Poll: Youths hope to keep legacy of scientists alive
A majority of young Chinese are taking scientists such as Yuan Longping, known as "the father of hybrid rice", and Wu Mengchao, the "father of Chinese hepatobiliary surgery", as their idols, with many of them recognizing and wanting to pass on their scientific spirit, a recent survey found.
The nationwide survey, conducted by Beijing-based China Youth Daily, polled 1,630 people ages 14 to 35 and found that 81 percent of respondents said they were encouraged by the stories of the two top scientists and wanted to become scientists themselves. At least 95 percent of them cited renowned scientists such as Yuan and Wu as models for their lives.
Yuan died at age 91 in Changsha, Hunan province, on May 22. Wu, 99, died in Shanghai, also on May 22.
The survey also found that the "spirit of scientists" in the eyes of the respondents included love for the country and a willingness to serve the people, the courage to create and innovate and persistence in efforts to reach scientific breakthroughs.
Huang Chong, the head of the social investigation center at China Youth Daily who led the survey, said the findings were unexpected.
"Before the survey, we had thought that, rather than scientists, young people would prefer to become entertainment stars or webcast anchors," she said.
Huang had not expected to find that in the internet age, when internet celebrities attract much attention and quickly gain fame and benefits, so many young people would want to become scientists－a somewhat low-key occupation that requires long hours of hard work, for which returns come slowly.
"I'm happy for their aspirations and goals," Huang said.
Another finding that surprised Huang and her team was that most of the young people participating in the survey had lamented the scientists' deaths in different ways.
According to the survey, 24 percent of the respondents said they had gone to the funeral home memorial services and presented bouquets, and 70 percent expressed their feelings and presented virtual flowers on social media while watching livestreaming of the services.
"Our team is deeply touched by many young respondents, who were born in the 1990s and 2000s, as they told us that the two scientists, especially Yuan, are figures who appear in their textbooks at school and are like grandpas who have accompanied them in their growth," said Huang.
Yang Ziwei, 20, a college student in Rizhao, Shandong province, told China Daily,"For people of my age, Grandpa Yuan is a legendary figure whose deeds can be heard in my daily life, both at school and at home."