Like many young people, I wanted to be an engineer for practical reasons, but I accidentally entered physics when Peking University picked me into their physics department in 1977, the first year China restored its college admission system after the cultural revolution. This was really a fortunate accident, because I found myself loving physics ever since. The most amazing thing about physics is that it presents a coherent view of the world around us. Physics theory and its beautiful mathematics really works. One can make predictions and do experiments to verify them not only qualitatively but also quantitatively. I sometimes feel superior as a physicist, because we know the world much better than most people.
When I started working on my Ph.D., I began to learn that the world is actually more mysterious than I thought. This was not because my initial impression of physics was wrong, but because, by that time, I had acquired a higher standard for understanding the world. This was the time when I began to see the boundary between our coherent knowledge and the unknown. Working in this frontier of knowledge is what we do in physics research. I have gone through the typical career stages as a graduate student, a postdoc, and as a professor, initially with guidance from my mentors, then becoming independent and starting guiding younger people myself. We physicists travel to many places in the world and meet all kind of smart people. We look for puzzles and solve them. We pick up small pieces of knowledge and fit them into the coherent theory of physics. We have great fun playing this kind of game, but it also comes with a lasting satisfaction as we contribute to building this ever greater body of physics for humankind.
This frontier is expanding in all directions. Some of my colleagues study extremely high energies and small length scales; some go to extremely low temperatures and seek ever precise control of atoms; and some try to solve the energy crisis of our society once and for all. Some people, including myself, try to achieve a clear understanding of condensed matter, including solids and liquids, where things are very complex. My particular specialty is to see how geometry and topological principles emerge in the quantum mechanics of condensed matter. Such principles are highly valued because they seem to govern a really diverse set of phenomena. You can have a look of my CV for a more close-up description of this kind of research.
另外还有一段麦当劳（Allan H Macdonald）大叔（最早从理论上预测了魔角石墨烯）的自我介绍也很动人：
As an undergraduate student at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada (that’s where I'm from), I started out thinking that I was interested in mathematics. As I learned a bit about math and science, I eventually realized that what attracted me most was applications of mathematics. I remember being turned on when I started to understand that people really could build mathematical models of the world around us that correctly predicted completely unexpected and unknown behaviors. And I knew that building the models was fun. I had a few ideas for graduate studies including economics which I loved as an undergraduate. I chose physics because my girlfriend at the time, now my spouse, worked at a hospital attached to the University of Toronto’s downtown campus that was across the street from the physics department. It turned out to be a doubly good choice for me.
I have now been working on the theory of condensed matter for more than 30 years. I still wake up in the morning anticipating the pleasure and privilege of spending my day thinking about new possibilities for unexpected and unknown behavior in condensed matter, and working with interesting young people finding their own directions in science.