About the Hong Kong Laureate Forum
Welcome to the September issue of the newsletter of
the Hong Kong Laureate Forum!
Open application for the inaugural Hong Kong Laureate
Forum (the Forum) started on 14 September and will end
on 13 December 2020.
As of today, we have received positive responses from
20 Shaw Laureates, including several Nobel Laureates and Fields
Medalist, to join the Forum. Apply now to become one
of the 200 selected young scientists to take part in
the Forum and be inspired by them. This is a
world-wide recruitment, eligible young scientists from
around the world may complete and submit their
this link. Detailed information of the Forum and young
scientist application are available in our
On the other hand, to broaden youngster’s and public’s
knowledge and enhance their interests in science,
cultivate the culture of self-exploration and
self-learning, encourage observation on our
environment and foster understanding of the power of
science and its impact on our daily life, the HKLF
will launch an online quiz game titled “Science Hunt”
on Facebook in October this year. For each round of
the game, six multiple choice questions in various
topics of science will be posted. Participants of the
game have chances to win exciting prizes. We received
tremendous supports to the game on different aspects
including sponsorship of most of the prizes by Xiaomi
Corporation, and contribution of science questions and
answers from academics namely Dr Jason Chan of The
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, as
well as Dr Ken Leung and Dr Gray Ho of Hong Kong
Baptist University. The first round of games will
start on 6 October 2020, stay tuned to our social
media platform for more details.
Special Congratulations to Prof Dennis Yuk Ming LO
Many in the community share our vision and mission of
promoting understanding and interest of young
generation in science and technology. One of them is
Prof Dennis Yuk Ming LO, the new winner of the 2021
Breakthrough Prize, from the Faculty of Medicine, The
Chinese University of Hong Kong. Prof Lo once said, “I
hope more and more young talents will be joining us in
the pursuit of innovation and technology. Together we
strive to make positive impact and make a difference
to the world.”.
Prof Lo is awarded the 2021 Breakthrough Prize, known
as the “Oscar of Science”, in Life Sciences for his
work in discovering fetal DNA in maternal blood which
enables the prenatal testing of Down syndrome and a
variety of genetic diseases. The tests have been
adopted in more than 90 countries and are used by more
than seven million pregnant women every year.
Congratulations to Prof Lo!
Prof Lo will share his journey of scientific pursuit
with the HKLF, if you want to find out more about his
experience, follow us in our social media platform.
The COVID-19 pandemic (the Pandemic) has swept through
the whole world for over half a year. There seems no
sign of slowing down. Traditionally, infection
problems are dealt with by experts who clarify the
cause of the disease and the pathological
involvements, work out the effective treatment
protocol, then organise a public health program on
prevention. Unfortunately, with regard to this current
devastating Pandemic, up to today there is yet
consensus on the use of therapy: anti-flu, anti-HIV,
antimalarial and steroidal classics have all been
tried. New drugs, of course, have been on the list.
The diverse views of clinical scientists have invited
populist politicians to join in the fray. They make
unsubstantiated comments indiscriminately. With regard
to clinical involvements: those chronically ill and
elderlies are expected to be more vulnerable.
Nevertheless, with further spread of the Pandemic, a
much broader age range, from neonates, children to the
young and healthy, could all be victims.
Progress in the world has never been advanced equally,
whether a place is considered developed or otherwise
would normally be judged by its economic status.
Advanced economy has done better in life expectancy,
infection rate of diseases, etc. However, with this
once in a century Pandemic, the unequal world regions
appear to have become equal. The wealthy regions are
affected as badly as the poor ones. The day-to-day
world data related to the infection and mortality
numbers, which shows that wealthy places such as the
United States and some countries from Europe fare no
better than underdeveloped countries, gives vivid
illustrations of the mystery of this Pandemic.
Author: Professor Ping-Chung LEUNG
MBBS(HK), FRACS, FRCS (Edin), MS(HK), FHKCOS, FHKAM
(Orthopaedic Surgery), DSc (CUHK)
Emeritus Professor of Orthopaedics & Traumatology,
Faculty of Medicine of The Chinese University of Hong
Director of Centre for Clinical Trials on Chinese
Medicine of Institute of Chinese Medicine, The Chinese
University of Hong Kong
Director of State Key Laboratory of Research on
Bioactivities and Clinical Applications of Medicinal
Plants (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Interview with 2015 Shaw Laureate - Mr William J
The Shaw Prize in Astronomy 2015 was awarded to
astronomer and space scientist
Mr William J Borucki
for his work in conceiving and leading the Kepler
Mission, which greatly advanced our knowledge of both
extrasolar planetary systems and stellar interiors.
