Liu Xianlin, an expert on surveying and mapping, was seen being preoccupied with his work on a high-speed train on June 12, the People’s Daily posted on its account on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
The 78-year-old was preparing for a report to be delivered in Beijing, said the post. The photo shows Liu, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, wearing a pair of old leather shoes, with one of the trouser legs rolled up and his eyes glued to a piece of paper.
The academician’s plain clothes and dedication to his job won applause from many internet users.
"He’s truly the soul of the nation, the backbone of the country," said one web user.
"Hats off to the spirit of the older generation!" said another.
Liu graduated from the School of Geodesy and Geomatics in Wuhan University in 1962. Since then, he has been devoted to developing and improving China’s domestically built surveying and mapping instrument, and has played a key role in ending China’s reliance on foreign equipment.
In 2009, Liu led a program to complete the high-resolution three-dimensional map of moon, which paved the way for the country’s lunar probe projects.
Liu has received the National Prize for Progress in Science and Technology Award, one of China’s top prizes in recognition of scientific contributions, three times.