Not long after I began my research on the related content of this book, I was determined that this would be the driving force of all my strife and the most significant cause in my life. This is why today, as the book is approaching its completion after nearly 28 years, I would like to use this opportunity to express many thoughts that crowded my mind.
When I entered college in 1979 with only 1 point less than a perfect score on the physics examination, I always felt regret because I could not go into physics department. This made me subconsciously crazy about physics knowledge whenever I had a chance to learn it in other ways. Not long after the beginning of school life, there was a question that greatly touched me. When I was referred to General Physics, I suddenly found a rough introduction about the theory of relativity. As a student from a remote village with past experiences limited to the dark and close “Cultural Revolution” era, I had never heard of this shocking theory, not to mention Einstein.
I felt so surprised about the formula proving the relation between time and speed. Later, I got to know another formula of narrow relativity, i.e. the mass energy equation. According to this equation, one gram of material contains energy equivalent to 20,000 tons TNT. It shows the awe of natural law, and nuclear weapons are worked out on this equation. This fact greatly shocked me.
Seeing these unbelievable scientific theories, I suddenly felt that there was a question that must be rationally thought out on the way of scientific development:
It is horrible to know that today’s nuclear weapons can easily destroy a city populated with a million people. But as long as science keeps developing, it is sure that more powerful destruction means will appear in the future. Judging with a view after many years, when the destruction means at that time will be much more appalling than today’s nuclear weapon, there will still be no end. It is only a question of time whether it will appear. In case there is no end for scientific technology, the ever-increasing destruction possibility will also continue. Therefore, I am sure this destruction means will emerge when it is powerful enough to destroy mankind one day.
As a 17-year-old boy, I did doubt this simple conclusion at that time. I kept asking myself whether this conclusion was tenable, and if yes, would the destruction power break out when destruction means appear? We all know that nuclear weapons can destroy a city, but mankind can still exist even if this city’s population dies out. However, what if all mankind is destroyed? Will there be any chance to restart? Unfortunately, there is no way back and there is nothing more serious than this issue. If it happens, how long can mankind survive? If we can still survive for a long time, maybe we do not need to be hasty. But what if doomsday is coming soon? Undoubtedly, all of our efforts must be made at this time to save mankind. It is because all problems in which we are engaged today, such as environment, resource, population and poverty problems, are totally unimportant when compared with this ultimate issue. Can we prevent mankind from extinction?
I realize it is a great issue worth researching. And it is exactly this initial motive that supports my continuous observing, reading and thinking, and that gave birth to this book.
Although the book has been completed, we cannot possibly solve all the problems noted in the book within one generation. I will strive to solve them with the rest of my life.
I have long cherished this mission in my mind. However, I am ashamed when I reflect on the past. I actually started writing between 1988 and 1989. At that time, I was afraid to touch many problems and therefore took up the form of novels, as the characters in the novels could say what I dared not say in reality. However, after writing nearly 200,000 words, I found the novel rather absurd. A serious academic issue cannot be explained adequately in the form of a novel. Besides, my style of writing was not fit for novels. So I destroyed all the drafts that I wrote. Later on I continued to make preparations for this book and was determined to write a rigorous academic work, irrespective of the political environment.
Fortunately after nearly 20 years, the political situation in China enjoys a much higher degree of democracy and freedom. All the contents of my book are free from censorship. What is equally important in such an environment of democracy and freedom is that the publication and translation of books are also more accessible to the general public. This has enabled me to read many books that I could not read in the past 20 years and refine my thoughts, which would not have been possible in previous times.
As this is a book for the entire human race, I hope that everyone can understand it and like it. In other words, the book needs to be highly readable. However, it is also a rigorous academic work that involves many disciplines, including social sciences and many branches in the natural sciences as well. Some of the knowledge may not be grasped by university students, not to mention common people. There is a conflict, then, between the requirement of the content on the reader and my targeted readers. I spent a lot of effort in reconciling this conflict through expression.
My experimental subject is my daughter. I divided this book into small parts and told her one by one in the form of storytelling in plain, simple, and lively language. When even this little girl could understand me and find my “stories” interesting, I would write them down. If the stories failed to attract her interest, or she found them difficult to understand, I would adopt a new way of expression. Therefore my acknowledgements will first of all go to my dear daughter. She was my experimental subject when she was six or seven years old, and this year she is over ten already.
