Beauty and the Brain: how an unlikely pair met next to a Christmas tree

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 November, 2010, 12:00am

What would a Nobel Prize-winning physicist have to do with Christmas decorations?

Festival Walk staff found a way to make the link.

At their Christmas tree unveiling ceremony last week, they invited not just a pretty face - mainland actress Zhou Xun - but a beautiful mind as well - Charles Kao Kuen, the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physics winner and 'Father of Fibre Optics'.

And the connection? Among the traditional glittering ornaments, the Christmas tree features four million fibre optic lights. Oh, and they change colours.

That's an imaginative effort to impress Hongkongers rendered blase by the Christmas decorations that are just everywhere now. How often do you get a world-class physicist in the picture? Zhou was certainly impressed.

'This one is quite special,' she said. 'I mean, it's not often that I meet a scientist. Kao [with his wife, left] is very nice. I was reading all about him on the internet the night before.'

Perhaps Kao, too, would be flattered to learn that the award-winning actress had Googled his bio.

Visitors can get a souvenir picture taken at the tree and enter the illuminated Christmas house in the mall. The entrance ticket is HK$60, and all proceeds go to Kao's foundation in aid of patients who, like him, suffer from Alzheimer's disease.