Dr. Ta-You Wu and I, A Fond Memory by Hugh Ching

[Dear Amy, Attached please find my memory of Ta-You Wu. I wrote it for no particular reason, just to remember him. Best regards, Hugh]

It was in my graduate years at MIT that I came across a plasma physics book by Dr. Ta-You Wu in the 24 hour Student Union Library. The book impressed me with its excellent physical descriptions of physics phenomena, and Dr. Wu, with his extraordinary ability in thinking physics. My immediate reaction was that the fame of this Chinese physicist did not match his thinking ability. He, as I found out later, was truly a modest person.

On a lecture tour through the Far East Asia nations to promote post-science in 1990, I suddenly realized that among all the intellectuals I knew, there was not anyone I could communicate my views effectively in Taiwan. In desperation, I called up Dr. Ta-You Wu, then the President of the Academic Sinica. He right away welcomed me to visit him at his home on Quan Chou Road. After just fifteen minutes of conversation, in which I told him about my feelings about his book on plasma physics and about my background at MIT under Thomas Dupree and the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences under Harold Grad, Dr. Wu immediately expressed his willingness to help me with anything I want ! I believed that what influenced his quick decision was when I mentioned that I thought the foundations of plasma physics were wrong, both the fluid theory and the kinetic theory, and he agreed.

After our first meeting, I moved into the Activity Center and dormitory under his recommendation. Before I left Taiwan, we agreed to do a preparatory study on the establishment of a Post-Science Division at the Academia Sinica. Just when I have drawn up my plan for the Post-Science Division, my mother became bedridden in the US. My plan had to be put on hold when I start to take care of my mother nearly full-time. I also had to terminate my local stock trading job, for the purpose of expanding the solution of value into stocks, to devote as much time as possible to study my mother's situation. Even though I could not accept Dr. Wu's generous offer to help me with post-science, but I was deeply grateful to him and remembered fondly his good intentions.

Later, Dr. Wu retired from his position with the Academia Sinica in 1993 and my mother passed away on November 12, 1993. My health deteriorated with that of my mother in the last three years of her life. I had to take the first few years after my mother's passing to recuperate from my own poor physical condition. I got to know Prof. C. V. Ramamoorthy, who introduced me to Dr. T. L. Kunii. Dr. Kunii and I became the best of friends, oddly again, fifteen minutes after our first meeting when I told him that I solved the problem of ball control or prolonged contact and he commented that the solution was the solution to robot touch. He insisted that we restarted the touch and sports research. The first person I thought of was Dr. Wu.

I contacted Dr. Wu in 1995 by phone. We got to work right away. For the first time in my life, I met a peer in analytical thinking. Most my past collaborators in knowledge were discredited by me, though not on purpose. Dr. Kunii, Prof. Ram, and Dr. Wu were the only intellectual collaborators remained standing. We formed the WuKuniiChing Team to do the touch research in 1995.

Working with Dr. Wu on physics, I must admit, was really quite exciting. We debated on any and all points. I, as a descendent of applied mathematicians line of Hilbert, Courant, Grad, was dissatisfied with nearly all physics descriptions. Yet, I was also a physical thinker like Dr. Wu. In my opinion, Dr. Wu could be the most analytic Chinese in history. His analytical ability and physical thinking was pitted against my mathematical rigor and equally well-practiced physical thinking habits. The day before Dr. Wu coined the word "jumpulse," he told me over the phone that he very much disliked people who coined new terms. Then the next day, he called me up and told me that we had discovered a new phenomenon in physics and that he had invented a new word for the new phenomenon, jumpulse !

Dr. Wu felt that he was second to none in thinking ability, except in creativity. The coining of the word jumpulse changed everything. Henceforth, he became exceptionally imaginative, often sent me cartoon fax messages. Dr. Wu has transferred my solution to prolonged contact in ball control into physics. I just posed the problem of collision without bounce to him, and he independently figured out the solution and formalized it for physics. For the first discoverers of a new knowledge, all the factors about the problem must be manipulated in their minds. With the problem of touch, one must be able to juggle about 25 variables, five variables on each end of a spring. When Dr. Wu described how he thought through physically the whole problem of touch when I visited him on his 90th birthday, I was amazed that we had the some physical reasoning for the possibility of collision without bounce. If he could think this problem of 25 variables at 90, it would be hard to imaging how powerful was his thinking ability at a younger age. I wished that we had meet earlier so that I could just pose all the problems and let him figure out all the solutions !

