A Tribute to Brittan Chance and Da-Hsuan Feng

The evening I listened to Brittan Chance’s epic, I meant, lecture, I was so touched that I knew I had to put one up. That man is either not a mortal man, or he’s just crazy. Then I found myself in a similar challenging task as Prof Feng Da-Hsuan, whom I met in the end of 2006 along with Dr. Ciechanover and Tang. Prof Feng is a wonderful person. He simply displays the act of a real man. I’ve heard his intro speech to the Nobel Prize winner who first introduced me the concept of crop fuel.; it was a class of Americana. Yet after acknowledging through the things he’s done until now to NCKU, and after hearing, reading, and teaching the intro he gave for Brittan Chance, I have found my solution. I ma pay my tribute to him and Brit here, and let the man do the charm. Again.
Introduction of Britton Chance for his Post-Honorary Doctor Speech in National Cheng Kung University
February 19, 2008
“Brit IS the personification of Superman!”
Da Hsuan Feng
Senior Executive Vice President
National Cheng Kung University
President Lai, Professor Aaron Ciechanover of the Technion and one of the newest alumni of NCKU, Senior Executive Vice President Hwung, Vice President Tzeng, Vice President Su, Vice President Tang, Dean Lin, Fuh, Dean Chang, Dean Wu, Dr. Ken Chong, one of our most distinguished alumnus, Professor T. P. Ma of Yale University, close colleagues from Southern Illinois University, Distinguished Guests and Ladies and Gentlemen:
I was given a truly impossible task, and a profoundly emotional one, to introduce to you Britton Chance, or Brit, as he is known to the world.
A few minutes ago I was pinching myself to make sure that what is happening here in NCKU this morning, with my two great friends, Brit and Aaron, is real and not a dream!
You heard already from Dr. Tzeng, Brit’s great accomplishments in his recommendation to President Lai in bestowing the Doctor of Science, honoris causa, to Brit.
Someone once told me that Brit is a Superman. That is probably an understatement. Besides what Dr. Tzeng said, which really is the tip of the tip of the tip of the iceberg, Brit is much much more.
Indeed, how do you introduce someone who at 18, 77 years ago, made his first invention of a
“Compass Controlled Automatic Ship Steering.”
Then at the young age of 25, he invented
“The first optical sensor from magnetic compass.”
Soon after, he invented a
“Mechanical Differential Analyzer for Solutions of Non-linear Differential Equations for Enzyme Action.”
Then in 1943 during WWII, he invented at MIT’s Radar Lab (which after the war became Lincoln Lab) an
“antiaircraft 10 cm autotracking Radar directly coupled to Bell Labs electronic computer and 5” hydraulically controlled guns.”
This system made a difference at Anzio and Normandy, two major battlefield theatres during WWII.
After the war, he also invented the
“electronic circuit for ENAIC,” the very first electronic computer mankind had seen!
Then he took a break to train for the Olympics in 1952, where he and team won the Gold medal in sailing. Ladies and gentlemen, great athletes normally had to train day and night for years and years, and usually do not win the Gold in the Olympics.
He did it part time! When I mentioned to Brit that professional athletes must feel terrible about this, and all he could muster enough energy to say was “I am sorry!”
Sorry indeed!
Mind you, all this, what he did, happened way before he became the “father of biophysics,” one of the “fathers of biochemistry,” one of the “fathers of biomedical photonics,” and so on and so on and so on.
So how do you introduce someone who has done so much, so profoundly and so elegantly?
Well, I don’t know how and so I will simply tell you what is in my heart.
In 1976, when I became a young assistant professor at Drexel University, a colleague told me that there was ONE person in Philadelphia I must get to know. He told me that the man is a genius, and has done superman work in science and technology and his name is Britton Chance. Surely it was my absolute stupidity, because I remembered I said to myself, why would I want to get to know someone who is not a nuclear physicist! In hindsight, what I did not realize is in fact, while he may not be classified as a nuclear physicist, he probably did more work in the field than those who claimed to be one, like me.
So from 1976 until 2001, when I was physically so close to Brit, and yet so far, I never met Brit.
Then the sky lid up in 2001, after I left Philadelphia and was invited back to Philadelphia to attend a meeting as an advisor of Peking University’s alumni association. I was placed NEXT TO, yes my friends, NEXT TO, Britton Chance and Shoko, his partner at the banquet. Indeed, if one could choose between brilliant or lucky when one is born, CHOOSE LUCKY.
What luck indeed!
From that moment onwards, my life ABSOLUTELY changed. From a few minutes of discussions with Brit, I realized how profoundly stupid I was all these years for not getting to know him, for not creating the opportunity for myself to learn from him. I decided from that moment on, I will stick to him like a leach!
What I learned from Brit in the last seven years is not biochemistry or biophysics or biomedical photonics, but to be a better man, a man who could utilize all my might to assist humanity in my own minute and often inconsequential manner!
I learned from my good friend Olivia Cheng, CEO of Aurora Imaging Technology of Boston, who is in the audience today that someone once asked an innocent child what is the difference between Superman and an ordinary man.
The child answered: “Superman wears his underwear outside his pants!”
Well, now we know. The correct answer is “Superman is like Brit!”
Yes, Brit IS the personification of Superman!
It is therefore with profound humility that I introduce Brit to you this morning!
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