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Prof. promotes Korean culture via engineering at Brown U.

Prof. promotes Korean culture via engineering at Brown U.

Posted January. 30, 2012 04:35,   


“The West had William Tell and the East had Yang Man-choon in Korea.”

When Kim Kyung-suk, a renowned Korean scientist and professor of mechanical engineering at Brown University, says this in his class Dynamics and Vibrations, a required course for engineering students, they have no idea of what he is saying.

Yang was the legendary lord of Ansi Castle in Korea’s ancient dynasty of Goguryeo. He hit the eye of Emperor Taizong of the Chinese Tang Dynasty with an arrow in 645 A.D., when Tang invaded Goguryeo.

Kim`s students, however, pay attention to his lecture that combines history with physics and mechanical engineering if he says, “I will establish the principle of a bow’s operations mechanically. The Korean bow is the best in the world from an engineering perspective, which you can confirm through experiments.”

Since 1994, Kim has taught mechanical engineering at Brown University, a prestigious Ivy League university in the U.S., with textbooks he wrote himself. More than 1,000 students have attended his lectures and 25 students have completed doctoral and postdoctoral studies with his help. Indeed, Kim has played the role of missionary for the promotion of Korea`s scientific excellence.

Speaking to The Dong-A Ilbo over the phone Sunday, he said, “In the early 1990s, Brown University asked me to write a textbook for engineering students that combines humanities and history. So I began working on a textbook that scientifically explains the excellence of Korean culture.”

Through experiments, the professor solved the secret of a Korean bow that flies a maximum of 1 kilometer, twice and three times the range of British and Japanese bows, though the bowstring is just 120 centimeters, shorter than Britain`s (180 centimeters) and Japan’s (2 meters). Kim showed that the Korean bow has the trajectory of a two-staged rocket with two vertexes.

Many had thought Korean bowstrings too short since Koreans have small frames. Kim, however, said the short bowstring creates great impellent power and Korean bows bend to increase such power.

After completing graduate studies at Seoul National University, Kim went to the U.S. in 1989 for his Ph.d. Also the head of the Nano Micro Engineering Research Center, he received world attention last year with an article on the principle of precisely cut carbon nano tubes using ultrasonic waves written jointly with the Korean Institute of Science and Technology. The article was published in the British Proceedings of the Royal Society.