On the other hand, my present for his 90th birthday was a Tickle Me Elmo Doll. His hands were shaking with excitement when I showed him the gift, and he wanted to know where to change the batteries. Every time I visited Dr. Wu, I brought with me a different girlfriend, and I felt he got the message. When he showed me the pictures of his 90th birthday party, and I mentioned that it looked like his marriage ceremony, he laughed uncontrollably. I believed that deep down Dr. Wu, getting over his restrictive analytical habit, was quite wild in his imagination. This creativity flowed generously when we discussed knowledge in our twice a week phone conversations for five years. He helped me to check my solutions of value and software, but felt that he would never have enough time to figure out what were wrong with all the existing solutions. My patent on the solution of value, which prevented me from visiting in him in Taiwan, was approved on March 6, 2000. On March 3rd, March 4th in Taiwan, I received a phone call from Dr. Wu and he did not say anything, but when I woke up and realized that it was a dream, I felt that something must have happened to him; Dr. Wu passed away on March 4, 2000, and he called just to say goodbye.

Ours was a pure friendship, grown from sincere admiration for each other's integrity upheld by our abilities and approval of each other's existence of a person of knowledge. Dr. Kunii had helped me to extend and make the last few years of Dr. Wu's life among the most exciting and dynamic of his life. Both Dr. Wu and I work on the Western scientific tradition of Structural Knowledge, dealing with the underlying principles or the laws of nature, and Dr. Kunii is one of the world leaders in Descriptive Knowledge, studying nature mainly from a descriptive point of view. Thus, the thinking of Dr. Wu and me are complementary, while with Dr. Kunii, it is supplementary. The concept of jumpulse contained twenty-five variables, five from each end of a spring, and was an order of magnitude more difficult than the average problem in science, which involved about five variables. The Father of Chinese Physics, with his jumpulse, which required as much perceptive as analytical ability, had personally put the Chinese science ahead of the West, where science was born. Dr. Wu had demonstrated the extraordinary and gifted ability of the Chinese in perceptive thinking. Now, jumpulse would challenge the world in thinking ability.

I bought, or forced on, Dr. Wu an exercise cycle in 1997 for him to keep up on his health. After 1998, he, instead of telling me how strong he had gotten on the exercise cycle, reported back to me how many steps he could take in his recoveries from his frequent hospital stays. We were breaking down on our communications in the last year and half of his life because of his hospital stays. Our last few conversations were from his hospital bed. I embraced him every time I visited him, tighter than a brother or a father; we were intellectual soul mates.

I have hung up my intellectual boxing gloves, since the passing of my sparing partner. But, in the still of the night, I still get the tingling to write:
"Dear Dr. Wu, Even though your definition of jumpulse is correct mathematically, it could be misleading. Reality can care less about mathematics. Jumpulse is a different animal from impulse, from which you derive your definition; relying your thinking on mathematics has thrown you off the right track. The reality or physics that acceleration can change instantly and velocity cannot give us the ability to touch or to prolong the contact time in tennis. Your definition could mislead people to think acceleration must be a smooth function..."
This would be serious stuff for the intellectual world when Dr. Wu was around to defend himself. Thinking jumpulse is not easy, but without Dr. Wu, it is no longer fun.

The wife of a close friend from Taiwan surprised me by telling me that Dr. Wu mentioned me as one of his four notable students in an article in the China Times magazine. I, of course, tracked down the article. The editor of China Times was kind enough to fax me a copy. As intelligent as he was, I was not surprised that he would not leave me without leaving me a last assignment. I am honored to be his student and shall work diligently on my assigned homework. March of every year, I start to spend at least a month working on jumpulse and stop only when interest in jumpulse ceases. This year, due to heavy demand stemmed from jumpulse tennis, I am still working on it even now in September.

After death, he continues to lead the research on jumpulse, the unceasing expansion on the web search results of which, the solution to touch, will someday touch all mankind, physically and intellectually. Jumpulse will extend the human natural ability of touch by hand at low speed to the athletic trained ability of touch by a racket at high speed, and it will raise the human intellectual level from the current 5 variables for science to 25 variables for jumpulse.

I am now trying to reassess Dr. Wu's historical position. Dr. Wu told me and others that his two major contributions are convincing Chiang Kei Shek (Former Dictator in Taiwan) to (1) allow college students to leave Taiwan for graduate studies and (2) stop the development of nuclear weapons in Taiwan. My brother Joe was on the other side, being bought by Dr. K. T. Li to lead the development of the bomb. Dr. Wu had saved Joe from committing a crime against humanity or, at least, in shaming our family name. Dr. Wu has labored his whole life for science, and in his final years he extends his scientific work into the regime of post-science with his contribution of jumpulse. Dr. Wu had brought science to China and post-science to the world.

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