China’s scientific ambitions are immense, and they’re pushing the boundaries of modern scientific exploration. BBC News reports on 5 key scientific projects in China which illustrate great strengths and weaknesses. AT A GLANCE
The Biggest Radio Telescope
At 500m (1,640 ft) wide, China will soon finish building the world’s largest radio telescope. Unlike traditional telescopes, radio telescopes “listen” to radio waves. As radio waves become weak as they travel across the Universe, the bigger the better! The build has been unwelcome by many. Residents living within 3 miles of the telescope will be subject to a radio silence zone, but the government hopes that the telescope will enrich the area through tourism and education opportunities. In ancient times China was a world leader in science, but after decades of stagnation, the project is a powerful symbol of resistance and progression.
Pig’s Eye View
Pork farming is big business in China, but pigs farming has found a new purpose: cornea transplants. Until last year, China’s main source of organs were from executed prisoners. After the controversial practice was banned, the government encouraged its people to donate their corneas after death, but this has proved unpopular. After 10 years of research, doctors have been given the green-light to carry out the procedures. With a success rate of over 90%, scientists hope that this new procedure will change the lives of many.
The Particle Hunt
Deep underground in Southern China, Physicists are studying one of the oddest particles in the cosmos- neutrinos. Neutrinos are one of the most abundant particles in the Universe, yet they are utterly unique. With no charge and hardly any mass, this particle is constantly changing between three states. The Daya Bay experiment is one of a few around the world that may help scientists understand this strange behavior. A series of huge particle detectors are allowing the team to calculate how likely a neutrino is to change from one form to another. Many Chinese scientists have spent time working abroad, opening new possibilities for international collaboration.
Race to the Deep
“Humans know much less about the deep oceans than we know about the surface of the Moon and Mars”. This is why Prod Cui Weicheng’s company Rainbow Fish is building submarines which will reach the very bottom of the Ocean (36,000ft/11,00m). The government is also planning to make the plunge, but some fear marine technology will be used for military gains. Rainbow Fish hopes to move away from state-funded research in a bit for more freedom,
Despite establishing itself as a space power, China’s astronomical progress has been shrouded in secrecy. Unlike many big names such as NASA and Roscosmos, China’s space programme is lead by the military. But there are signs that it is beginning to open up. China’s new programme of exploration includes missions such as landing on Mars and the far side of the Moon. Chin is looking to move away from being a manufacturing-based economy to a knowledge based one, putting research at the heart of its plans.
Source: BBC News