I traveled to Shanghai in February 2019 to teach a 10-day research seminar for the Institute for Advanced Research for what turned out to be just five high school students. At breakneck pace, I provided an introduction to Riemannian Geometry, including Gauss, sectional, Ricci, and scalar curvature, General Relativity, the Gauss-Bonnet Theorem, geodesics, and general norms. In addition, the students undertook an original research project, resulting in a published paper  on “Isoperimetric Problems on the Line with Density |x|^p”  by Juiyu Huang, Xinkai Qian, Yiheng Pan, Mulei Xu, Lu Yang, Junfei Zhou (黄睿予,钱昕凯,潘亦珩,徐沐磊,杨璐,周骏飞). Every day they would order us lunch from some restaurant on the phones. Apparently all restaurants deliver to any nearby location. I especially liked the bubble-milk with brown sugar.

Professor Yuandi Wang invited me to speak on “Soap Bubbles and Mathematics” at Shanghai University, where my TA Lu Yang captured this photo of me blowing a bubble inside a bubble.

I went on to Beijing to see the amazing Great Wall at Jinshanling, where it winds it way from tower to tower over the hills. There I met Robert Volten from Amsterdam, who has worked in Shanghai in advertising (check him out on YouTube). It was a beautiful sunny day and uncrowded.










After Li Ma kindly invited me to speak at the University of Science and Technology, Hui Ma invited me to speak at Tsinghua University (pictured here with her colleague Haizhong Li and me at the famous old “Second Gate.”


I also visited the Beijing Zoo with its Giant Pandas and the Old Summer Palace. For Saturday I ordered online for 50 Yuan ($7.50) a ticket to the Forbidden City, worth the visit and an electronic automatic guide (40 Yuan, $6). Fortunately someone told me all I needed to show was my passport. On the way I went to Tiananmen Square to visit Chairman Mao’s mausoleum. Such vastness and crowds! I wandered into the groups entrance. No one spoke English, though they tried to translate with their phones. They were fascinated by this solitary American with his light-colored hair, and they all wanted to have their pictures taken with me. I finally found someone who spoke English. She thought I was brave to travel alone, though China is safe and loves peace. (It is also very spacious and clean, with lots of vast and busy historical parks. Although not allowed indoors, there is admittedly more smoking than in the US.) She thought Americans were drug users and was amazed that I didn’t use even coffee or tea. The long line moved quickly. Mao’s waxen face is brightly lit, almost glowing.

My ticket JFK-Shanghai-Beijing-Shanghai-JFK on China Eastern was just $525, including a hot meal on the 2-hour flight from Shanghai to Beijing.

One Comment

  1. Robert Volten:

    Was great meeting you Frank. The walk on the Wall (with you by my side) was a absolute high light of my time in China.
    Let me know when you’re in Amsterdam.