Published on 16 Jun 2022

Frontiers in Science: A Conference in Honour of Professor Chen-Ning Yang’s 100th Birthday

Prof Ling San, NTU Deputy President and Provost, delivering his opening speech.

The hybrid conference was held on 8 June 2022 at the NTU Nanyang Auditorium in honour of Professor CN Yang’s pioneering and lifelong contributions to physics and education on the occasion of his 100th Birthday. Prof Yang, Nobel Laureate in Physics 1957, has made significant contributions to theoretical physics, ranging from particle physics, quantum field theory to statistical mechanics and condensed matter theory. He has always been a fervent supporter of education, and he has maintained strong links with NTU Singapore since the time of its predecessor institution, Nanyang University. The CN Yang Scholars Programme, one of the Premier Scholars Programmes in NTU, which nurtures talented undergraduates who have a passion for science and technology, was launched in 2006 and it was named after him. 

Prof CN Yang was not able to join the centennial conference but he sent his well wishes:

The centennial conference was jointly organised by the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) and the Tan Kah Kee International Society, with support from the Lee Foundation, the Institute of Physics Singapore, the NTU CN Yang Scholars Programme,  the NTU School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, the NUS Department of Physics, the Centre for Quantum Technologies, and World Scientific Publishing Co Pte Ltd.

[On stage, from left] Prof Sum Tze Chien, Assoc Prof Gu Mile, Prof Konstantin Novoselov, Assoc Prof David Wilkowski, Prof Ling San, Assoc Prof Ariando, Prof Phua Kok Khoo, Prof Fan Hongjin, Prof Oh Choo Hiap and Nanyang Asst Prof Nelly Ng

[On screen, from left clockwise] Prof CN Yang (photograph), Assoc Prof Tan Meng Chwan and Prof Christos Panagopoulos

The conference featured two Nobel Laureates Prof Konstantin Novoselov and Prof Brian Schmidt, as well as the following eminent speakers:

  • Prof Ping Ao, Shanghai University
  • Prof Christos Panagopoulos, Nanyang Technological University
  • Prof Oh Choo Hiap, National University of Singapore
  • Prof José Ignacio Latorre, National University of Singapore
  • Assoc Prof Mile Gu, Nanyang Technological University
  • Assoc Prof David Wilkowski, Nanyang Technological University
  • Assoc Prof Ariando, National University of Singapore
  • Assoc Prof Tan Meng Chwan, National University of Singapore
  • Nanyang Asst Prof Nelly Ng, Nanyang Technological University

The event was preceded by a welcome address from the Conference Chair, Prof Sum Tze Chien, Director of IAS NTU. Prof Phua Kok Khoo, Founding Director Emeritus of IAS NTU, gave an introductory talk about Prof CN Yang. These were followed by a tribute video to commemorate Prof Yang’s memorable moments in NTU, featuring clips from his public lectures and interactive tea sessions with CN Yang Scholars etc.

In the keynote talk by Nobel Laureate Prof Konstantin Novoselov, his sharing about the applications of physics in materials, such as graphite, and engineering was highly enriching for all participants regardless of educational background through the referencing of everyday concepts. He also cited the movie, “Terminator 2” (1991), to discuss how bottom-up functionality at the material and structural level was depicted to be the near future in the film, while we are currently still at top-down functionality at the structural level.

Prof Konstantin Novoselov delivering his talk "Materials for the Future" to an engaging audience

Many of our conference speakers repeatedly mentioned that Prof Yang's research and findings have contributed greatly to the continual development in modern physics. Prof Oh Choo Hiap credited Prof Yang’s influence on his research and highlighted the huge impact of Prof Yang's work on the physics community. It was also inspiring to hear from a CNYSP alumnus, Nanyang Asst Prof Nelly Ng, who talked about how listening to a talk by Prof Yang had inspired her when she was a high school student, and the story of her undergraduate journey in CNYSP leading to the work that she currently does at NTU. 

Another keynote talk was delivered  by Nobel Laureate Prof Brian Schmidt online. He summarised the history of modern physics and his research field of cosmology, and also shared the great influence of Yang-Mills Theory. As Prof Schmidt mentioned, Prof Yang has lived through the start of all modern physics. Prof Schmidt also mentioned how computational approaches are allowing us to make revolutionary advances - and this surely applies to many other fields in STEM. He ended his presentation with words of advice for aspiring scientists, “The research journey is tough, but passion will guide you through it”.

Prof Brian Schmidt delivering his online talk "The Evolution of Physics in the 100 Years of Professor CN Yang" from Australia

The conference was attended by 185 in-person participants and over 300 participants across the globe virtually. Majority of the participants were students, researchers and faculty members, as well as some high school students.

In summary, I would say that it was a memorable experience for all participants and speakers, as we are finally able to attend a physical conference after two years of COVID-19 restrictions.  

Listening to all the inspiring talks by the distinguished speakers made me ponder how much there is left to be discovered and further developed, and thus how vast the future may still be.

Watch the Video Recordings.

View the Conference Booklet.

Zann | NTU CN Yang Scholar