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Qian Weichang devoted his life to the country's scientific development. He was well-known in applied mathematics, mechanics and physics. Throughout the past century, Qian made some unexpected decisions when he faced major choices in his life.
Qian Weichang was born in a teachers' family in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province. One of his uncles was the renowned master of Chinese culture Qian Mu. In such a family, Qian Weichang soon became interested in studying Chinese culture and history. He was selected by Tsinghua University after the college entrance examination where he achieved full marks in both Chinese and history.
"I wrote a composition in the exam. 450 words in 45 minutes. The teacher tried to amend it, but couldn't make any changes. Then he gave me 100. But the other lessons, Maths, Physics, Chemistry and English... I only got 25."
"Yes, 25 all together. The marks are very low. I only reached 5 in physics, while zero in English because I've never learned that."
Just as Qian began to study history at university, Japan began its aggression of China. He was angry on hearing the news and immediately decided to change his major to science.
"There were not many planes and cannons in China at that time. But I thought we can make some by ourselves. So I was determined to give up history to learn how to produce planes and cannons. My friends told me to study physics, but the director of physics didn't agree."
To get permission, Qian tried to persuade the director for days. He finally succeeded.
"Then I spent four years studying physics, and became the best student in class."
In 1940, Qian went to Toronto, Canada, to further his study, majoring in elasticity. Two years later, his doctoral dissertation made him world famous. Even Einstein said that the Chinese youth had solved a problem that had bothered him for years.
Later, Qian went to the California Institute of Technology, US, studying aviation and space industry. As he made great achievements in his career, the Chinese scientist made another choice which surprised many people. He chose to return to China in 1946, and served as a professor at Tsinghua, Peking and Yanjing Universities.
"I was determined to go back to help more students. The professors usually had six lessons a week, but I had 17. I didn't have any complaint."
Qian made great achievement in many fields throughout his whole life. He is generally acknowledged as one of the pioneers and founders of modern mechanics in China.
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