when I was in the US on one of my numerous trips recently, I picked up the book The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom. This is about the extraordinary life of Joseph Needham (李约瑟), author of the encyclopedic 'Science and Civilization in China'.
Quite worth reading, you might also want to check the 1-hour book presentation by author, and quite entertaining narrator Simon Winchester on YouTube Authors@Google: Simon (61 minutes)
also see Needham Research Institute
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