Wu Dayou: Fun of Physics

Wu Dayou: Fun of Physics

The third teaching building (Institute of Physics)

The Third Teaching Building is to the east of the back of the Main Teaching Building of Nankai University, it is the building for the Institute of Physics. Constructed from May 27th, 1953, until December 5th, a building which covered an area of nearly 4000 square meters was completed. In winter, green pines and verdant cypresses surround it; while in spring, fresh peaches and pink flowers embrace it. Throughout the year, the old building is always full of vigor. As for physics, people may be afraid of this discipline. As to the old teaching building of physics, people may revere it. The Third Teaching Building is old. So when you enter into it on summer’s day, the breeze will cool you and calm your nervous heart. What an ideal place to study physics!

One of the pioneers of Nankai University’s Physics is Wu Dayou. From age 14 to 24, he studied at Nankai Middle School and Nankai University; he also taught at Nankai University. It was an important time for Wu to form his character, habit and foundation of study. At first, Wu chose to study the mining industry. However, after all the classes of the mining industry were cancelled, he adjusted to study physics which made him feel ’more and more interested’. He had talent in physics. Fortunately, China got another physicist rather than a mine owner.

Wu Dayou

To Wu Dayou, Rao Yutai is a teacher of vital importance. Rao Yutai is the founder of Science and Physics of Nankai University. From weak to strong, the founding of the Department of Physics was full of challenges and frustrations, while its glory was due to Professor Rao’s utmost efforts.


Unlike other privately run universities which only set up departments of arts, Nankai University opened departments of science, especially the discipline of physics in accordance with President Zhang Boling’s principle of ‘science to strengthen the country’.  In 1922, the Department of Physics was established at Si Yuan Hall. President Zhang hired Rao Yutai as director of the department. Rao endured great hardships in his pioneering work. General Physics, Electricity, Photology, Thermology, etc, started to emerge at Si Yuan Hall. Then, Nankai University’s physics equipment played a great part in teaching and doing research when Nankai University, Peking University and Tsinghua University united into the Southwest Associated University.

Among Rao Yutai’s students, Wu Dayou was the best one. He was also the teacher of Yang Zhenning and Li Zhengdao. Yang and Li both expressed their gratitude to Wu and their love to Nankai University. Wu replied to their gratitude with a metaphor:  “They are two bright diamonds. No matter where they will be, diamonds will always shine.” About himself, Wu said: “I was just lucky to meet them in the perfect time.”

Rao Yutai and Wu Dayou, were the glory of the Institute of Physics in the past; Wu Dayou and Mu Guoguang, were the motivation of the Institute of Physics in the new period.

Now, we can see such a scene at the Institute of Physics: In a crowded classroom, students are not listening to a professor’s lecture. They are watching videos about ‘Physics Today’.

Nankai University

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