuits.


Dr CHENG Cho-ming, Director of the Hong Kong Observatory
Mr SHUN Chi-ming, Former Director of the Hong Kong Observatory
Dr LEE Tsz-cheung, Senior Scientific Officer, Hong Kong Observatory

January 2022

The Twin Prime Conjecture and the Polymath Project

There are math problems that are thoroughly incomprehensible to the layman – the Riemann hypothesis needs a fair amount of sophisticated math to explain, for example. And then there are those that even a ten-year-old could understand. The famous Twin Prime Conjecture is definitely in the latter category – conjectured by Alphonse de Polignac in the 19th century, it states that there are infinitely many pairs of prime numbers that differ by two – hence the name "twin" prime. For example, 3 and 5 are twin primes, and so are 71 and 73. As we get to larger numbers, prime numbers show up less frequently. However, we have also found ridiculously big twin primes – the current record being 2996863034895 × 21290000 – 1 and 2996863034895 × 21290000 + 1, with 388,342 decimal digits – which leads us to believe that there might be an infinite number of twin primes; no matter how large you go, you might always expect a pair of twin primes ahead.

There isn't very much to say about the problem, but more interesting is how progress has been made in recent years. People might think of math research as a solitary affair, imagining a mathematician locking himself / herself up in a room until he / she find a solution. And certainly there are two remarkable people involved in this story – Yitang ZHANG and James MAYNARD – but at the heart of a lot of progress sits a huge collaborative project called the Polymath Project.


Sonia Choy
Student Editor, Science Focus
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Tsang Cheuk Hei
Graphic Designer, Science Focus
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

January 2022