Fudan Mourns the Loss of Professor Hao Bailin
Professor Hao Bailin of T-Life Research Center and Department of Physics, Fudan Univeristy, a member of the Chinese Communist Party, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a renowned theoretical physicist, a promoter of statistical physics, computational physics, non-linear science, and bioinformatics in China, died at 16:39 on 7 March 2018 in Beijing, aged 83.
Personal Life of Hao Bailin
Hao Bailin, a native of Zhengding, Hebei Province, was born in Beijing in June 1934.
He joined the Chinese Communist Party in September 1952.
From September 1954 to August 1956, he studied at Kharkov Engineering-Economic Institute.
From September 1956, he studied in the Department of Mathematics and Physics, Kharkiv University, and obtained his bachelor’s degree in June 1959.
Afterwards, he entered the Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), as a trainee researcher from 1959 to 1978, during which period he pursued study on physics in Moscow State University and Soviet Academy of Sciences from 1961 to 1963.
From 1978 to 2005, he continued his job at the Institute of Physics, CAS, and was Vice Dean of the Institute from 1984 to 1987, and Dean from 1990 to 1994.
He was elected Academician of the Chinese Academy of Science in 1980.
In 1995, he was elected Member of The Third World Academy of Sciences.
From 2005 to 2018, he taught in the Department of Physics, Fudan University, as a Professor.
Professor Hao Bailin was one of the earliest physicists in China who devoted themselves to the study of bioinformatics, and he was regarded as a founder and pioneer of Chinese bioinformatics. Professor Hao has made significant contributions to theoretical physics and computational physics. In 1997, He opened up a pioneering theoretical research direction of life science, and devoted himself to unraveling the mysteries of the genome issues through mathematical methods. He adopted sweeping genetic analyses to reconstruct the life of prokaryotes, which perfectly settled the controversy among the evolutionists.
Professor Hao Bailin has made outstanding achievements in fields such as theoretical physics, computational physics, nonlinear science and theoretical life sciences. And he has also contributed much to the studies of electronic spectroscopy of solids and phonon spectrum, metal infrared properties, polymer semiconductor theory, statistical physics models, phase transitions and critical phenomenon, critical dynamics, closed-circuit Green function method, calculation of the power flow in power networks, solution to antenna radiation field, statistical analysis of seismic activity, engineering system of group theory, computer programming, chaotic dynamics, symbolic dynamics, bioinformatics and so on. Professor Hao has published about 350 scientific papers, and 20 books (both in Chinese and in English). And his most recent academic work is A Few Pieces of Mathematics from Genomes (2015).
From the end of 1960s to the beginning of 1970s, Professor Hao had obtained a closed-form approximation for the 3-dimentional Ising model through his study. During the 1970s, Professor Hao, together with Academician Yu Yu, used the method of skeleton graph expansion to calculate the critical value of continuous phase transitions to high order, which was the only contribution among the physicists in mainland China to the early development of the renormalization group. In 1980s and 1990s, Professor Hao had worked with Mr. Zheng Weimei in developing applied symbolic dynamics and had reaped several results such as the symmetry breaking rule. From 1984 to 1994, Professor Hao successfully solved the problem of counting the number of periods in one-dimensional maps with multiple critical points. In 2004, Professor Hao proposed a CVTree approach based on whole genome prokaryote phylogeny without sequence alignment to construct a bacterial phylogeny tree, which was deemed as an essential achievement in phylogenetic tree reconstruction.
Furthermore, Professor Hao was once deputy editor of the journal Acta Physica Sinica, editor of Chinese Physics Letters, and an editorial member of several Chinese and foreign academic journals. Also, he served as Chairman of the 19th International Conference on Statistical Physics.
Honor and Awards
Professor Hao Bailin’s scientific paper “Magnetic Coated Small Dipole Antenna” won the 1978 Chinese Academy of Sciences Award for Major Achievement.
The paper “Closed-form Approximation for the 3-dimensional Ising Model” won the second prize of the 1987 Chinese Academy of Sciences Progress Award.
His book Applied Symbolic Dynamics was awarded the second prize of the 7th National Award for Outstanding Science and Technology Books by the State Administration of Press and Publication in 1995, and the second prize of the Science and Technology Progress Award by the National Defense Commission for Science and Technology in 1997.
The paper “Equilibrium and Nonequilibrium Formalisms Made Unified: Theoretical Study of Green’s Function” reaped the first prize of CAS Natural Sciences Award in 1999, and the second prize of State Natural Science Award in 2000.
In 2000, he received the 1981-1998 Influential International Classic Citation Award from International Scientific Indexing.
In 2001, he received the Science and Technology Progress Award of Physics from Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation.
And in 2007, he won the second prize of State Science and Technology Award for his Physics Changes the World series.
“Physics is a Culture”
The translation of “Physics” in Chinese (Wu Li) was inspired by an excerpt from Zhuangzi’s philosophical essay Zhi Traveling to the North: “The world remains silent on its great beauty, and things on earth never reveal their innate truth. And the Sages, are those that can restore the beauty of the world and fathom the truth of things”. Therefore, in Professor Hao’s belief, physicists are just like the Sages, who set out to explore the truth of the universe and to perceive the beauty of the world.
