- 十月 22, 2018
Eight amazing science stories of 2017
The Hakka Story of a German Father and Son
图/文: HEPING & OU
Story 1:Star crash
November 2016, Schorndorf, a small town to the east of Stuttgart,
When we set off for the university town of Tübingen, the fields beside
the road were swathed in mist, but by the time we reached Tübingen the
sun was shining from a blue sky. It was late autumn, a season when the
River Neckar flows gently through its valley. Reflecting the red, yellow
and golden leaves, its water was a riot of colours.
In 2017, scientists detected Einstein’s gravitational waves from a
new source -the collision of two dead stars, or neutron stars.
The first direct detection of these waves was announced in 2016,
when the Advanced LIGO laboratories described the warping of space
from the merger of two distant black holes. The result was
hailed as the starting point for a new branch of astronomy, using
gravitational waves to collect data about distant phenomena.
This was our second visit. When we had driven past the campus two years
before, it had made an indelible impression on us. At that time,
however, we could hardly have imagined that Tübingen would in any way
be linked with Meizhou, a remote place in Guangdong Province, China.
Telescopes from all over the world captured details of the neutron
star merger as it unfolded. The outburst took place in a galaxy
located roughly a thousand billion, billion km away in the
Constellation Hydra. Some of the facts about these cataclysmic
events are staggering. For example, neutron stars are so dense
that a teaspoonful would weigh a billion tonnes. The team was also able
to confirm that these collisions lead to the production of the
gold and platinum that exists in the Universe.
of space), 这同样发现开辟了天文学的新领域(a new branch of
Story 2:Cassini’s final bow
The Cassini spacecraft arrived in the Saturn system in 2004. In
the 13 years it was operational it transformed our understanding of the
ringed planet and its moons. It discovered geysers spewing
water-ice out into space from a sub-surface ocean on the icy
satellite of Enceladus, spied seas and lakes of methane on
Saturn’s biggest moon Titan and watched as a giant storm encircled
But with its fuel tanks running low, Nasa decided to destroy the
satellite in Saturn’s clouds rather than see it collide with a
potential target in the search for life, such as Enceladus, and
contaminate it with terrestrial microbes. On 15 September,
Cassini hurtled into the giant plant’s atmosphere and was torn
apart. But it still managed to return data to Earth from its dive
satellite of Enceladus)，但那个非法海洋(sub-surface
water-ice)，他发现了甲烷(seas and lakes
“嘀嘀嘀……”，燃料告急(fuel tanks running
apart)，即便如此，小卡还是成功了它的末尾使命，在生死瞬间(from its dive
Story 3:Paris pull-out
Our guide was an 80-year-old German, Klaus Autenrieth. Toour ears, his
Chinese name, Hao Junhe(豪俊和), sounded rather affectionate. Hao Junhe
was born in Tübingen in 1936. When he was a mere 10 months old his
parents brought him all the way from Germany to Kaying, now Meizhou, in
the east of Guangdong Province, and he spent his childhood in the
mountainous Hakka areas of Meizhou.It was not until 1947, when he was
already 11, that he would return to Germany.。
While he was on the campaign trail, Donald Trump said he would
“cancel” the Paris climate agreement, taking the US out of the
deal. But after winning the US election in November of that year, he
made few public pronouncements on the topic of climate change.
Reports emerged that Mr Trump’s advisers were split on the issue,
prompting some commentators to wonder whether the President might be
convinced to stay in the process.
However, on 1 June, President Trump held a press conference in the White
House’s Rose Garden to announce America’s withdrawal. Mr Trump
said: “In order to fulfil my solemn duty to protect America and its
citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris
climate accord but begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris
accord or a really entirely new transaction on terms that are fair
to the United States.”
As expected, the reaction from Democrats and other world leaders was
damning. Former US President Barack Obama accused the Trump
administration of “rejecting the future“, while former Secretary of
State John Kerry called the decision a “gross abdication of
Autenrieth spent his childhood in the mountainous Hakka areas of
特朗普竞选美国部时(on the campaign trail)就当跟它们出分手(out of the
deal)，特朗普上任后分别闹剧也一度销声匿迹(made few public
pronouncements)，特朗普的亲友团一直针对她争议不断(spit on the
the future)，有人说他根本放弃了政权(gross abdiction of leadership)。
Story 4:Multiple “Earths”
Hao Junhe’s father, who was known as Hao Tianli（豪天立）, was in fact a
clergyman named Georg Emil Autenrieth. Hao Junhe told us that the
Chinese name of his father was, in fact, how his German surname sounded
in Chinese. In 1926, at the age of 26, he was sent to China for the
first time by the Basler Mission based in Switzerland.
