In recent years, China has made some amazing scientific advancements, especially in technology and engineering. In this guide, we’ll be focusing on four notable advancements: High-speed rail, Tiangong space laboratory, AI research, Quantum computing, and Advanced materials.
Did you know that high-speed rail (高铁 gāo tiě) is a super fast way to travel by train? In fact, it can reach speeds of 250 km/h or even higher! China (中国 Zhōngguó) has the biggest high-speed rail network in the world, with over 35,000 kilometers of tracks. That's a lot of ground to cover! This network connects cities all over China and makes it easier for people to travel between urban areas.
China started developing high-speed rail in the 1990s, and the first high-speed rail line opened in 2003. Since then, China has been working hard to expand its high-speed rail network, and now it has the biggest and most advanced system in the world. Not only does high-speed rail make travel faster, but it also helps boost the economy by increasing tourism and trade.
China's high-speed rail technology has even been shared with other countries like Indonesia, Turkey, and Thailand.
The Tiangong space laboratory (天宫 tiāngōng), also known as "Heavenly Palace" (天宫 tiāngōng), is a Chinese space station program (天宫计划 tiāngōng jìhuà) that was launched in 2011. Tiangong-1 (天宫一号 tiāngōng yīhào) was the first space laboratory in the program, and it was followed by Tiangong-2 (天宫二号 tiāngōng èrhào) in 2016. Both Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2 were uncrewed spacecraft (无人飞船 wúrén fēichuán) that were used to conduct a variety of experiments in microgravity (失重 shīzhòng).
Tiangong-1 was launched on September 29, 2011, and it was visited by two Chinese astronaut crews (中国宇航员队 zhōngguó yǔhángyuán duì), Shenzhou-9 (神舟九号 shénzhōu jiǔhào) and Shenzhou-10 (神舟十号 shénzhōu shíhào). Tiangong-2 was launched on September 15, 2016, and it was visited by the Shenzhou-11 (神舟十一号 shénzhōu shíyīhào) crew in October of that year. Both Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2 were designed to be used for a limited time and were eventually decommissioned (退役 tuìyì). Tiangong-1 re-entered Earth's atmosphere (地球大气层 dìqiú dàqìcéng) and burned up (烧毁 shāohuǐ) in April 2018, while Tiangong-2 was deorbited (降落 jiàngluò) in July 2019.
The Tiangong program (天宫计划 tiāngōng jìhuà) has allowed China to gain valuable experience in operating a space laboratory (空间实验室 kōngjiān shíyànshì) and has laid the foundation (基础 jīchǔ) for the country's future plans to build a larger, more permanent space station (空间站 kōngjiān zhàn). China has announced plans to launch the core module (核心舱 héxīn cāng) of its future space station, known as the China Space Station (CSS) (中国空间站 zhōngguó kōngjiān zhàn), in 2022, with the goal of completing the station by the end of 2028. The CSS will be used to conduct a variety of scientific experiments (科学实验 kēxué shíyàn), including research in fields such as biology (生物学 shēngwùxué), medicine (医学 yīxué), and materials science (材料科学 cáiliào kēxué).
