How Does This Watch Work?

By Sgt. James Lide (James worked with the X-force in Burma, the Y-Force in Kunming and the Z-Force in East China. He watched the 1st convoy roll into Kunming and was at the peace-signing in Nanking)

While I was in Kunming, at Hostel #1, I befriended a young Chinese man at the language training center. We became good friends and shared many pleasant conversations. One day he came and told me that he had been accepted for a fellowship in the United States to study atomic physics. I asked him what "atomic" meant and he gave me a description of small particles that make up matter. I wanted to give him a special gift so I hurried to the PX where I found a perfectly beautiful Swiss watch which I purchased. The next day I gave it to him and wished him farewell. As he walked away from me, he turned and asked, "How does this watch work?" I showed him how to operate it and wished him another farewell.

Twelve years later, in 1957, this young Chinese physicist, Chen Ning Yang (along with his Chinese colleague, Tsung-Dao Lee), was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his contributions to the understanding of sub-atomic particles. They were the first Chinese to receive a Nobel Prize.

Below: Letter from C.N. Yang to James Lide -- January 5, 1946 from Chicago

Dear James,

Your greeting card and note I received yesterday morning. It came to me as a surprise -- not that I didn't expect you to be back as soon as this, I just sort of cannot at first harbor the idea of coming half way around the globe to find an old friend, who was my guest, greeting me here as my host. Thinking of the long distance between your home town and mine, I cannot help feeling the force of Providence in our acquaintance and friendship.

I'll tell you the story of my long trip in chronological order. I arrived at Calcutta on the 28th of August after eight hours of flight. It was my first experience in an airplane and I was really surprised to find it so comfortable. We had a little rain and some rocking when our plance was climbing over the hump but what little inconvience we felt was completely compensated by when, after emerging from the clouds around, we find below us an unbroken circular rainbow flying with our plance over the vast ancient forest of Burma.

My two months' stay in India was spent mostly in travelling. I visited the old and new capitals of India, the remains of some of the famous Indian Emperors and the "Taj Mahal", which has won the reputation of being among the seven wonders of the world -- and certainly deserves it.

I embarked the Army Transport U.S.S. General Stewart on Oct. 26th at Calcutta. In the twenty-eight days on water we experienced all the extreme weathers in the world; the mercury stood well above 95 degrees in the Red Sea and dropped suddenly to subfreezing lowness as soon as we hit the Atlantic. We did not have good luck with the wind either. A cyclone passed us near the Azores and I was very sea sick.

Our ship docked at New York on the 24th Nov. As the taxi carried me to a hotel, I was literally dazzled by the incessantly varying neon and electric lights all along the streets. From that time on till two days before Christmas I was engaged in a non-stop flight from museums to opera houses, from department stores to sky-scrapers, from New York to New Haven, to Princeton, to Philadelphia to Washington and finally to Chicago. I got really settled down only two days ago when I registered as a graduate student in the Univ. of Chicago. Since I arrived at New York I have learned that this Univ. is going to be the centre of nuclear physics research. So I determined to abondon Princeton and came here.

From the letter relayed through W. Marsh I learned that you were in Nanking in September and were one of the few eye-witnesses of the signing of the surrender terms at Nanking. (How I wish I were there too). Please tell me more about the conditions in Nanking and Shanghai when you have the time. With best wishes, I am

Yours sincerely, Chen Ning Yang