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Science Museum holds exhibition to salute Prof Charles Kao

     An exhibition entitled "A Tribute to Prof Charles Kao – Father of Fibre Optics" to commemorate Prof Charles Kao being awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics, will run from today (December 8) to March 10, 2010, in the Lobby of the Hong Kong Science Museum.

     The exhibition has been organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) and The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).

     Featuring seven interactive exhibits on fibre optics as well as information panels, the exhibition enables visitors to understand optical fibre communications and its applications. Supplemented with exhibits related to Prof Kao, the exhibition gives visitors an idea about his academic life and achievements. Admission for this exhibition is free.

     Prof Kao, born in Shanghai in 1933, moved to Hong Kong in 1948 and received his secondary education at St Joseph's College before going to the United Kingdom to study electrical engineering in 1954.  He obtained degrees of B.Sc. in 1957, and the Ph.D. from the University of London in 1965. Prof Kao joined the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation in 1957 and was transferred to the corporation's Standard Telecommunications Laboratories in 1960. His groundbreaking contribution to optical fibre communications was made during that period of time.

     A revolutionary paper addressing the basic principles of applying optical fibres to telecommunications was published by Prof Kao in 1966. The paper described the structural features of the dielectric fibre material needed for the transmission of long-range and high-volume information optical signals. Nowadays, single-mode optic cables can be found all over the world, allowing massive amounts of information to be transmitted at extremely low cost. The suggestion of the basic form and application of such optical fibres was initiated by Prof Kao's innovation work. Optical fibres have ushered in a new era in telecommunications, as high volumes of information can now be delivered economically to households, offices, factories, hospitals and even battlefields, all without electromagnetic interference.

     Prof Kao's achievements are not limited to the theoretical proposal regarding fibre optics. As an outstanding engineer he also developed the auxiliary subsystems required for the realisation of optical communication. Prof Kao performed tremendous research work in various areas such as single-mode fibre construction, the strength and durability of fibres and fibre connectors, while contributed to huge increases in the information carrying capacity.

     Fibre optics and optical communication have now brought distant peoples closer. Information can now travel around the world without boundaries, bringing benefits to business, science, medicine and even defence.

     Prof Kao's relationship with CUHK goes back almost 40 years. In 1970, he joined the then Department of Electronics as head of department. In 1985, the Chinese University awarded the degree of Doctor of Science honoris causa to Prof Kao in recognition of his leadership of scientific research at the university and the enhancement of its international standing. Prof Kao then led the university through a period of steady development as Vice-Chancellor from 1987 to 1996. Since retiring as Vice-Chancellor, Prof Kao has continued his association with CUHK as Honorary Professor of Engineering. CUHK named the north wing of Science Centre the Charles Kuen Kao Building and set up the Charles Kuen Kao Fund to support academic research, international links and student activities. Prof Kao cares so deeply for the university that he generously donated to CUHK 17 medals awarded to him for his scientific and technological achievements.

     To tie in with the exhibition, the LCSD and CUHK will jointly organise two lectures. They are "Professor Charles Kao: Pioneer, Scientist, Innovator and Entrepreneur" to be conducted by Prof Cheung Kwok-wai from the Department of Information Engineering of CUHK on December 12, and "Optical Fibre Communications: Charm and Challenges" by Prof Shu Ching-tat from the university's Department of Electronic Engineering on December 20. The lectures will be held at the museum's Lecture Hall and are free of charge on a first come, first served basis. For more details, please call 2732 3232.

     The Science Museum is located at 2 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East. It opens from 1pm to 9pm from Monday to Wednesday and on Fridays, and from 10am to 9pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. The museum closes at 5pm on Lunar New Year's Eve. It is closed on Thursdays (except public holidays) and the first two days of the Chinese New Year. The admission to this exhibition is free.

     For enquiries, call 2732 3232 or visit the Science Museum's website at .

Ends/Tuesday, December 8, 2009


The opening ceremony of "A Tribute to Prof. Charles Kao - Father of Fibre Optics" was held today (December 8) at the Hong Kong Science Museum. Picture shows the officiating guests (from right) the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mrs Betty Fung Ching Shuk-yee, the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing, and the Vice-Chancellor of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prof Lawrence J Lau.


Picture shows the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing (left), and the Vice-Chancellor of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prof Lawrence J Lau, visiting the exhibition and trying to get an idea of how light travels along an optical fibre through an interactive exhibit.




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