Of the 3,500 planets now documented to exist beyond our Solar
System, some are pretty weird. For starters, there’s J1407b, a
distant world with rings that are 200 times larger than the ones
豪天立第一糟顶中国之时段，只是一个26春的青年牧师。In 1926, at the age of
26, Georg Emil Autenrieth was sent to China（图：豪俊与提供）
But this year, astronomers discovered a planetary system with seven
Earth-sized planets. What’s more, these worlds seem to be locked in a
strange “resonance” as they orbit their host star. Intriguingly,
three of the planets are in the habitable zone, where water can remain
liquid on the surface. And where there’s water, there is at least a
chance for life.
Fritz, Georg Emil Autenrieth’s wife learnt Hakka from a Chinese
咱们都意识了3500颗系外(beyongd our Solar
their host star)，不仅如此，7粒行星中之3粒还设有着液态水。
family in Kaying, now Meizhou.（图：豪俊以及供）
Story 5:Recent relative
豪俊和均等年度雅时同外的客家小伙伴们。1937, one-year-old Hao Junhe with his
Hakka little friends.（图：豪俊与提供）
In July, researchers unveiled fossils of five early humans found in
North Africa that showed our species – Homo sapiens – emerged
at least 100,000 years earlier than previously recognised. The finds
suggested that our species did not evolve in a single “cradle” in
East Africa. Instead, modern humans may have been evolving in the same
direction all over the continent.
绍恩多夫的市政广场。Marketplace, Schorndorf. 2016（图：HEPING）
And there was more big news in human evolution this year. When, in
2015, scientists unveiled the remains of 15 partial skeletons belonging
to a new species of human, it made headlines around the world. At the
time, researchers had been unable to say for sure how old the specimens
of Homo naledi were, but some primitive traits suggested they
could be as much as three million years in age.
In Meizhou, he taught German and English at Le Yu Secondary School and
the local campus of Sun Yat-sen University. He also studied Chinese
culture, and spoke the Hakka dialect with the local residents and
students. In the room at the school where the annals are kept there are
still some archive materials about Hao Tianli, including photographs.
This year, team leader Lee Berger announced the remains were just
200,000-300,000 years old. The findings suggested that far from being an
ancestor of present-day people, Homo naledi may even have
encountered very early members of our own species – Homo sapiens.
Hao Tianli did not return to Germany until 1947, after 21 years living
in China. His former students in Le Yu Secondary School included
doctors, professors andother academicians, and even ministers.
Story 6:Dark skies
眼看是豪天立当年为此了之客家人话教材。The Hakka text book, Georg Emil
On 21 August, a giant shadow cast by the Moon swept across America,
marking the first total solar eclipse since the country’s founding
in 1776 where totality made exclusive landfall in the US. It was
also 99 years since a solar eclipse had crossed from the west to the
In fact, from the end of the 19th century until the 1950s, over one
hundred German and Swiss lived in the mountainous Hakka areas of
Meizhou. They worked as priests, teachers, doctors,nurses and charity
workers. As well as chapels, they set up schools, hospitals and welfare
houses. In Meizhou, we were surprised to learn that the first seven
headmasters of Le Yu Secondary School and the first ten presidents of
Deji Hospital, now Meizhou Municipal People’s Hospital, were all either
German or Swiss. However, this historical fact has been largely
Millions of people gathered along the eclipse’s path to witness the rare
And what an awesome event it was. Reporting from Madras, Oregon, the
BBC’s Pallab Ghosh said: “You can see that it’s quarter past 10 in the
morning, but it seems like night-time. We’re just a few seconds away
from the total eclipse… it looks like a smiley face in the sky.”
After totality had passed, he added: “I got goosebumps; it just
feels like a completely dream-like state.”
building built in early 20 century in Le Ye Secondary School,
2017年出现了单属美国(exculsive landfall)的全日食(totality/total solar
In the early 20thcentury, Meizhou remained a poor and remote backwater.
Yet to our utter surprise, the schools and hospitals in the mountainous
Hakka areas were the first places in China toreceive western education
and western medicine. Born and bred in the Hakka mountains, the German
and Swiss descendants became Hakka Europeans, and the Hakka language was
their second native tongue. Hao Junhe was one such descendant. Thanks
probably to his upbringing and love of China,he returned to China from
1966 to 1968 in order to study Hakka and Cantonese in Hong Kong. It was
no surprise that when we met him in November 2016 he was still speaking
Story 7:Visitor from beyond
Though scientists had been predicting for years that we would be visited
by an asteroid from interstellar space, 2017 was the first time we
spotted one. Discovered by a team using Hawaii’s Pan-Starrs telescope in
October, they were soon sure that the object’s speed and trajectory
indicated an origin outside our Solar System. Named ‘Oumuamua, after
the Hawaiian for “a messenger from afar arriving first”, the object
quickly became the subject of an observing campaign with some of the
most powerful telescopes in the world.