Tiangong space laboratory (天宫 tiāngōng) - Chinese space station program
Heavenly Palace (天宫 tiāngōng) - nickname for Tiangong space laboratory
Tiangong program (天宫计划 tiāngōng jìhuà) - Chinese space station initiative
Tiangong-1 (天宫一号 tiāngōng yīhào) - first space laboratory in the Tiangong program
Tiangong-2 (天宫二号 tiāngōng èrhào) - second space laboratory in the Tiangong program
uncrewed spacecraft (无人飞船 wúrén fēichuán) - spacecraft without a crew
microgravity (失重 shīzhòng) - condition in which objects appear to be weightless
Chinese astronaut crews (中国宇航员队 zhōngguó yǔhángyuán duì) - teams of Chinese astronauts
Shenzhou-9 (神舟九号 shénzhōu jiǔhào) - Chinese spacecraft
Shenzhou-10 (神舟十号 shénzhōu shíhào) - Chinese spacecraft
Shenzhou-11 (神舟十一号 shénzhōu shíyīhào) - Chinese spacecraft
decommissioned (退役 tuìyì) - retired from service
Earth's atmosphere (地球大气层 dìqiú dàqìcéng) - the layer of gases surrounding the Earth
burned up (烧毁 shāohuǐ) - destroyed by fire
deorbited (降落 jiàngluò) - descended from orbit
space laboratory (空间实验室 kōngjiān shíyànshì) - laboratory in space
foundation (基础 jīchǔ) - foundation or basis
space station (空间站 kōngjiān zhàn) - a spacecraft designed for humans to live and work in space for an extended period of time
core module (核心舱 héxīn cāng) - main compartment of a spacecraft
China Space Station (中国空间站 zhōngguó kōngjiān zhàn) - Chinese space station
scientific experiments (科学实验 kēxué shíyàn) - experiments conducted to test hypotheses and theories
biology (生物学 shēngwùxué) - scientific study of living organisms
medicine (医学 yīxué) - science and practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease
materials science (材料科学 cáiliào kēxué) - scientific study of the properties and uses of materials
China has made a lot of progress in the field of artificial intelligence (人工智能, réngōng zhìnéng) in recent years. The country is now considered a leader in AI research, with many Chinese researchers making important contributions to the development of deep learning algorithms (深度学习算法, shēndù xuéxí suànlǜ). These algorithms, which involve training artificial neural networks (人工神经网络, réngōng shénjīng wǎngluò) to recognize patterns in data, have been used to create a range of AI applications, such as image and speech recognition systems (图像识别和语音识别系统, túxiàng shíbié hé yǔyīn shíbié xìtǒng).
One area that Chinese researchers have particularly excelled in is natural language processing (自然语言处理, zìrán yǔyán chǔlǐ), which allows computers to understand and interpret human language. They have developed several NLP systems that can accurately understand and respond to complex queries and commands (复杂的查询和命令, fùzá de cháxún hé mìnglìng).
In addition to its research efforts (研究努力, yánjiū nǔlì), China has also invested heavily in the development of AI-powered technologies and applications (AI驱动的技术和应用, AI qūdòng de jìshù hé yìngyòng). This includes things like autonomous vehicles (自动驾驶车辆, zìdòng jiàshǐ chēliàng), drones (无人机, wúrénjī), and robots (机器人, jīqìrén), as well as the use of AI in industries like healthcare (医疗保健, yīliáo bǎojiàn), finance (金融, jīnróng), and manufacturing (制造业, zhìzào yè).
人工智能 (réngōng zhìnéng) - artificial intelligence
深度学习算法 (shēndù xuéxí suànlǜ) - deep learning algorithms
人工神经网络 (réngōng shénjīng wǎngluò) - artificial neural networks
图像识别和语音识别系统 (túxiàng shíbié hé yǔyīn shíbié xìtǒng) - image and speech recognition systems
自然语言处理 (zìrán yǔyán chǔlǐ) - natural language processing
复杂的查询和命令 (fùzá de cháxún hé mìnglìng) - complex queries and commands
研究努力 (yánjiū nǔlì) - research efforts
AI驱动的技术和应用 (AI qūdòng de jìshù hé yìngyòng) - AI-powered technologies and applications
自动驾驶车辆 (zìdòng jiàshǐ chēliàng) - autonomous vehicles
无人机 (wúrénjī) - drones
机器人 (jīqìrén) - robots
医疗保健 (yīliáo bǎojiàn) - healthcare
金融 (jīnróng) - finance
制造业 (zhìzào yè) - manufacturing
许多不同领域 (xǔduō bùtóng lǐngyù) - many different fields
投资和支持AI的发展 (tóuzī hé zhīchí AI de fāzhǎn) - investing in and supporting the development of AI
推动进一步的进展 (tuīdòng jìnyībù de jìnzhǎn) - driving further progress
Quantum computing (量子计算, liàngzǐ jìsuàn) is an exciting field that uses quantum mechanics (量子力学, liàngzǐ lìxué) to perform advanced calculations. It has the potential to be much faster than traditional computers and has many possible uses, including in areas like cryptography (密码学, mìmǎ xué), drug discovery (药物发现, yàowù fāxiàn), and machine learning (机器学习, jīqì xuéxí).
