Danian Hu


Main Affiliation


Additional Departments/Affiliated Programs

Asian Studies Program

Areas of Expertise/Research

  • Einstein Study
  • History of Modern Physics
  • History of Relativity
  • History of Science and Technology in Modern China
  • History of Twentieth Century China


North Academic Center



Danian Hu


Professor Hu specializes in the history of modern science and technology (both in the West and in China) and modern Chinese history.  His recent works focus primarily on the scientific development in twentieth-century China and he examines Chinese developments through careful case studies of selected scientific disciplines, institutions, and individuals with detailed treatment of both scientific contents and relevant sociopolitical contexts.  His first monograph, China and Albert Einstein (Harvard, 2005), is the first extensive study, in either English or Chinese, of China's reception of the celebrated physicist and his theory of relativity.  This book has been praised in 2016 by the Book Editor at Physics Today as one of the “Five essential history of physics books.”  An expanded Chinese edition of this book was selected as one of the ten best books published in China in 2006.

Professor Hu has guest-edited a special issue of the journal Endeavour 41(3), 2017, which is entitled “Science, Technology, and Medicine in China’s Cultural Revolution.”

Professor Hu is currently working on two book projects.  The first, titled Physics and Politics in Republican China: the Wartime Adventure of William Band, an English physicist at Christian Yenching University (contracted with Springer, forthcoming in 2019), concerns Chinese scientific developments during the Republican period, covering not only Japanese occupied Peking and the Nationalist governed Chongqing and Chengdu, but also the Communist controlled guerrilla base areas in north China.  The second will explore the growth of the Chinese physics community during the 20th century.


  • B.E., Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing, China, 1984
  • M.Sc. candidate, Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, 1987-89
  • M.A., Case Western Reserve University, 1991
  • M. Phil. , Yale University, 1997
  • Ph.D., Yale University, 2001


Courses Taught

  • Traditional Chinese Civilization, up to ca. 1600 C.E.
  • Modern China, 1600~1900
  • China in the Early Twentieth Century 
  • History of the PRC
  • History of China’s Cultural Revolution
  • Science and Technology in Modern China
  • Albert Einstein and His World
  • Nuclear Weapons Programs in Asia
  • Making Nukes: Science, Scientists, and Politics in US, USSR, & PRC
  • Science and Technology in the 20th Century
  • World Civilization, from 1000 C.E. to the Present


Research Interests

Professor Hu's research concentrates on Chinese developments in science, especially physics, during the 20th century.  He examines the lives of Chinese scientists and the spectacular socioeconomic, cultural, and political changes that transformed their opportunities and institutions, responsibilities and attitudes, and status and expectations. He also explores how these brilliant men and women changed China through their introduction of revolutionary theories, devotion to scientific education and research, contributions to national industrialization and defense, dedicated service in the Chinese nuclear program, support for economic reforms, and promotion of democracy and human rights.



Einstein in  China

Ai yin si tan zai zhong guo 《爱因斯坦在中国》  [Einstein in  China ] (Shanghai Science &Technology Education Press, August 2006). This is an expanded Chinese edition of  China and Albert Einstein , which was elected as one of the ten best books published in China in 2006 by editors of influential Zhonghua Dushu Bao [Chinese Readers' Weekly] (2006年《中华读书报》年度十佳图书之一, announced on December 20, 2006) 凤凰卫视开卷八分钟评 «爱因斯坦在中国»(2008.12.29播出 )

	China  and Albert Einstein: The Reception of the Physicist and His Theory in  China China  and Albert Einstein: The Reception of the Physicist and His Theory in  China , 1917-1979 , Cambridge, MA: HarvardUniversity Press, March 2005. This book has been praised in 2016 by the Book Editor at  Physics Today  as one of the “Five essential history of physics books.























Book Chapters and Articles:


  1. 马丁·克莱茵与许良英:两位著名爱因斯坦学者之间的友谊 [Martin J. Klein and Xu Liangying: the friendship between two eminent Einstein scholars],” 《知识分子》[The Intellectual], Nov. 21, 2020.

  2. The Emergence of Modern Physics Research in China: The Yenching Department of Physics and The Rockefeller Foundation,” Chinese Annals of History of Science and Technology 3 (2), 004-061 (2019) (doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1461.2019.02004)

  3. From Liverpool to Beijing and Chongqing: William Band’s Adventure in Wartime China,” Physics in Perspective, Volume 21, Issue 3 (2019): 222-251.

  4. 文革”中的“无产阶级科学革命”——中国科学院“相对论批判组”再考 [“The Proletarian Scientific Revolution” in the Cultural Revolution: The CAS “Relativity Criticism Group” Reexamined]. 《自然科学史研究》 [Studies in the History of Natural Sciences], Vol. 37, No.3 (2018): 327-363.