An interview with Mr William J Borucki was conducted
by the Theoretical Astronomy Group of the
Hong Kong Astronomical Society
(HKAS) in September 2015. We are delighted to share
the interview highlights provided by the HKAS.
Scripts prepared by:
Dr Leung Chun Sing, Team Leader of Theoretical
Astronomical Group of Hong Kong Astronomical
Mr Fung Po Kei, Senior Member of Theoretical Astronomy
Group of Hong Kong Astronomical Society
Mr Eddie Ng, Senior Member of Theoretical Astronomy
Group of Hong Kong Astronomical Society
IMMC 2020 Greater China Challenge – Credibility
Assessment of Online News
Through the collaboration with the International
Mathematical Modling Challenge (IM2C)
Committee (Zhonghua) and participating schools, we
shared one of the topics for the 2020 Greater China
contest and a corresponding winning paper in the
July issue of our newsletter. This time we continue to share another topic of the
contest – Credibility Assessment of Online News.
“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the
truth is putting on its shoes.” This adage has never
been truer than in the era of online media.
Misinformation can quickly reach thousands or even
millions of readers, thus, the concern over the
credibility of online news is growing worldwide.
Assessment of credibility of online news has been a
pressing challenge for the health of the information
ecosystem where every citizen in the digital age is
being affected. The 2020 IM2C sets such
challenge for secondary school students from Greater
One of the winning papers prepared by Beijing National
Day School in China has won Outstanding Award in
IM2C 2020 of Greater China.
Exploration of Mars (III)
In the last issue of our newsletter, we mentioned that
China, the United Arab Emirates and the United States
launched their probes in July 2020 to carry out Mars
missions during the best launch window. The successful
launching of those probes marks the beginning of their
Mars missions. Let’s explore more about missions to
the red planet in this issue of newsletter.
What is a “Mars launch window”?
The revolution periods of Mars and that of Earth are
not the same. Mars launch window refers to the period
of time that the orbital distances of the two planets
are the closest. As such, the navigation time of
probes launched during this period can be shortened.
This year (2020), Mars opposition will occur on 14
October, the orbital position of Mars, Earth and the
Sun will be in a straight line and the distance
between the red planet and Earth will be at the
closest. Therefore, it is the most suitable juncture
to carry out Mars missions. Considering the distance
between Mars and Earth and revolution speed of these
two celestial bodies around the Sun, the best Mars
launch window was July to mid-August in 2020, around
two months before the Mars opposition. This Mars
launch window only happens once every 26 months. We
will need to wait for at least two years before the
next launch window. Therefore, all countries would
endeavour to launch their Mars mission during this
period of time.
The probes take at least seven months of navigation to
reach Mars. It means that these probes will land on
Mars in February 2021.
Navigate to Mars
The closest distance between Earth and Mars is about
55 million kilometres while the furthest can be more
than 400 million kilometres. To increase the chance of
success, fuel is always a vital factor for Mars
mission. Apart from launching the probes during the
best launch window, scientists need to reduce the size
and weight of the probes so as to save fuel that
probes use and carry. German engineer Walter Hohmann
deduced “Hohmann transfer orbit” by mathematics, which
has made an important contribution to the
understanding of orbital dynamics and space
“Hohmann transfer orbit” is a way of changing orbit.
During the first acceleration, the spacecraft first
transfers from its original orbit to an elliptical
orbit. When it reaches the apsis of the elliptical
orbit, it accelerates again and enters the target
orbit. During the navigation in space, transferring
orbit consumes a lot of fuel. If a Mars probe utilises
the Hohmann transfer orbit to navigate, it only needs
to accelerate twice to transfer orbit for entering the
Martian orbit after launching, so it greatly saves
navigation time and fuel needed.
In the history of Mars exploration, about half of the
missions failed. We hope that Mars exploration now
underway will reach a new milestone in the year of the