In many respects, it turned out to be not dissimilar to objects known
from the furthest reaches of our Solar System – so-called Kuiper
Belt objects (KBOs) – complete with a reddish hue likely resulting
from irradiation by cosmic rays over millions of years. One
aspect of this cosmic wanderer wasn’t so familiar, however: it’s shape.
Although the investigations are ongoing, ‘Oumuamua seemed to be 10 times
longer than it was wide, making it much more elongated than anything
else in our Solar System.
fact, from the end of the 19th century until the 1950s, over one hundred
German and Swiss lived in the mountainous Hakka areas of Kaying
它带红衣(complete with a reddish
church in Weilheim, where Autenrieth left for China in 1926.
Story 8:Giant iceberg
church in Bronnweiler, Germany. Autenrieth went back from China for a
two year leave in 1934, he was the minister in the church.
布罗魏勒教堂里古老的壁画。Church, Bronnweiler, Germany,
One of the biggest icebergs ever recorded broke away from
Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf in July. But scientists had been
following the development of a large crack for upwards of a decade.
The giant block was estimated to cover an area of roughly 6,000 sq km –
about a quarter the size of Wales.
The calving of bergs at the forward edge of the shelf is a very
natural behaviour. However, scientists think that Larsen C is now at its
smallest extent since the end of the last Ice Age, around 11,700 years
ago. Future studies will be needed to understand how the shelf is
responding to a warming climate.
Hao drove us to his native Tübingen, where he studied for his degree.
Situated to the south of Stuttgart by the clear Neckar river it is a
famous German university town, at once traditional and modern in
character.Thanks to the university the town is fondly known as ‘the
republic of scholars’. With over 500 years of history, the university
includes among its notable alumni the astronomer Kepler, the
philosophers Hegel and Schelling, and the poets Hölderlin and Uhland.
The University of Tübingen is built on a hill, but certain of its
faculties such as Protestant Theology, Catholic Theology, Law, Economics
and Social Science, and Medicine are located throughout the town. From
the hill one can watch students rowing their boats on the Neckar in a
scene which is reminiscent of Cambridge.
After crossing the Neckar bridge and walking along the river we followed
Hao into the mountains. Whether on the high street or on the
unevengranite path to the castle, Hao walked swiftly two or three metres
ahead of us, showing no sign of his age.The castleon the hilltop is now
a university museum, giving a clear view of the town in the valley. Hao
observed that it was quite a while since his last visit, and the town
has changed significantly. He vividly remembered his student hall of
residence, and tried to use his camera to retrace his student life.
walked swiftly, showing no sign of his age. 2016（图：HEPING）
蒂宾干净大学神学院门口的咖啡吧。Cafe, Tubingen University,
Hao Junhe’s interestin China remains.He still reads the overseas edition
of the People’s Daily in his attic study. The archive materials, both
German and Chinese, which his father brought back from China, are intact
in their tidy categories. Hao has fond memories of his childhood in
Meizhou. Since the 1980s he has returned no fewer than16 times, not only
with his wife, but also leading parties of students when he was
headmaster of a secondary school. In his conversations with us, he would
every now and then mix English with some Hakka.In a television interview
in Meizhou, he surprised viewers by speaking in a style of Hakka that
was somewhat archaic.
豪俊和将他父亲打中华拉动回来的素材，保管得全有条。The archive materials,
both German and Chinese, which his father brought back from China, are
intact in their tidy categories. 2016（图：HEPING）
photo of Mei River on the wall in Hao’s house. 2016（图：HEPING）
In November 1984 the Alumni Association of the Le Yu Secondary School
elected his father Hao Tianli as its honorary president.
Unfortunately,Hao Tianli had died only the previous year. He is buried
in his native Weilheim, whence he had first set off for China many
Hao took us to see his father’s tomb in Weilheim. In the tranquil
graveyard, and by the side of a dark green conifer, was an unusual
tombstone carved in Chinese. It bears the intriguing inscription: I AM
豪天立的墓碑，在是德国墓地里显示特别。An unusual tombstone carved
in Chinese. It bears the intriguing inscription: I AM THE LIFE.
(English translated by Laura & Andrew, 2017.1)