  5. 相对论在中国的启蒙 [The Enlightenment of Relativity in China]” in 《纪念广义相对论百年专辑》 [An Album Celebrating the Centennial Anniversary of the General Theory of Relativity], 《数学与人文》第25辑 [Mathematics and Humanities Book Series, Vol. 25], eds. Shing-Tung Yau et al (Beijing: Higher Education Press, Fall 2018.]

  6. 英籍物理学家班威廉的在华传奇 [British physicist William Band's legend in wartime China],” 《知识分子》[The Intellectual], Oct. 14, 2018.

  7. Manufacturing in the Eye of the Storm: Shen Hong and the Nine Great Installations Project during China’s Cultural Revolution,” Endeavour, 41(3) 2017 (DOI: 10.1016/j.endeavour.2017.06.010) (co-authored with Lie Sun)

  8. Making Breakthroughs in the Turbulent Decade: China’s Space Technology during the Cultural Revolution,” Endeavour, 41(3) 2017 (DOI: 10.1016/j.endeavour.2017.06.007) (co-authored with Chengzhi Li and Dehui Zhang)

  9. Barefoot Doctors and the ‘Health Care Revolution’ in Rural China: A Study Centered on Shandong Province,” Endeavour, 41(3) 2017: (DOI: 10.1016/j.endeavour.2017.06.004) (co-authored with Sanchun Xu)

  10. Despite or Due to the Cultural Revolution: The development of Chinese Science, Technology and Medicine in the 1960s and 1970s,” Endeavour, 41(3) 2017 (DOI: 10.1016/j.endeavour.2017.06.012)

  11. “American Influence on Chinese Physics Study in the Early Twentieth Century.” Physics in Perspective, January 12, 2016. doi:10.1007/s00016-015-0174-8.

  12. Studying Physics in America,” The Institute Letter (IAS), Summer 2015: 9-11.

  13. "王竹溪留学剑桥 [Studying in Cambridge: Jwu-Shi Wang's Story],"自然科学史研究[ Studies in the History of Natural Sciences], Vol. 33, No.4 (2014): 445-466.(co-authored with Xiaodong Yin)

  14. "Bridging East and West through Physics: William Band at Yenching University" in Science and Technology in Modern China, 1880s-1940s,eds. Jing Tsu and Benjamin Elman (Leiden: E.J. Brill Press, April 2014).

  15. "科学史家许良英[Historian of Science Xu Liangying: A Short Biography]," 中国科技史杂志[The Chinese Journal for The History of Science and Technology], Vol. 35 No. 1 (2014): 49-61.(co-authored with Zuoyue Wang)

  16. "'Actions at a Distance': Martin Klein and Chinese Studies in the History of Modern Physics," 自然科学史研究[ Studies in the History of Natural Sciences], Vol. 31, No.3 (2012): 343-359.

  17. "Martin J. Klein: From Physicist to Historian," Physics in Perspective: Volume 14, Issue 4 (2012): 498-507.

  18. "科学史研究的良心—记许良英先生言传身教二十余载[A Conscience in the Study of the History of Science—Professor Xu Liangying's instructions and role model for more than two decades]" (in王作跃等编[Zuoyue Wang et al., eds.],《呼唤民主与人权:贺许良英先生九十寿辰》[Advocat ing Democracy and Human Rights: Essays in Honor of Xu Liangying on His 90th Birthday],香港,明镜出版社 [Hong Kong: Mirror Books],2012, pp. 137-165.

  19. "The Reception of Relativity in China," Isis, Vol. 98, No.3 (September 2007): 539-557.

  20. "周培源与相对论:清华时期的学习与研究[Peiyuan Chou and Relativity: Study and Research at Tsinghua University]" in 《清华大学与中国近现代科技史》[ Tsinghua University and the History of Science and Technology in Modern China], eds. Yang Jian and Dai Wusan (Beijing: Tsinghua University Press, 2006), 170-189.

  21. "日本对于相对论在中国传播的影响 [The Japanese Influence on the Propagation of Relativity in China],"科学[Kexue or Science], Vol. 57, No. 6 (2005): 44-47.Kexueis a leading scientific periodical in China.An earlier English version of this article also appeared in 《多视野下的中国科学技术史研究—第十届国际中国科学史会议论文集》 [Multi-Aspects Studies on the History of Science and Technology in China: A proceedings for the 10th international conference on the history of science in China], eds. Jiang Zhenhuan (姜振寰) and Su Rongyu (苏荣誉) (Beijing: Science Press, 2009), 130-142.

  22. "Two Chinese Pioneers of Relativity," 自然科学史研究[ Studies in the History of Natural Sciences], Vol. 24 Suppl. (July 2005): 90-110.

  23. "Einstein and Relativity in China, 1917-1979," in Albert Einstein—Engineer of the Universe: 100 Authors for Einstein, ed. Jürgen Renn (Weinheim, Germany: Wiley-VCH, 2005), 444-447.

  24. "Organized Criticism of Einstein and Relativity in China, 1968-1976," Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences, Volume 34, Part 2 (2004): 311-338.



