Engineers work in the core of the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope in Guizhou province. OU DONGQU/XINHUA
The country is working to regain its lost status as a scientific power-house.
Under a blue spotlight a mouse's brain lies immersed in liquid. A diamond blade peels off a layer of brain tissue 1 micron thick, less than the width of a human hair.
The layer is scanned and imaged. About 10,000 layers will be peeled off to get a map of the entire brain.
When displayed on a computer the images of the organ's colorful neural and vascular systems look like intricate highway networks. This is the world's clearest map of a mammalian brain.
Dozens of such instruments are working round the clock in the spotless labs of the Suzhou Institute for Brainsmatics at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, or HUST, in Suzhou Industrial Park in the eastern province of Jiangsu. Nearby are the ancient Suzhou Gardens, famous for their inventive and exquisite design and oriental aesthetics.
The journal Nature recently reported on the work of the brain-imaging institute in Suzhou, arousing great interest in academic circles.
"We have achieved success with mice and are making efforts to map the brains of primates, which are more advanced and complicated," Li An'an, deputy-director of the institute, said.
"Our ultimate goal is to lead the world to get a precise map of the human brain, which will help us uncover its secrets."
This is just one of China's achievements at the frontier of science and technology. In his series of books Science and Civilization in China, Joseph Needham, a British science historian, described China as a great country of invention and creation that fell behind in modern times.
Indeed, in the 20th century, few Chinese participated in the world's major scientific and technological advances.
But that situation is changing rapidly, and now Chinese are working in almost every field of science and technology, from internet development to brain studies, from probing space to exploring the deep ocean, from observing the universe to researching micro particles,
In a cave in Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei Province, scientists from HUST have measured the gravitational constant for more than 30 years, and recently obtained the most accurate result ever.
Isaac Newton discovered the principles of gravity more than 300 years ago, but the measurement of the gravitational constant had always been inaccurate.
"The precise measurement of the gravitational constant is important for deeper understanding of gravity, and the measuring technology could be applied in navigation and the search for mineral deposits. The study might also help us figure out whether the universe has additional dimensions as surmised by Stephen Hawking, which might enable humans to traverse space and time," Tu Liangcheng, director of HUST's gravitation center, said.