About the Hong Kong Laureate Forum

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

The Council of the Hong Kong Laureate Forum (the HKLF) is pleased to announce that the inaugural Hong Kong Laureate Forum will take place on 13-18 November 2023 at the Hong Kong Science Park. The Secretariat of the HKLF is in the process of contacting all stakeholders on the new dates of the Forum, especially Shaw Laureates and more than 200 young scientists who have been selected for the inaugural Forum in February. Stay tuned to our website and social media for latest information of the inaugural Forum.

In June, we held a week-long digital photo competition coined "A Photo A Day Challenge" which aimed to enhance the public's engagement with their surroundings as well as encourage them to pay more attention to the science around us. The challenge ended on 27 June and we received nearly 200 photos of different genre. After the scoring by the Secretariat, 14 winners were selected. In addition, we also invited members in social media platforms who are passionate about astronomy and photography to take photos of the Moon, from 12-15 July, which is the largest supermoon this year. For the two best photos selected by the Secretariat, please refer to the article "Astronomical Events during the Blazing Summer" in this newsletter.

The first of our new series of the "Prelude to the Inaugural Hong Kong Laureate Forum", "Wonder Women in Science – Inspiring and Empowering the Next Generation" was successfully held on 26 July. The event gathered eight renowned local and international female scientists and researchers as speakers and guest hosts to share with us in hybrid setting about their experience in the pursuit of science. We are also very honoured that Prof Inez Fung of the University of California, Berkeley, took time out of her busy schedule and pre-recorded an interview with us which was also broadcasted during the event. Through the seminar and round-table dialogue, participating female scientists shared their views on challenges and opportunities for women in science and technology, contribution of female researchers to the advancement of science as well as their own experience to manage, balance, and flourish in both career and personal life, etc. We believe that the near 200 online and in-person participants have gained a lot from the event especially young women. We hope to inspire and prepare them to embark on the journey of scientific research.

To continue our Prelude event, we will launch our next activity, "Exploring New Horizons". We have started to liaise with local scientists / research teams in Hong Kong to arrange suitable laboratories and research facilities for visits. High school students will be invited to have a glimpse of the laboratories and engage in a dialogue with scientists / researchers, so that they can learn more about the latest research facilities in Hong Kong as well as laboratory setting and operation to spark their interest in scientific research. Further details on the event will be announced on our website.

Nobel Laureates in Physics – Professor Daniel Chee Tsui


In the 12th issue (November 2021) and 14th issue (March 2022) of this newsletter, we featured two Nobel Laureates in Physics, Professor Yang Chen-Ning and Professor Charles Kao respectively, introducing their outstanding scientific achievements and their close relationship with Hong Kong over the years.

In this issue, we will introduce another Nobel Laureate in Physics - Professor Daniel Chee Tsui, who also has a long-standing relationship with Hong Kong, for his outstanding research in the electrical properties of thin films, microstructures of semiconductors and solid-state physics and his secondary school years in Hong Kong.

Professor Daniel Chee Tsui

"I tend to partition my life into three compartments: childhood years in a remote village in the province of Henan in central China, schooling years in Hong Kong, and the years since I came to attend college in the United States," said Daniel Chee Tsui, the 1998 Nobel Laureate in Physics, in the autobiographical sketch published by the Nobel Foundation.

Childhood in a Remote Village

Daniel Chee Tsui was born on 28 February 1939 in the midst of the Sino-Japanese War, in Fan Village, a less developed area in Henan Province plagued by droughts, floods and war.

Like most of the villagers of the time, his parents were both illiterate and had never had the chance to learn how to read and write. Despite the multiple difficulties they faced in their drought-prone, war-torn village, his parents went to tremendous lengths to care for their children. "They suffered from their illiteracy, and their suffering made them determined not to have their children follow the same path at any and whatever cost to them," said Tsui in his autobiographical sketch.

Tsui received his primary education in a local school and completed his primary school life at the age of ten. Since there was no middle school in the area, he could only drop out to help his parents with farm work until age 12. In early 1951, his parents made the tough decision to send him to Hong Kong for a better education, neither he nor they knew how far it truly was. Regrettably, he never had a chance to see his parents again after this move as they passed away in the 1950s and 1960s respectively.


