Soon after I made a plan to study the contents related to this book, I decided this would be the thing I’d strive for all my life. Hence, when the book which took me nearly 28 years is to be finished, I have many words to say.
After I was enrolled into the university for just one mark less than the full in the physical exam in 1979, the major I studied was not physics. I often regretted for this in my mind. This always led me to have a wish to understand all knowledge involving physics in depth subconsciously afterwards. Soon after I entered the university, a problem touched me very much. When I consulted the reference book “General Physics”, I found a paragraph introducing relativity roughly. As I came from the remote countryside and had experienced the very closed “Great Cultural Revolution” era in the past, I had never heard of relativity and Einstein before I entered the university.
Therefore I was much amazed by relativity and the formula that time exists in speed. Afterwards I got in touch with another formula of special relativity, i.e. the mass-energy formula. It can be educed from this formula that the energy contained in 1 gram of substance is equal to the equivalent of 20,000 tons of highly explosive TNT and the natural rule reflected is very surprising. Nuclear weapons were developed based on this formula. This shocked me once again.
Knowing these incredible scientific theories, I suddenly felt, during the development of science, there was a question in need to be rationally taken into consideration:
A city with millions of population could be easily exterminated with today’ nuclear weapons, which is terrible enough, but, as long as science and technology go on developing, more frightful destructive means would be bound to come up. So looking ahead the future in many years, means of destruction based on the approaching scientific theories, much stronger than the nuclear weapons today, but are still reachable with the non-stop progress of science and technology, and extinguished means even more horrified would yet appear some time or later. The increasingly destructive power of science will last if it goes along like this, from which it can be sure the power that able to die the mankind out would definitely come into being.
I actually wondered this simple deduce at age of 17, asking myself if the conclusion was tenable, and if it were, would extinguish power emerge and burst out? The nuclear weapons might kill all creatures in a city, but people in other places would still live along and have offspring, if the mankind were extinct, there would be no new start again. It would be late to regret if it actually happened. Nothing is worse than that. So how long would the mankind last if it should be true? If there were a long future, we would not have to rush for solutions right now, but what if the extinction were coming soon? There would be no doubt that at the moment all of our plans must be initiated around self-saving. And all other problems the whole world are dealing with concerning environment, resources, population and poverty would seem less critical in front of the possible extinction of mankind. But can we ward off the catastrophe?
I realized right away this was a question very much worth studying. Exactly this motivation at the first place supported my ceaselessly observing, reading and thinking, a book then took shape.
The book is completed, the problems in it are hanging in the balance, and hard to be solved by only our generation, I personally would like to devote my whole life in it.
I have had this sense of mission long ago, but there were many things make me feel ashamed. In fact, I started to write this book from 1988 and 1989, and I was afraid of many of the issues, so I chose to express in form of fiction in which the figures I arranged could say something might seem sensitive back then. But as I finished almost 200,000 words, I found it very ridiculous for a rigid academic question to be clearly elaborated in a novel, plus my language skills was not ready for that, so I threw the script away. Later I continued to prepare for the book, and determined to write a rigorous-deduced academic work regardless of the political environment.
Fortunately, over the past 20 years, China’s politics has becoming very democratic and free, things involved in my book could be presented unrestrainedly without being investigated. Equally important, under this grand environment, publishing and translation of news and books in China have as well getting very open, I have read a lot of materials and books which had been not accessible in the past and made my thoughts mature.
This is a book for all the mankind, I hope everyone can spell over it and love it. But this is also an academic work striving to be strict and all-inclusive, not only social science, but many things in natural science, some knowledge are difficult even for college students in the corresponding specialized field, let alone the public. So the conflict came up between the content and the target reader, my hardest work in writing this book was to solve this contradiction.
I took my daughter as an experimental object, I picked up scientific knowledge in my book and put them into many small parts, and explained them to her by stories in language as plain, understandable and fascinating as possible. If this child seemed interested in and got what I said, I wrote it down exactly; if my stories were not appealing to her, or she looked like not with me, I had to rethink some new expressions. So the first one I want to thank is my dear little girl, she was six years old and became my “subject”, she is a teenager now.
