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Top 10 Science and Technology Accomplishments of 2003

The annual vote on the Top 10 Science and Technology Accomplishments by members of CAS and CAE is one of the most authoritative reviews in China of scientific research and technological accomplishments for the previous year. All CAS and CAE members, who represent the cream of the Chinese scientific community, are asked to look through progress in their own disciplines as well as in others over the past year and vote according to academic significance and impact. Based on votes of the 582 members of CAS and CAE, the 2003 top accomplishments in science and technology in China were:


The successful launch on October 15, 2003 of the Shenzhou-5 Spacecraft, with China's first astronaut Yang Liwei aboard, which orbited the Earth 14 times before safely landing. Yang, a 38-year-old lieutenant colonel in the Chinese Air Force, was chosen for the historic mission from more than a 1,000 pilots.


Significant breakthroughs in unraveling the molecular mystery of higher rice production and in super hybrid rice breeding. A research team headed by Li Jiayang, an academician of CAS Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, and Qian Qian, a research fellow of the China Rice Research Institute, discovered the gene that controls rice tillering, which they successfully separated and cloned. This was a breakthrough achievement in unraveling the molecular mystery of higher rice production. In the "super hybrid rice cultivation program'' led by Yuan Longping, an academician of CAE, averages of 12.112 tons and 12.261 tons of rice per hectare were yielded respectively in two experimental fields in Hunan Province. The research laid a firm foundation for large-scale growing of the super hybrid rice.


Important initial progress in SARS research. Researchers successfully isolated the SARS coronavirus, and developed a fast test kit for SARS and some drugs for prevention and treatment of SARS. They also made significant progress in their research into the cause of SARS, its clinical diagnosis and treatment, and biological protection equipment. They completed the research in the inactivated SARS coronavirus vaccines, and entered the stage of clinical test.


New progress in nanotechnological research. Surface-modification technique and fabrication of artificial nanocluster crystals. Researchers led by Prof. Lu Ke of CAS Institute of Metals Research ("IMR") solved the problem of nitriding the surface of metal materials via nanotechnology.  The International Center for Quantum Structures of the CAS Institute of Physics succeeded in developing a new nanomaterial — identical-size nanocluster, fabricating 16 kinds of artificial crystals by planting aluminum atoms on silicon substrate, which are 1.5 nanometers in size and distributed evenly.


Successful construction and operation of the first commercial magnetically-levitated rail system in the world in Shanghai. It is a significant outcome of cooperation between China and Germany in science and hi-tech. It takes a train only eight minutes to cover the whole line of 33 km, at a speed of 430 km per hour. Shanghai scientists conducted experiments in more than 140 research and development projects, gaining eight patents, and making the technology of magnetically-levitated rail system reach the advanced level in the world. China is the third country to master this technology, after Germany and Japan.


Successful water storage at the Three Gorges Reservoir, and the operation of its permanent ship lock and its first batch of six power-generating units. It created a world record in electrical and water works installation and operation. The water level in front of the dam of the Three Gorges Project has reached 135 m. The double-line, five-level ship lock of the project is regarded as the largest one on a river in the world.


Significant progress in experiments of quantum communication. The Laboratory of Quantum Physics and Quantum Information of the University of Science and Technology of China successfully realized purification of entangled photons, and for the first time created the quantum repeater, the most important unit in quantum communication over a large distance, laying a foundation for long-distance quantum communication in the future.


Successful development of a hundred terabytes processing super server. The Dawning 4000L, developed by the CAS Institute of Computing Technology and the Dawning Company, consists of 40 racks, with 644 CPU, a peak operating rate up to three teraflops times, 644 GB of physical memory and 100 teraflops storage. The system can be expanded into 80 racks "online," with a 6.75 teraflops computing capability, suitable for both high performance scientific computing applications and information services.


Significant breakthrough in controllable thermal nuclear fusion experiments and studies. Scientists of the CAS Institute of Plasma Physics obtained repeated high temperature plasma discharge over one minute in their experimental campaign on HT-7, a super-conducting Tokamak unit, making it a second experimental installation to produce high temperature plasma in duration longer than one minute.


Discovery of "four-winged" dinosaurs. Having studied the dinosaur fossils unearthed in Liaoning Province, Doctors Xu Xing, Zhou Zhonghe and their colleagues from the CAS Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology discovered a "four-winged" species of dinosaur, which might be able to glide. This discovery provides a key evidence for the hypothesis of evolution of tree animals to birds through a period of gliding.

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