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Sci-tech’s future: Ocean deep, sky high

Updated: Jun 1,2017 2:31 PM     China Daily

On May 30, China celebrated its first Science and Technology Workers’ Day, marking a year since the country declared its intention to become a leading power in the field by the middle of the century. And things have moved pretty swiftly, from the depths of the sea to the heavens.

China’s manned submersible, the Jiaolong, went literally to the bottom of the ocean this week, diving three times into the Mariana Trench and reaching a depth of 6,699 meters on May 30. Scientists collected samples of seawater, rock and marine life, including sea cucumbers, sponges and starfish. The geological samples will help them understand how the trench was formed.

Space is another frontier to be conquered. In southwest China in September, the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, the world’s largest radio telescope, began scanning the skies. Its mission is to increase understanding about the origin and structure of the universe, and perhaps bring the search for extraterrestrial life closer to what would be an astonishing conclusion.

Meanwhile, out in actual space, the Shenzhou 11 spacecraft, launched in October, carried two astronauts to the Tiangong 2 space lab, where they remained for 30 days. In April, the Tianzhou 1 cargo spacecraft docked with the lab, refueling and resupplying it.

In January, experiments began with a quantum communication satellite that had been launched in August. Preliminary results are promising.

Quantum Experiments at Space Scale will explore “hack-proof” quantum communications by transmitting unhackable keys from space.

In aerospace, China’s first large passenger aircraft, the C919, made its maiden flight in May in Shanghai.

Those are a few of the highlights. China needs sci-tech more than ever, and the country’s scientists should occupy the high ground, said Bai Chunli, president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Quantum computers are the Holy Grail of IT and will soon leave conventional computers in their dust. The world’s first quantum computer was created in China. A quantum computer with 50 quantum bits will be faster than today’s fastest supercomputer, Sunway TaihuLight, which was also made in China.

According to a government work report issued this year, China’s science ambitions include new materials, artificial intelligence, integrated circuits, 5G mobile communications and others.

China should be one of the most innovative countries by 2020 and a leading innovator by 2030 before becoming the world-leading science and technology power by the centennial of the People’s Republic of China in 2049, it said.

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