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万物简史(MP3+中英字幕) 第68期:事物的测定(16)

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It was history's first cooperative international scientific venture, and almost everywhere it ran into problems. Many observers were waylaid by war, sickness, or shipwreck. Others made their destinations but opened their crates to find equipment broken or warped by tropical heat. Once again the French seemed fated to provide the most memorably unlucky participants. Jean Chappe spent months traveling to Siberia by coach, boat, and sleigh, nursing his delicate instruments over every perilous bump, only to find the last vital stretch blocked by swollen rivers, the result of unusually heavy spring rains, which the locals were swift to blame on him after they saw him pointing strange instruments at the sky. Chappe managed to escape with his life, but with no useful measurements.
这是历史上第一次国际合作的科学活动,但它几乎到处困难重重。许多观测人员遇上了战争、疾病或海难。有的抵达了目的地,但打开箱子一看,只见仪器已经破碎或被热带的灼人的阳光烤弯。法国人似乎命中注定要再一次遭遇倒霉的厄运。让·沙佩乘马车呀,乘船呀,乘雪橇呀,花了几个月才到达西伯利亚,每一颠簸都得小心护着容易损坏的仪器。最后只剩下关键的一段行程,却被一条涨水的河流挡住了去路。原来,就在他到达前不久,当地下了一场罕见的春雨。当地人马上归罪于他,因为他们看到他把古怪的仪器对准天空。沙佩设法逃得性命,但没有进行任何有意义的测量工作。
金星凌日.jpgUnluckier still was Guillaume Le Gentil, whose experiences are wonderfully summarized by Timothy Ferris in Coming of Age in the Milky Way . Le Gentil set off from France a year ahead of time to observe the transit from India, but various setbacks left him still at sea on the day of the transit—just about the worst place to be since steady measurements were impossible on a pitching ship.
更倒霉的是纪晓姆·让蒂,他的经历蒂姆西·费里斯在《在银河系里成长》一书里作了精彩而简要的描述。让蒂提前一年从法国出发,打算在印度观测这次凌日现象,但遇到了种种挫折,发生凌日的那一天还在海上--这几乎是最糟糕的地方,因为测量需要保持平稳状态,而这在颠簸的船上根本无法做到。
Undaunted, Le Gentil continued on to India to await the next transit in 1769. With eight years to prepare, he erected a first-rate viewing station, tested and retested his instruments, and had everything in a state of perfect readiness. On the morning of the second transit, June 4, 1769, he awoke to a fine day, but, just as Venus began its pass, a cloud slid in front of the Sun and remained there for almost exactly the duration of the transit: three hours, fourteen minutes, and seven seconds.
让蒂并不气馁,继续前往印度,等待1769年的下一次凌日现象。他有8年的准备时间,因此建立了一个一流的观察站,他一次又一次测试他的仪器,把准备工作做得完美无缺。1769年6月4日是发生第二次凌日现象的日子。早晨醒来,他看到是个艳阳天;但是,正当金星从太阳表面通过的时候,一朵乌云挡住了太阳,在那里停留了3小时14分7秒的时间,等到云开雾散,金星凌日的过程已经结束了。
Stoically, Le Gentil packed up his instruments and set off for the nearest port, but en route he contracted dysentery and was laid up for nearly a year. Still weakened, he finally made it onto a ship. It was nearly wrecked in a hurricane off the African coast. When at last he reached home, eleven and a half years after setting off, and having achieved nothing, he discovered that his relatives had had him declared dead in his absence and had enthusiastically plundered his estate.
让蒂大失所望地收拾仪器,前往最近的港口,途中患了痢疾,有将近一年时间卧床不起。他不顾身体依然虚弱,最后登上了一条船。这条船在非洲近海的一次飓风中几乎失事。出门十一年半以后,他终于回到家里。他一无所获,却发现他的亲戚已经宣布他死亡,争先恐后地夺走了他的财产。
重点单词   查看全部解释    
cooperative [kəu'ɔpərətiv]
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adj. 合作的,共同的
n. 合作社
 
setting ['setiŋ]
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n. 安装,放置,周围,环境,(为诗等谱写的)乐曲
 
estate [is'teit]
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n. 财产,房地产,状态,遗产
联想记忆
coach [kəutʃ]
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n. 大巴,教练;(火车)客车车厢,四轮马车,经济舱
联想记忆
blame [bleim]
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n. 过失,责备
vt. 把 ... 归咎于,
联想记忆
stretch [stretʃ]
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n. 伸展,张开
adj. 可伸缩的
 
vital ['vaitl]
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adj. 至关重要的,生死攸关的,有活力的,致命的
联想记忆
impossible [im'pɔsəbl]
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adj. 不可能的,做不到的
adj.
联想记忆
tropical ['trɔpikəl]
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adj. 热带的,炎热的,热带植物的
 
route [ru:t]
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n. 路线,(固定)线路,途径
vt. 为 .
 
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