Scientist shares secret of success

Just enjoy what you are doing, says professor involved in unlocking secret of universe

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 April, 2013, 3:57am

One of the scientists at the forefront of unlocking the secrets of the universe has shared the secret of success in life: do what you enjoy doing, think outside the box - and get to know that box.

"If you love what you're doing, you'll be good at it. But you've got to know enough about the knowledge that's been, and then have room to start thinking for yourself," said Professor John Ellis when asked about science education.

Ellis, the Clerk Maxwell Professor of Theoretical Physics at King's College London, is in town to give a series of talks about his research at CERN, the European laboratory for particle physics.

The centre is conducting research on the Higgs boson - a particle that gives mass to all other particles in the universe. It has also been nicknamed the God particle.

Hong Kong universities have recently signed an agreement to begin work with CERN researchers as part of an experiment involving the Large Hadron Collider, some 175 metres beneath the Swiss-Franco border.

They include the University of Science and Technology, Chinese University, and the University of Hong Kong.

The education system in Hong Kong often comes under scrutiny for its focus on rote memorisation techniques, and lack of encouragement of creativity, but that doesn't appear to have hampered the students from Hong Kong who have gone to work at CERN.

"I've not met the students from Hong Kong, but I've heard good things," said Ellis yesterday.

Hong Kong universities are looking to move away from the method of rote learning, said cosmologist and University of Science and Technology professor Henry Tye Sze-hoi.

"Now with a click of a button you have all the information … It's now about how to teach people to think. To come up with questions not just answers," he said.

At the Daya Bay nuclear power plant in Shenzhen, the Chinese University and the University of Hong Kong are currently working on how subatomic "ghost" particles change.

Scientists from China, the United States, Taiwan, Russia, and the Czech Republic are also involved.