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Legacies of NTU - No. 11
“Campus Life” Display Reveals Thoughts of Struggling Researcher: Gallery of NTU History

At the Gallery of NTU History, the “Campus Life” exhibition is an area where photos and artifacts related to life in NTU throughout the decades is being displayed. As the exhibition is closely related to life at TAIDA, it is able to resonate a strong sense of identity and recognition from our students, faculty, staff and alumni.

The “Campus Life” collection is divided into six themes related to everyday life. Among the themes is the “Scholastic Pursuits” display area where an antique document cabinet that had belonged to Professor Tyôzaburô Tanaka of Taihoku Imperial University (NTU’s Japanese predecessor) since 1930 can be found. The cabinet was later used by Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture Professor You-De Kang (康有德) until retirement in 1995. As both professors were experts in fruits, the former in citrus and the latter in grapes, the cabinet literally bears over half a decade of research.

The note of encouragement that Professor Kang had written to himself in 1963.
(Image: Gallery of NTU History)

Yet among the hundreds of faded manuscripts, we found a piece of paper that looked quite different from the others, and on its oxidized surface, the following note was written:

“A researcher may have to go through 1,000 failed experiments to reach a conclusion, but as long as success is found in the 1,001 try, the time and money spent on previous failures would be worth the while, and the wait. -- This is what I firmly believe in.

The note tells the story of a researcher struggling to make a breakthrough. From its date, we deduced that the words of encouragement might have been written by Professor Kang, therefore, we set out to visit the esteemed scholar so as to confirm our conjecture.

The 86-year-old professor confirmed that it was indeed his handwriting, but he admitted that he did not remember why he had written such a note. “I think it was because I was reprimanded by my senior colleagues for spending too much money on my experiments,” he said.

For the next hour or so, Professor Kang shared with us the many interesting stories about his life in NTU. But before leaving, we couldn’t help but ask again whether his experiment had finally succeeded. Upon this, he clapped his hands and exclaimed, “I’m guessing that neither the 1,001 nor the 1,002 experiments were successful!”

Visit the Gallery of NTU’s History’s Facebook page and official website for more interesting stories, or go to the NTU Museums website to learn more about our legacies.

National Taiwan University is home to an abundance of educational and cultural artifacts that bear the history of the campus’ past. As a result, the NTU Museums project, a campaign that integrates the university’s ten individual museums, was launched in 2005 and officially inaugurated in 2007 so that the school’s hidden treasures could be introduced to the public. To honor the school’s past, the “Legacies of NTU” series will feature the stories of NTU’s hidden treasures by taking you through the most precious items among the university’s collection.

Chinese version