On January 23, 2002, 566 academicians of the CAS and the CAE appraised and chose China’s ten great items of progress in science and technology in 2001. According to the academicians, these achievements will have a great impact on the process of the national scientific and technological development in the 21st century. The ten top items of progress in science and technology in 2001 were:
1. Successful launching of “Shenzhou II,” China’s first unmanned spacecraft. At 1:00 on January 10, 2001, “Shenzhou II,” a China-made unmanned spacecraft was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launching Center, and successfully entered the preset orbit in 10 minutes. The event signified that China’s astronautical industry had made an important step toward manned flights. The first flight-model unmanned spaceship, “Shenzhou II” had been improved in its system structure, technology and performance. During the flight, experiments on space life sciences, space materials, space astronomy and physics, and micro-gravity science were conducted.
2. The Chinese scientists finished their part of work in drawing the map of human genome. The Human Genome Project made its first breakthrough in China. In less than two years Chinese scientists finished the chromosome sequencing assigned to China, being the first in the six participating countries to draw a final map. Compared with the working draft, the coverage rate of the final map increased from 90 percent to 100 percent, and the accuracy increased from 99 percent to 99.99 percent.
3. First independent “working draft” of rice genome and database. Scientists from the Genome Bio-information Center and the Institute of Heredity of the CAS, the National Hybrid Rice Research Center and other units finished sequencing about 2.2 billion base pairs, covering more than 95 percent of the rice genome. The accuracy of the sequencing on 90 percent of areas reached more than 99 percent. It was a new important breakthrough of China’s life science.
4. Establishment of the largest germ plasm bank in the world. Organized and initiated by the Ministry of Science and Technology and other units, and undertaken by the Institute of Crop Species Resources of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and other units, the National Crop Germ Plasm Bank stores the largest amount of germ plasm resources in the world. Seeds of as many as over 330,000 species are in long-term preservation there, providing a solid material basis for crop breeding and production.
5. Successful development of “Dawn 3000,” a super server with the highest performance. The super server “Dawn 3000,” developed by the Institute of Computer Technology of the CAS, has a peak operating rate of 403.2 billion times per second, with a total memory of 168 GB. It is so far of the highest performance among domestically made super servers. “Dawn 3000” has in general reached the international advanced level, with its parallel computer system and some other technologies reaching the international leading level.
6. Successful direct observation of the inner structure of a molecule. Hou Jianguo, Yang Jinlong, Zhu Qingshi, et al., from the University of Science and Technology of China, using a scanning tunneling microscope, set a cage-structured C-60 molecule on the surface of a single molecular film, froze the thermal oscillation of the C-60 molecule at –268 C, and for the first time in the world “photographed” the molecule with the single and dual bonds between the carbon atoms clearly dissolved. This direct mono-molecular imaging technology has provided an effective means for production of nano-devices.
7. Important achievements in early life research. The British Nature magazine of November 22, 2001 published another breakthrough achievement in early life research, made by Professor Shu Degan and his colleagues from China’s Northwest University — “Primitive Deuterostomes from the Chengjiang Lagerstätte (Lower Cambrian, China).” They called this unusual extinct phylum “Vetulicolia.” It was the sixth time the Nature magazine had published the series of discovery made by Shu Degan, et al., in their “Cambrian Explosion” project.
8. Breakthroughs in new nuclide synthesis and research. Researchers from the Institute of Modern Physics of the CAS made new, important breakthroughs in new nuclide synthesis and research. They synthesized, for the first time ever, the new superheavy nuclide 259Db, promoting China’s new nuclide synthesis and research into the area of superheavy nuclei. They first affirmed the precursor nucleus 230Ac for delayed fission in an international academic periodical—Thus fulfilling a dream long cherished by nuclear scientists the world over. The two achievements have been acclaimed by their international colleagues.
9. A clear picture gained of the national land resources. The project was directed by the National Agricultural Division Committee. Its major 10-odd achievements include: monographs such as China’s Land Resources and Technologies for Survey of China’s Land Resources; Complete Data of Survey of China’s Land Resources; 1:500,000 national land-use maps, 1:2,500,000 and 1:4,500,000 national land-use wall maps, Atlas of a Survey of China’s Land Resources and technological documentaries. Those are so far the most systematic, complete and accurate materials on national land conditions. The project in general has reached the international advanced level.
10. Creating world records of per-mu yield of cotton for three successive years. A number of institutes, under the auspices of the CAS, set up various kinds of demonstration zones, and, using technological integration, pursued ways to maintain the high quality and yield of cotton in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. They made important breakthroughs in cotton planting technology by creating a world record high of 200 kg-250 kg of ginned cotton per mu (0.0667 ha) for three successive years. The researchers used the technology in 2.4 million mu of cotton fields in Xinjiang, increasing the yield by 57.71 million kg and the output value by 560 million yuan.