Other Invited Contributions:

  1. "In memory of Xu Liangying (1920-2013)," Newsletter of the History of Science Society, Vol. 42, No. 3, July 2013.
  2. Serving as the leading English translator for the album, 铁马野风—野夫的木刻艺术[Iron Horse and the Wild Wind: The Woodcut Art of Yefu], ed. Luo Yiping (Guangdong Art Museum), et al., Guangzhou, Guangdong: Lingnan Art Press, September 2010.
  3. "In memory of Martin J. Klein (1924-2009)," Newsletter of the History of Science Society, Vol. 38, No. 3, July 2009.
  4. "二十世纪中国科技史研究有感 [Remarks on the Research in the 20th Century Chinese History of Science and Technology]," 中国科技史杂志[The Chinese Journal for the History of Science and Technology], Vol. 28, no.4 (2007): 390-391.
  5. "相对论在中国[Relativity in China]" in 文汇报[Wenhui Bao], May 1, 2006.Wenhui Bao is a leading newspaper in Shanghai.
  6. "寻找通往物理学深处的新途径:马丁·克莱因及其爱因斯坦研究 [Finding New Paths to the Depths of Physics: Martin J. Klein and his Einstein Studies]," 科学, Vol. 57, no.5 (2005): 49-50.



Book Reviews:


  1. Book review: Chunjuan Nancy Wei and Darryl E. Brock, eds. Mr. Science and Mao's Cultural Revolution: Science and Technology in Modern China (Lexington Books, 2013), Technology and Culture , Vol. 55 (January 2014): 270-273.
  2. P. Kevin MacKeown. Early China Coast Meteorology: The Role of Hong Kong (Hong Kong University Press, 2011), Isis , Vol. 103, No.1 (March 2012): 196-197.
  3. Benjamin A. Elman.A Cultural History of Modern Science in China , (Harvard, 2006), Isis ,Vol. 98, No.3(September 2007): 613-614.
































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Honors & Awards (selected)

  • CUNY Book Completion Award for my forthcoming book titled Physics and Politics in Republican China: The Wartime Adventure of William Band, An English Physicist at Christian Yenching University, April 5, 2018.

  • Invited external reviewer to evaluate applications for the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, NJ, 2017-2019.

  • Summer Visiting Member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ, April-July 2017.

  • Rifkind Center Fellowship, The City College of New York, Fall 2016.

  • Certificate of Recognition from The City University of New York, presented on the occasion of the “Salute to Scholars” in honor of one’s outstanding scholarly achievements and contributions to the creation and transmittal of knowledge, December 8, 2015.

  • Visiting Scholar, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, Germany, April-July 2015

  • Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro Member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ, September 2014-April 2015.

  • Scholar Incentive Award, The City University of New York, 27 August 2014—25 August 2015.

  • Humanities Enrichment Grant, Division of Humanities &The Arts, The City College of New York, 2014-2015.

  • PSC-CUNY Research Awards, 2015-16, 2013-14, 2011-12, 2009-10, 2008-09, 2007-08, 2006-07

  • Visiting research fellow (2006-2011): The Institute for History of Natural Science (IHNS), Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Beijing, China

  • 2011-2012 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Research Fellowship for US-based scholars at the Needham Research Institute, Cambridge, U.K.

  • K.C. Wong Education Foundation Research Grant, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (中国科学院王宽诚科研奖金), 2011-2012.

  • Visiting Professor (Fall 2011): Center for History and Philosophy of Science, Peking University;Department of History of Science, University of Science and Technology of China.

  • Visiting Scholar at Max Planck Institute for History of Science, Berlin, Germany, July 1-28, 2007.

  • My book Ai yin si tan zai zhong guo 爱因斯坦在中国 [Einstein in China] was elected as one of the ten best books published in China in 2006 by the influential Zhonghua Dushu Bao [Chinese Readers' Weekly] (2006年《中华读书报》年度10佳图书之一). (Announced on December 20, 2006).

  • Invited by the Princeton University Bookstore to attend its book signing event in Princeton, NJ (October 2005)

  • Chunhui Research Grant [春晖科研奖金], Chinese Ministry of Education.Host Institution: Tsinghua University, Beijing, 2004.

  • John Clarke Slater Fellowship for 1998, American Philosophical Society (the single recipient of the year)


Editorial Board

  • Einstein Studies series—a multidisciplinary series, reflecting the wide variety of Einstein’s own contributions to our century; 2017-;

  • Chinese Annals of the History of Science and Technology—the first Chinese journal in English promoting research on the development of science and technology in China and on scientific and technological communications and interactions between China and other parts of the world; 2017-;

  • Endeavour—a quarterly magazine reviewing the history and philosophy of science in the service of mankind; 2016-;

  • Studies in the History of Natural Sciences [《自然科学史研究》] —the only national journal in the People's Republic of China devoted to interdisciplinary and comprehensive studies in the history of science, technology, and medicine; 2015- .