In recent years, China has developed some of the most powerful quantum computers in the world. For example, in 2016, Chinese researchers created a quantum computer with 53 quantum bits (量子位, liàngzǐ wèi, qubits) and in 2020, Alibaba (阿里巴巴, ālǐbābā) made a quantum computer with 72 qubits, which was the most qubits created to date.
In addition to quantum computers, China has also invested in quantum communication technology (量子通信技术, liàngzǐ tōngxìn jìshù) which uses quantum mechanics to send information securely. In 2016, they even sent the first quantum satellite (量子卫星, liàngzǐ wèixīng) into space to transmit a secure message using quantum-encrypted keys (量子加密密钥, liàngzǐ jiāmì mìjiàn).
Quantum computing (量子计算, liàngzǐ jìsuàn): a field of computer science that involves the use of quantum-mechanical phenomena to perform computations
Quantum mechanics (量子力学, liàngzǐ lìxué): the branch of physics that studies the behavior of matter and energy at the atomic and subatomic level
Cryptography (密码学, mìmǎ xué): the practice of creating and using codes to protect information
Drug discovery (药物发现, yàowù fāxiàn): the process of finding and developing new medications
Machine learning (机器学习, jīqì xuéxí): a field of computer science that involves the use of algorithms and statistical models to allow computer systems to improve their performance over time
Quantum bits (量子位, liàngzǐ wèi, qubits): the basic unit of quantum information, similar to the classical bit in traditional computing
Alibaba (阿里巴巴, ālǐbābā): a Chinese multinational conglomerate specializing in e-commerce, retail, internet, and technology
Quantum communication technology (量子通信技术, liàngzǐ tōngxìn jìshù): a field that involves the use of quantum-mechanical phenomena to transmit information securely
Quantum satellite (量子卫星, liàngzǐ wèixīng): a satellite that uses quantum communication technology to transmit information securely
Quantum-encrypted keys (量子加密密钥, liàngzǐ jiāmì mìjiàn): keys that are used to secure quantum communication by using quantum-mechanical phenomena
Advanced materials (高级材料; gāojí cáiliào) are really cool because they have special properties (特殊性质; tèshū xìngzhì) that make them useful for all kinds of things. Chinese researchers have been doing a lot of work with graphene (石墨烯; shímòxī), a super thin material made of carbon atoms that's super strong and can conduct electricity (传导电流; chuándào diànliú) and heat really well. That makes it great for electronics (电子产品; diànzǐ chǎnpǐn), energy storage (储能; chǔnéng), and even medicine (医药; yīyào).
Other nanomaterials (纳米材料; nàmǐ cáiliào) that have been developed by Chinese researchers include carbon nanotubes (碳纳米管; tàn nàmǐ guǎn), metal nanostructures (金属纳米结构; jīnshǔ nàmǐ jiégòu), and nanoparticles (纳米颗粒; nàmǐ kēlì). These materials have lots of potential uses in things like electronics, energy, and medicine. China is a big player (重要参与者; zhòngyào cānyùzhě) in the advanced materials game, and they're investing in research (投资研究; tóuzī yánjiū) to keep making progress in this area.
高级材料 (gāojí cáiliào) - advanced materials
特殊性质 (tèshū xìngzhì) - special properties
石墨烯 (shímòxī) - graphene
传导电流 (chuándào diànliú) - conduct electricity
电子产品 (diànzǐ chǎnpǐn) - electronics
储能 (chǔnéng) - energy storage
医药 (yīyào) - medicine
纳米材料 (nàmǐ cáiliào) - nanomaterials
碳纳米管 (tàn nàmǐ guǎn) - carbon nanotubes
金属纳米结构 (jīnshǔ nàmǐ jiégòu) - metal nanostructures
纳米颗粒 (nàmǐ kēlì) - nanoparticles
重要参与者 (zhòngyào cānyùzhě) - big player
投资研究 (tóuzī yánjiū) - investing in research