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万物简史(MP3+中英字幕) 第129期:基本物质(1)

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7 Elemental Matters
7 基本物质
Chemistry as an earnest and respectable science is often said to date from 1661, when Robert Boyle of Oxford published The Sceptical Chymist—the first work to distinguish between chemists and alchemists—but it was a slow and often erratic transition. Into the eighteenth century scholars could feel oddly comfortable in both camps—like the German Johann Becher, who produced an unexceptionable work on mineralogy called Physica Subterranea, but who also was certain that, given the right materials, he could make himself invisible.
人们常说,化学作为一门严肃而受人尊敬的科学始于1661年。当时,牛津大学的罗伯特·玻义耳发表了“怀疑的化学家”——这是第一篇区分化学家和炼金术士的论文——但这一转变是缓慢的,常常是不确定的。进入18世纪以后,两大阵营的学者们都觉得适得其所——比如,德国人约翰·贝歇尔写出了一篇关于矿物学的严肃而又不同凡响的作品,题目叫做《地下物理学》,但他也很有把握,只要有合适的材料,他可以把自己变成隐身人。
万物简史.jpgPerhaps nothing better typifies the strange and often accidental nature of chemical science in its early days than a discovery made by a German named Hennig Brand in 1675. Brand became convinced that gold could somehow be distilled from human urine. (The similarity of color seems to have been a factor in his conclusion.) He assembled fifty buckets of human urine, which he kept for months in his cellar. By various recondite processes, he converted the urine first into a noxious paste and then into a translucent waxy substance. None of it yielded gold, of course, but a strange and interesting thing did happen. After a time, the substance began to glow. Moreover, when exposed to air, it often spontaneously burst into flame.
早年,最能体现化学那奇特而往往又很偶然的性质的,要算是德国人亨内希·布兰德在1675年的一次发现。布兰德确信,人尿可以以某种方法蒸馏出黄金。(类似的颜色似乎是他得出这个结论的一个因素。)他收集了50桶人尿,在地窖里存放了几个月。通过各种奥妙的过程,他先把尿变成了一种有毒的糊状物,然后再把糊状物变成一种半透明的蜡状物。当然,他没有得到黄金,但一件奇怪而有趣的事情发生了。过了一段时间,那东西开始发光。而且,当暴露在空气里的时候,它常常突然自燃起来。
重点单词   查看全部解释    
burst [bə:st]
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n. 破裂,阵,爆发
v. 爆裂,迸发
 
similarity [.simi'læriti]
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n. 相似,类似
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erratic [i'rætik]
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adj. 无确定路线,不稳定的,奇怪的,游走的,移动的;
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elemental [.eli'mentl]
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adj. 元素的,基本的,自然力的 n. 元素
 
invisible [in'vizəbl]
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adj. 看不见的,无形的
n. 隐形人(或物
 
exposed [iks'pəuzd]
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adj. 暴露的,无掩蔽的,暴露于风雨中的 v. 暴露,
 
brand [brænd]
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n. 商标,牌子,烙印,标记
vt. 打烙印,
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factor ['fæktə]
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n. 因素,因子
vt. 把 ... 因素包括
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respectable [ri'spektəbl]
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n. 品格高尚的人
adj. 值得尊重的,人格
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transition [træn'ziʃən]
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n. 过渡,转变
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