- Physics is a Science of Reason
According to Professor Hao, the study of physics requires people to make use of a handful of principles to explain numerous issues. It teaches people to seek and pursue truth, to solve problems based on facts and data, to make proper distinction between the major and the minor. Physics focuses on the problem that is of primary importance and saves people from being misled by irrelevant details.
Physics Education is Cultural Education
Professor Hao also stressed that physics is the foundation of natural sciences and also the source of technological advances.
Science, especially physics, is different from technology, as it constantly expands humans’ view of the world and conception of nature. The role of physics is far more than “productivity.” The over-simplistic and mechanical view and practice that regard science merely as a kind of technology is the major element that keeps scholars from long-term commitment to scientific research.
To change the misunderstanding of science, physics education should be approached from a cultural perspective. Cultural literacy is achieved by life-long accumulation. And Chinese traditional culture particularly encourages people to engage in scientific experiments, deductive reasoning, and examination and verification. Therefore, educators must cultivate the scientific awareness of the younger generations in a broader culture context.
- Physics is an Art Form
Professor Hao also compared physics to music and painting, since both possesses many appreciators and lovers of different backgrounds and diverse degrees; hence, like art, physics, and natural sciences in general, should be an important aspect of modern people’s cultural literacy.
The society needs professional physicists and physics educators as much as it needs musician and painters. Moreover, the society also relies on the physicists to make discovery and innovative contribution, to achieve the scientific and technological progress of the entire human race.
Students of Physics Remember Professor Hao Bailin
Wang Jinyin, 2014 Undergraduate Student
When I was informed of the death of Professor Hao Bailin yesterday, my heart was seized by an unspeakable sorrow. His book Phase Transitions and Critical Phenomena is illuminating to me. I recall his saying that tolerance for mistakes is not a cover up for the waste of research resources; and I recollect how enlightening his pioneering research on bioinformatics is for students of physics. The more I think about him, the greater pain of loss grows in my heart. There was a kind of scholarly quality about Professor Hao. He has devoted all his life to academics and to teaching. Once I have heard an anecdote about him which showed his upright character. Since his vision declines at his elderly ages, he proposed to cancel the free journals that were sent to him monthly to avoid the waste of resources. I take it as an honor to have a teacher as Professor Hao, and I will always remind myself to look up to him.
Cui Li, 2014 Undergraduate Student
For his whole life, Professor Hao Bailin has been actively engaged in scientific research, and he has made significant achievements in various fields. Professor Hao was also concerned about the state of mind of college students. I once participated in a party lesson given by Professor Hao, where he encouraged us to be brave in facing all kinds of difficulties, to stay curious and learn new things, and to remain optimistic. We must learn from Professor Hao, and remember his devotion and contribution forever.
Xie Jun, 2017 Graduate Student
I was lucky to attend one of Professor Hao’s lectures, in which he narrated his past experiences to us. I learned that no matter where he was, he never forgot his aim of serving his motherland and its people, which won my admiration. When I had personal contact with Professor Hao, I found him very kind and gentle, and he was also much respected by his colleagues and students. Unfortunately, Professor Hao is now no longer with us, but I am sure his spirit will live forever!
Song Yuanhe, 2016 Graduate Student
I have heard much about Professor Hao’s legendary research life. He started off studying mining economy in the Soviet Union, and then transferred to the Department of Physics. He returned to China serving in the Department of National Defense and began to analyze the antenna theory. He has made great contribution to statistical physics. And in the later years of his life, he devoted himself to the development of T-Life Research in China. Professor Hao has distributed his energy to a number of scientific fields and spent much time in popularizing scientific education. He is truly a respectable scientist.
Zhang Chendi, 2014 Phd. Student
Professor Hao Bailin has extensive and profound research in all areas of basic science. His rigorous attitude and great enthusiasm have an indelible role in the advancement of China’s scientific research. His works are lively and interesting, in which he describes physical images in simple and lucid language, making readers fascinated with the wonderful world of physics.
Zhang Yilin, 2017 Phd. Student
I was lucky to have read Professor Hao Bailin’s Book A Tale on Bioinformatics, in which he gave a rigorous and detailed introduction to the theoretical framework of bioinformatics, the major focus of Professor Hao’s research work then. From participating in the “three-wire” technological physics construction to the study of T-life science, Professor Hao always responded to the needs of the country. His life and work shows the social responsibility as outstanding scientist of physics. Now Professor Hao Bailin has passed away, we should “stand on the shoulders of giants” and continue his work and research.
Qin Jiajun, 2014 Phd. Student
Years ago, I watched a lecture given by Professor Hao Bailin on the university’s website, and was surprised by his scientific literacy. I admired Professor Hao’s commandment of all the esoteric concepts of physics, and his great enthusiasm for the unknown scientific world.
Liu Mengjie, 2006 Undergraduate Student
My mentor, Professor Hao Bailin, has devoted his entire life to the rigorous research of theoretical physics and T-Life sciences. But in everyday life, he was amicable and sincere, and, to me, he was like an affable grandfather. I will never forget his teaching!