Minor Planets Named After USTC Professor Couple GUO and LI

  • [2018-07-19]

    The International Astronomical Union (IAU)’s Working Group on Star Names has officially approved the proposal to name the two minor planets after the professor couple “Guoyonghuai” (No. 212796) and “Lipei” (No. 212797) from University of Science and Technology of China (USTC).

    Naming astronomical objects has been regarded as the privileged honor to the groups or individuals who have made superb contributions in economics, society or astronomy. This name proposal aims at remembering the couple and celebrating the upcoming 60th anniversary of the university.

    Prof. GUO Yonghuai was a founder of mechanics and made significant contributions to mechanics, applied mathematics and aeronautics in China. He helped found USTC, the Department of Mechanics (with Prof. QIAN Xuesen) and the Department of Chemical Physics (the founding Chair), where he both dedicated to the education of USTC undergraduates. Prof. GUO was a leader of China’s atomic/hydrogen bomb projects. His pioneering work in explosive mechanics, high-pressure physical property equations, aerodynamics, aeronautics, structural mechanics and weapon experimental environment made crucial contributions to the development of bombs, missiles and satellites in China. Prof. GUO died of a crash plane on December 5, 1968, when traveling from Qinghai to Beijing. After the accident, he and his guard were found to tightly hold a briefcase containing newly-recorded data so that the data were well-preserved. Prof. GUO was awarded the “Two Bombs and One Satellite” gold medal in 1999, for which he was the only deceased among the 23 recipients.

    Prof. LI Pei, GUO’s wife, started her academia in linguistics at USTC since 1960. Prof. LI was the founding director of the Research Center for Foreign Languages of the China’s first graduate school launched by USTC at Beijing in 1978. The English textbooks drafted by Prof. LI had won prestigious national awards. Besides, she started the first-ever graduate course in applied linguistics in China. Hence, she was praised as the “Mother of Chinese applied linguistics” in recognition of her dedication in foreign language research and education. Prof. LI had always put USTC at the top of her mind over the five decades. She donated Prof. GUO Yonghuai’s “Two Bombs and One Satellite” gold medal to the USTC Museum on USTC’s 45th anniversary in 2003. Moreover, Prof. LI endowed her life-long savings to USTC and the Institute of Mechanics (affiliated to CAS) in 2007. Part of the donation went to the GUO Yonghuai Scholarship Foundation founded in 2003 to continuously support USTC students.

    What is worth mentioning is that among a small number of minor planets that were named after Chinese universities or educators, “Guoyonghuai”, “Lipei” and “Zhongkeda” (No. 19298, named in 2007) are the three with USTC-related nomenclatures.

    The stories of Profs. GUO and LI have inspired generations of USTCers. The USTC-created musical drama “Forever Love” based on their stories premiered in 2012 before the warmly-welcomed national performance tour. Besides, Prof. LI’s biography was published in October 2016 by the Press of USTC in memory of their honorable lives. Now Profs. GUO and LI will be remembered forever as the two shining stars “Guoyonghuai” and “Lipei”. 

    Prof. GUO Yonghuai during lecture at USTC in September 1961. (Image by USTC News Center)

    Prof. GUO Yonghuai (left) and Prof. LI Pei (right). (Image by USTC News Center)

    Prof. GUO Yonghuai’s “Two Bombs and One Satellite” gold medal. (Image by USTC News Center)

    (Written by XU Yunfei, Edited by HU Dongyin, USTC News Center)


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This article came from News Center of USTC.