Jin Au Kong
President of The Electromagnetics Academy (1989-2008)

去年元夜时, 花市灯如昼;
月上柳梢头, 人约黄昏后.
今年元夜时, 月与灯依旧;
不见去年人, 泪满春衫袖.

Life is changed because of you. How can we be happy without you?
--- by PIERS and all his beloved

My memory of Prof. J. A. Kong
by Professor Min Chen, Physics Department, MIT

J. A. excels not only in Sciences but also in literatures. Over one dinner together he tested me "Who vividly described the evidence, that the Earth is round, first?" After a while he told me "It was Li Bei, the famous poet 1600 years ago, in his poem describing the scenery at the Yang-zi river: “There was a single boat with only its sail visible at where the river meets the sky". J. A. made many such deep and unique observations while reading literatures.

For 3 decades J. A. and I have shared neighboring classrooms at MIT. Many of my students, undergrads and graduates, end up in his research group. We collaborated on the LH Optical material for Cherenkov Radiation. J. A. started an experiment at Zhi-Jiang Univ at Hang-zhou, China and at last Thanksgiving dinner traditionally at his home, he introduced to me several scholars from that Univ and arranged for me to visit them in Jan 2008. As I learned only recently, J. A. usually arranged with the Univ. to finish a full semester’s course in 3 weeks. The material he teaches fascinates students and the manner he delivers it is like gentle spring breeze and penetrating rains.

A few years back, one day J. A. told me "We must not pass away quietly as we age. We must continue to contribute greatly to the society." His words reminded me of the story of a general Ma 2000 years ago, who once said ”A soldier must not pass away quietly as he ages. A soldier should die in the battle field with his returning corpse wrapped in leather carried on a horse back."

I last met J. A. at MIT on Feb 4, the first day of class this semester, just before we entered into our neighboring classrooms. We exchanged experiences and observations during our last trip to China. A few days later, his students told me that J. A. was resting at home for a cold. I could not believe my ears when Mrs. Kong telephoned to inform me that J. A. passed away on March 12, which is the Tree-Planting festival in China, to honor the Founding Father of the Republic, Dr. Sun Yi Xian who also worked from the roots to make a difference.

For many days, I kept on asking myself "Why would the younger, the more useful, the more active and the more creative pass away earlier?" Oh, I could only console myself by reciting what was said for the 3 famous English poets Byron, Keats and Shirley, "Those whom God loves pass away first".

Poet Byron wrote for his own tombstone in the Westminster at London something like the following:
My life shall soon vanish following my dying body.
My heart protests unfairness:
Why should I have made such a trip to this world in vain?
Only my poetry will be immortal ............."

J. A. will be immortal not only for his contribution in Sciences, but also for his unique observation on literatures and philosophy as well as his devoted attitude toward education. J. A. did not leave us. He lives forever in the minds of all of his family members, friends and students.

I like to summarize the outstanding status of J. A. using this large painting hanging on my right side. On the left side of the painting my wife wrote a poem consisting of 18 Chinese characters, which says:

The spirit of J. A. is like the magnificent mountains, penetrating the clouds to reach for the sky;

The talent and knowledge of J. A. is like the waterfalls flying through the mists to flow long distance to nourish the people of the world.

Reading horizontally, the first two words of the two sentences in the poem together mean “The greatest genius”.

J. A., as one of the most outstanding scholar in the country will be immortal.

The painting also shows that there is a group of people admiring the scenery of the mountains and the waterfalls. They symbolize us and the rest of the world.

Min Chen, 3/22/2008

【聯合報╱陳敏/文 杜杜/譯】

Back to Kong's Memory Page.

Contact PIERS OFFICE: piers@ewt.mit.edu and/or tpc@piers.org