In order to make the book straight and meaningful, I put a lot work and time in many aspects. For example, the first manuscript of this book was over 1 million words, and then I realized such a large-scale book might scare readers away, so I condensed it as much as I can by 400,000 words.
In addition, on the premise of reader-friendly language, I also shortened the paragraphs to make the content clear at a glance. And I tried to not use any obscure word and sentence, and repeated some of the elusive concepts in different ways (with the above-mentioned efforts, some chapters of the book even read like an extensive knowledge-spreading work).
The book did consume me a lot, I spent little time on lessons in university, and invested most of my time in the reading and thinking around the subject matter that later in the book. After graduation, I worked in a State organ and traveled a lot on business, I didn’t have much time on hand for myself; meanwhile, with the low salary and heavy family burden, I cannot afford references and hours for reading and thinking, these were my headaches. Therefore I deeply sensed that if I wanted to finish the book, the first step was to solve the financial problem ahead of all other problems.
So after careful consideration, in early 1994, I made up my mind to quip my job and go into business, I said to myself in journal that as soon as I earned my first 500,000, I would stop everything to commune with my own heart for reading and writing.
But later I didn’t completely carry out my plan at the first place. I led a very smooth journey in business although it is something I was not interested in, soon I reached the goal I set. And the related problems popped up, many people joint me and helped my starting the enterprise, if I close the company, they would lose their jobs. Also, many projects were still going on, and some debts needed quite a long time to be settled, it was difficult to completely get myself out of the business.
To solve the above problems, on the one hand, I transferred some of my work gradually to other executives, and on the other hand, I gave part of the company’s shares to the main managers. I got myself out of the routine management at the end of 2000, and devoted myself into the last preparation for the book.
The book was finished in secrecy, and I printed a few after the fifth manuscript being completed as personal material, and sent them to 26 major mankind leaders mentioned in the Preface, and put some of the content on my website, during this time, I received opinions from people I know and I don’t, and according to which I revised my book for the sixth time and made it a final.
My first page was started on July, 5th of 2003, and the last finished almost 4 years later, during which there were 6 manuscripts with many modifications of each. That was a hard time, I never went to bed until four or five in the morning, after having some sleep in daytime, I continued writing, normally I wrote 15 or 16 hours a day, even over 20 hours sometimes. And I could not completely ignore the business in company, sometimes I had to be away on business. I loved to read and write on the train, maybe the conductors on my regular lines would still remember there was a middle-aged guy in nightclothes staying up late writing in the soft private carriage as if there was no one else present.
Because of the long-term mix of study and busy work, I got this ability to immediately calm down by picking up a book and reading after bustling about a bunch of trifling things, the ability is of great help for years of study, reading and writing.
But I am not an ascetic, after finishing certain expected content, I watched TV or went to cinema, or the regular choice- had couple of drinks with friends, but for most of the time, I strolled with my daughter.
Especially, I should like to thank my family for their tolerance of my totally opposite schedules for reading and writing. I quitted my work and went into business, and then I stopped my daily work at the company, focusing on the writing, my relatives and friends were against my decisions, so were many colleagues (all these objections were in good faith though) , only my family always been there supporting.
I also want to thank the senior management team of our company, over the past six plus years, I went to company once or twice per month, even occasionally had them coming to my home for meetings, for such a long time without me and under a market environment that not good, their hard work has kept the company move smoothly and steadily forward.
And I should like to thank other staff in my company, my handwriting is illegible, and the typist and clerical staff carefully input my manuscript into computer, did the final proofreading, and looked up translated names of people mentioned in the book. The book cover and website based on it was done by designers from the design institution of my company.
There are so many people I should be grateful to, in nearly 28 years, I don’t remember how many scholars and friends whom I knew or not I consulted around the related content of the book, I made impulse calls to many of them just after I read their work, and they have been very kind and patient to me. It is hard to list all their names though, my gratitude to them is from the bottom of my heart.
As the book’s final version coming up, although for me it is just a beginning, as the issues in my book are what I decided to devote my lifetime to research, this sense of mission is very sacred in my heart.