In order to make this book more readable and interesting, I also made great efforts in several aspects. For instance, the first draft of this book contained over 1 million words. I realized that readers would be easily terrified at the sight of such a thick book, so I cut off all reducible parts. The final version that you are reading is nearly 400,000 words shorter.
I also tried to write in shorter paragraphs given the precondition of readability, so as to facilitate the reading. I gave up as many obscure words and sentences as possible, and repeated in different ways the parts which are hard to swallow (thanks to the efforts, some of the chapters of this book even read like a popular science book with an extensive scope).
I have invested a lot of efforts on this book. When I was a university student, I spent little time finishing my assignments, and during most of my spare time I was researching and meditating over the content of this book. After graduation, I worked at a governmental agency and had to go on many business trips. I did not have much spare time. What is more, my salary was low and my family was rather worse off. I had no money to buy the materials I needed and no time to concentrate on reading and thinking. I was very upset with these problems. I thought that I should tackle the economic problem before finishing this book. Once the economic problem was solved, the other problems, such as the lack of spare time, would be dealt with accordingly.
After careful consideration, I gave up my job as a governmental official in 1994 and became a merchant. I told myself in a diary that as soon as I earned 500,000 RMB, I would give up everything to read and write.
However, I did not follow the initial plan exactly. I am not a born businessman, but I experienced unexpected success in my business. It did not take me long to fulfill the goal that I set up at the beginning. However, problems also cropped up accordingly. As I opened up a company, many people helped me and struggled with me. If I gave up, these colleagues of mine would lose their jobs. Besides, many projects were still going on and it would take a long time before I could clear up the debts and creditor’s rights. It was difficult to be free from all these.
In order to tackle this problem, I gradually transferred some work to the management and offered part of the stock shares of the company to the chief managers. Toward the end of 2000, I gave up the daily administration of the company and focused on the last preparations for this book.
The whole book was written secretly. After the 5th draft was completed, I printed a few as private materials. I sent letters to the 26 leaders addressed in the article in place of the foreword and also uploaded part of the contents to my own website. After that, I received opinions and suggestions from many friends whom I knew or did not and I revised the book for the 6th time, then finalized it.
I began to write this book on July 5th, 2003, and completed it nearly four years later. I wrote six drafts and made many modifications to each draft. The work was very demanding at that time. I almost worked until four or five AM in the morning every day and continued writing when I got up. I often kept writing for fifteen or sixteen hours a day, at many times even over 20 hours. At the same time, I could not be entirely free from my business. Sometimes I still had to go on business trips. I liked reading and writing on the train. Maybe the stewardesses of that railway line that I often traveled will still remember the middle-aged man in pajamas who kept reading and writing in the soft berth until midnight, as if there was no one else present.
As my researchs and work were intertwined with each other, I gradually cultivated the capacity that I would immediately be absorbed in reading as soon as I picked up a book after finishing my business chores. This capacity has helped me a lot throughout the many years of researching, reading, and writing.
I am not an antisocial monk. When I finished a part of the book, I would watch television or go to see a film. I often drank and chatted with friends, but more often I would take my daughter for a walk.
I would like to especially thank my families. They silently tolerated my reversed schedule without any complaint. In order to write this book, I gave up my job at the governmental agency and later, the administration of my own company, and was opposed by well-meaning friends, relatives, and many colleagues. However, they alone offered me constant support.
I would also like to offer my special thanks to the management team of my company. In over 6 years, I visited the company only once or twice a month most of the time. Even if I called a meeting, it was held at my home. In such a long time without me and under unfavorable market conditions, they worked hard and ensured the smooth operation of the company.
I would also like to thank the other employees of my company. My handwriting is ugly and hardly intelligible, but the typewriters and secretaries were kind enough to have helped me in typing the words into the computer. They also checked for me the Chinese and English translated names in my book. The cover of my book and its website were the works of the designer of my company.
There are a lot of others to whom I owe my gratitude. During the nearly 28 years, I sought for the advice of numerous scholars and friends about the content of this book, whether they knew me or not. I called many authors after reading their books and received their generous help. Although I cannot name them respectively, I am truly grateful for their advice.
This is the completion of my book, but I think my work has just started. I have been determined to research and struggle for the ideas of this book. This is my sacred mission.
June 2007 At Beijing, China