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万物简史(MP3+中英字幕) 第182期:爱因斯坦的宇宙(25)

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Hubble's luck was to come along soon after an ingenious woman named Henrietta Swan Leavitt had figured out a way to do so. Leavitt worked at the Harvard College Observatory as a computer, as they were known. Computers spent their lives studying photographic plates of stars and making computations—hence the name. It was little more than drudgery by another name, but it was as close as women could get to real astronomy at Harvard—or indeed pretty much anywhere—in those days. The system, however unfair, did have certain unexpected benefits: it meant that half the finest minds available were directed to work that would otherwise have attracted little reflective attention, and it ensured that women ended up with an appreciation of the fine structure of the cosmos that often eluded their male counterparts.
哈勃的好运气来了。此前不久,有一位名叫亨利埃塔·斯旺·莱维特的才女想出了一种找到这类恒星的方法。莱维特在哈佛大学学院天文台担任当时所谓的计算员。计算员终生研究恒星的照片并进行计算——计算员由此得名。计算员不过是个干苦活的代名词。但是,在那个年代,无论在哈佛大学,还是在任何地方,这是妇女离天文学最近的地方。这种制度虽然不大公平,但也有某个意想不到的好处:这意味着半数最聪明的脑子会投入本来不大会有人来动脑子的工作,确保妇女最终能觉察到男同事们往往会疏忽的宇宙之细微结构。
爱因斯坦与Henri BergsonOne Harvard computer, Annie Jump Cannon, used her repetitive acquaintance with the stars to devise a system of stellar classifications so practical that it is still in use today. Leavitt's contribution was even more profound. She noticed that a type of star known as a Cepheid variable (after the constellation Cepheus, where it first was identified) pulsated with a regular rhythm—a kind of stellar heartbeat. Cepheids are quite rare, but at least one of them is well known to most of us. Polaris, the Pole Star, is a Cepheid.
有一位名叫安妮·江普·坎农的哈佛大学计算员利用她熟悉恒星的有利条件,发明了一种恒星分类系统。这种系统如此实用,直到今天还在使用。莱维特的贡献更加意义深远。她注意到,有一种名叫造父变星(以仙王星座命名,第一颗造父变星就是在那里发现的)的恒星在有节奏地搏动——一种星体的“心跳”。造父变星是极少见的,但至少其中之一是我们大多数人所熟悉的。北极星就是一颗造父变星。
重点单词   查看全部解释    
devise [di'vaiz]
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vt. 设计,发明,遗赠给
n. 遗赠,
联想记忆
rhythm ['riðəm,'riθəm]
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n. 节奏,韵律,格律,节拍
 
contribution [.kɔntri'bju:ʃən]
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n. 贡献,捐款(赠)
 
reflective [ri'flektiv]
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adj. 反射的,反映的;沉思的 adj. 【语】反身的
联想记忆
astronomy [əst'rɔnəmi]
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n. 天文学
联想记忆
pole [pəul]
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n. 杆,柱,极点
v. (用杆)支撑
 
profound [prə'faund]
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adj. 深奥的,深邃的,意义深远的
联想记忆
identified
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adj. 被识别的;经鉴定的;被认同者 v. 鉴定(id
 
rare [rɛə]
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adj. 稀罕的,稀薄的,罕见的,珍贵的
ad
 
certain ['sə:tn]
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adj. 确定的,必然的,特定的
pron.
 
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