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万物简史(MP3+中英字幕) 第190期:威力巨大的原子(04)

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It is of course the abundance and extreme durability of atoms that makes them so useful, and the tininess that makes them so hard to detect and understand. The realization that atoms are these three things—small, numerous, practically indestructible—and that all things are made from them first occurred not to Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, as you might expect, or even to Henry Cavendish or Humphry Davy, but rather to a spare and lightly educated English Quaker named John Dalton, whom we first encountered in the chapter on chemistry.
当然,原子之所以如此有用,是因为它们数量众多,寿命极长,而之所以难以被察觉和认识,是因为它们太小。首先发现原子有三个特点——即小、多、实际上不可毁灭——以及一切事物都是由原子组成的,不是你也许会以为的安托万-洛朗·拉瓦锡,甚至不是亨利·卡文迪许或汉弗莱·戴维,而是一名业余的、没有受过多少教育的英国贵格会教徒,名叫约翰·道尔顿发现的,我们在第七章里第一次提到过他的名字。
原子Dalton was born in 1766 on the edge of the Lake District near Cockermouth to a family of poor but devout Quaker weavers. (Four years later the poet William Wordsworth would also join the world at Cockermouth.) He was an exceptionally bright student—so very bright indeed that at the improbably youthful age of twelve he was put in charge of the local Quaker school. This perhaps says as much about the school as about Dalton's precocity, but perhaps not: we know from his diaries that at about this time he was reading Newton's Principia in the original Latin and other works of a similarly challenging nature. At fifteen, still schoolmastering, he took a job in the nearby town of Kendal, and a decade after that he moved to Manchester, scarcely stirring from there for the remaining fifty years of his life. In Manchester he became something of an intellectual whirlwind, producing books and papers on subjects ranging from meteorology to grammar. Color blindness, a condition from which he suffered, was for a long time called Daltonism because of his studies. But it was a plump book called A New System of Chemical Philosophy, published in 1808, that established his reputation.
道尔顿的故乡位于英国湖泊地区边缘,离科克默思不远。他1766年生于一个贫苦而虔诚的贵格会织布工家庭。(4年以后,诗人威廉·华兹华斯也来到科克默思。)他是个聪明过人的学生——他确实聪明,12岁的小小年纪就当上了当地贵格会学校的校长。这也许说明了道尔顿的早熟,也说明了那所学校的状况,也许什么也说明不了。我们从他的日记里知道,大约这时候他正在阅读牛顿的《原理》——还是拉丁文原文的——和别的具有类似挑战性的著作。到了15岁,他一方面继续当校长,一方面在附近的肯达尔镇找了个工作;10年以后,他迁往曼彻斯特,在他生命的最后50年里几乎没有挪动过。在曼彻斯特,他成了一股智力旋风,出书呀,写论文呀,内容涉及从气象学到语法。他患有色盲,在很长时间里色盲被称做道尔顿症,因为他从事这方面的研究。但是,是1808年出版的一本名叫《化学哲学的新体系》的厚书,终于使他出了名。
重点单词   查看全部解释    
reputation [.repju'teiʃən]
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n. 声誉,好名声
联想记忆
abundance [ə'bʌndəns]
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n. 丰富,充裕
联想记忆
devout [di'vaut]
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adj. 虔诚的,虔敬的,衷心的
 
numerous ['nju:mərəs]
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adj. 为数众多的,许多
联想记忆
extreme [ik'stri:m]
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adj. 极度的,极端的
n. 极端,极限
 
decade ['dekeid]
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n. 十年
联想记忆
durability [,djuərə'biləti]
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n. 耐久性;耐用年限;坚固
 
district ['distrikt]
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n. 区,地区,行政区
vt. 把 ... 划
 
blindness ['blaidnis]
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n. 失明;无知;[军]盲区
 
challenging ['tʃælindʒiŋ]
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adj. 大胆的(复杂的,有前途的,挑战的) n. 复杂
 
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