Greetings from the Organizer
July 13, 2005
Dear respected colleagues,
Precisely on this day four years ago, at the DHS General Assembly held in Mexico City, historians from all over the world and representatives of DHS commissions entrusted us with the honor of hosting the 22nd International Congress of History of Science. Also on that same day, Beijing was chosen to host the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. As the “Olympics for the History of Science” draws near, on behalf of the Local Organizing Committee, I extend to you our warmest welcome.
Lao-tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher, once said “it is on disaster that good fortune perches, it is beneath good fortune that disaster crouches” (trans. by D.C. Lau). What was once termed by George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel as the power of dialectics is now omnipresent in China, but especially so in Beijing. Soon you will see, before your very eyes, the on-going changes that our city is experiencing as it prepares for the 2008 Olympic Games—old houses being demolished, roads widened, and new underground lines dug. Some places of historical interest may be temporarily closed for renovation. Not all of these changes are to be welcomed, and as you may discover during your stay here, some changes may indeed prove very inconvenient.
Although the information age has sped up scholarly communication, expanding channels of information and knowledge, with the nearly instant convenience of email, the younger generation is forgetting (or never learns) how to write an ordinary letter, and I understand this is as true in the West as it is in China. Meanwhile, we all have to cope with internet viruses and antivirus mechanisms which slow down and sometimes bring to a stop this new age. In the past few years, many attempts we have made to contact colleagues electronically have failed, and often email sent overseas has bounced back, undeliverable. We hope that such cases have not seriously inconvenienced anyone, and if you have experienced any of these all too familiar frustrations, we are grateful to you for bearing with us.
Despite such difficulties, we are looking forward very much to welcoming you to Beijing for a Congress that will provide plentiful opportunities to discuss topics of mutual interest. As the host for the 22nd International Congress of History of Science, we will do our utmost to be of service, and should you have any special difficulties or requirements, please do not hesitate to contact our volunteers at any time.
With 3000 years of history and 800 years as the capital of China, Beijing is a city of long tradition as well as a modern metropolis. Here, history and contemporary reality stand shoulder to shoulder, science flourishes alongside the arts, and sometimes tradition battles against modernity. It is more than appropriate that at this time and at this location the Congress has set as its theme “globalization and diversity.” As a result, many of the plenary lectures and specially organized sections and symposia will focus on these and related matters, as well as the development of science and the future advancement of the human race, amongst other timely and fascinating issues of the history of science.
We hope that the discussions and exchanges we are about to have will be fruitful and beneficial. We also hope that your stay in Beijing will be a most enjoyable, productive and pleasant one.