Exploring the Brain Science of Decision Making

Should I go out today? Should I accept the job offer? Should I marry this person? Every day, we make decisions on trivial and important matters through our brain. The brain is the most energy-demanding organ of our body. We also have the most complex brain compared to other animals, especially in a region called the prefrontal cortex (approximately the front 30% of our brain). Having a complex brain allows us to make various types of decisions that are concrete or abstract, short-term or long-term, personal or interpersonal. Recently, neuroscientists, psychologists, economists, and computer scientists have started to work together in hopes to understand the biological basis underlying the mental processes of decision making. Unveiling these brain mechanisms will help us not only guide better decision making, but also shed light on how mental disorders with decision making impairments develop and persist.

There are many interesting cases that demonstrate the link between the brain and mental processes. One example is about a patient Henry Molaison (also known as HM). In 1953, he received a surgery to remove his hippocampus, a part of the brain with unclear functions in those days, to treat his severe epilepsy problem. Although his epilepsy was largely improved after the surgery, he acquired a new problem in that he was not able to form some kind of new memories. In the remaining 55 years of his life, unfortunately, he could only remember things that happened before his surgery in 1953. Another example is about a railroad worker Phineas Gage. On 13 September 1848, an accident happened that an iron rod penetrated his head from his cheek. This caused a large area of damage in the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that we will discuss extensively in the rest of this article. Surprisingly, Gage survived and remained intact in his intelligence. However, he then showed significant personality changes. For example, he used to have good interpersonal relationships, but after the accident his colleagues found him hard to comprehend and no longer trustworthy. These examples demonstrate the interrelationships between the brain and mental processes and inspire the development of contemporary neuroscience, including brain processes of decision making.


Dr Bolton K H Chau, Associate Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Mr Chun-Kit Law, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Mr Jing Jun Wong, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Astronomical Events during the Blazing Summer

Full moons are not uncommon occurrences. Yet how much do you know about these natural phenomena? Here we will delve into the two supermoons we just bore witness to. The strawberry full moon on 14 June and buck full moon on 14 July.

Full moons occur when the moon is opposite the Sun in its orbit around Earth. Its sunlit side is entirely visible from Earth. Such a position causes the moon to look full and round. Often, we see a white-yellow full moon, yet in rare occasions we can see reddish pink ones. They look reddish when it is rising or setting, because of haze in the atmosphere near the ground, which filters out all the light reflecting off the Moon save for the reddest wavelengths. The full moon is a time to be receptive, to take the light and awareness of spirit into your emotional and physical body.

In the span of a month, these two natural beauties came to us. Strawberry moon typically takes place on the last full moon of Spring or the first of Summer. It takes its name from the ripening of June-bearing strawberries that are ready to be harvested. It is emblematic of luck, love and prosperity. Have you had your stroke of luck in June? I bet you have! We may have been barred by the heavy rain on that day from witnessing the supermoon, nonetheless, a greater happening awaits.

Thirty days later, we came to be wowed by the yellow buck full moon. It takes its name from the fact that the antlers of male deer (bucks) are in full-growth mode at this time. Bucks shed and regrow their antlers each year, producing a larger and more impressive set as the years go by.

When closely observed, you will see that the buck moon is larger than the strawberry moon. In fact, this scene can be easily explained: The Moon's orbit around Earth is not a perfect circle – instead, it is fairly elliptical – about 5.5% eccentricity. There is a fairly large difference between the perigee (when the Moon is at the closest point in its orbit) and apogee (when the Moon is at its farthest). As such, July's Supermoon prevails over June's Supermoon in size.

Another noteworthy astronomical phenomenon, the Parade of the Planets commences. The one-in-twenty-year event happens as Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn align. You could adore this awe-full spectacle even without a telescope. The planets extend from east to south across the sky. Such a parade is extremely rare. The next will likely come in 2040. Did you catch a glimpse of that planet parade this time around?

Back to square one, you would ask what a planet parade is. It is widely thought to be an astronomical event that takes place when planets line up in a row in the same area of the sky, as seen by observers from Earth. Nonetheless, it is necessary for people to remember that planets in the solar system do not orbit in the same plane. Thus, it is impossible to expect a perfectly straight line aligning the planets. Have you had your stroke of luck spotting these astronomy occurrences? We hope you have learnt more from this bi-month's article. See you in September!

July 2022
James Leung
Diocesan Boys School Class of 2022

Photo credit: Ivy Fang, Li Man (Selected photos from the HKLF Facebook's supermoon campaign)