To Inspire. To Be Inspired. – 30 Stories on HKUST Faculty, Alumni and Students

Pop-science creator, entrepreneur, and musician, Yan Bojun knows a thing or two about how to make people fall in love with physics — after all, he once did himself. Now, he’s determined to make his passion accessible to all. When the 2021 Nobel Prize winners were announced, many of us applauded the geniuses being celebrated without necessarily understanding the complex science behind their work. That is, until Yan Bojun popped up on our Douyin feeds to fill the knowledge gap. Armed with clever, well-designed visuals, Bojun gave humorous rapid-fire descriptions of each Nobel Prize winner and their research, lifting the fog of confusion with easy-to-follow explanations of the science involved. Wearing a pair of black-rimmed glasses and sporting a classic twoeight haircut, Bojun speaks fast, almost double the speed of the average person. His distinctive style has gained him scores of fans — 5 million — on Douyin since he joined the platform in 2018. But, before he became an 113 internet celebrity, Bojun wasn’t sure what direction his life might take. He seemed to be able to turn his hand to most things that took his interest, and this made it difficult to pick a lane. Once such passion was music. Following his own interests, Bojun started learning the violin at the age of 13, and he continues to love studying, playing, and sharing music with others. Yet, he also had an inquiring scientific mind and insatiable curiosity to find out how and why things are how they are. Then, one hot afternoon in July 2004, his class welcomed a teacher from the Chinese Physics Olympiad training class. Using nothing more than the blackboard, the teacher outlined the most basic principle of Einstein’s theory of relativity: the constant speed of light. That covered, the teacher demonstrated how mathematical formulas can logically verify that, when the speed of movement increases, the flow of time will slow down. Surrounded by fellow students with glazed eyes, Bojun found himself totally captivated. He was struck by a huge realization: “This is what I want to do with my life.”