Renowned author and scientist Chen Chih-fan (陳之藩) died on Saturday in Hong Kong at the age of 86, with people from both the academic and literary world praising his many achievements.
Born in Hebei Province, China, on June 19, 1925, Chen trained as an electronic engineer and left Taiwan in 1955 to study in the US. He received a doctorate from the University of Cambridge in 1971.
He taught at Princeton University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), Boston University and at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU).
“He was one of the main people behind the establishment of CUHK’s electronics department,” former CUHK vice chancellor Ambrose King said.
Tang Ming-jer (湯銘哲), a professor at NCKU’s department of physiology, called Chen a national treasure and a rare talent who was able to seamlessly fuse technology and literature.
Tang said Chen had been in poor health since suffering a stroke in 2008.
Chen is also widely known in the Chinese-speaking world for his essays, several of which are published in school textbooks used in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.
“Chen’s death is a loss to the literary world,” said Chang Man-chuan (張曼娟), director of the Kwang Hwa Information and Cultural Center in Hong Kong.
Chang, a writer herself, said she had read Chen’s writings since she was a young woman.
Chen is survived by his wife.