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万物简史(MP3+中英字幕) 第219期:把铅撵出去(8)

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Finally, and perhaps a little unexpectedly, readings can be thrown out by seemingly unrelated external factors—such as the diets of those whose bones are being tested. One recent case involved the long-running debate over whether syphilis originated in the New World or the Old. Archeologists in Hull, in the north of England, found that monks in a monastery graveyard had suffered from syphilis, but the initial conclusion that the monks had done so before Columbus's voyage was cast into doubt by the realization that they had eaten a lot of fish, which could make their bones appear to be older than in fact they were. The monks may well have had syphilis, but how it got to them, and when, remain tantalizingly unresolved.
最后,也许有点儿出人意料的是,计算结果可能由于表面看来毫不相干的外因──比如动物的饮食结构──而完全失去意义。最近有个案例引起了广泛激烈的争论,即梅毒究竟起源于新大陆还是旧大陆。赫尔的考古学家们发现,修道院坟地里的修道士患有梅毒。最初的结论是,修道士在哥伦布航行之前就已经患上了梅毒。但是,该结论受到了质疑,因为科学家们发现,他们吃了大量的鱼,这会使他们骨头的年代看上去比实际的要古老。修道士可能患有梅毒,但究竟是怎么患上的,什么时候患上的,问题似乎容易解决,却依然没有解决。
铅的危害Because of the accumulated shortcomings of carbon-14, scientists devised other methods of dating ancient materials, among them thermoluminesence, which measures electrons trapped in clays, and electron spin resonance, which involves bombarding a sample with electromagnetic waves and measuring the vibrations of the electrons. But even the best of these could not date anything older than about 200,000 years, and they couldn't date inorganic materials like rocks at all, which is of course what you need if you wish to determine the age of your planet.
由于碳-14年代测定法的缺点加起来还真不少,科学家们发明了别的办法来测定古代物质的年代,其中有发热光测定法和电子自旋共振测定法。前者用来测定存留在泥土里的电子数;后者以电磁波轰击一件样品来测定电子的振动。但是,即使用最好的方法,你也无法测定20万年以上的东西的年代,也根本无法测定岩石那样的无机物质的年代。然而,若要确定我们这颗行星的年龄,这当然是必不可少的。
The problems of dating rocks were such that at one point almost everyone in the world had given up on them. Had it not been for a determined English professor named Arthur Holmes, the quest might well have fallen into abeyance altogether.
测定岩石年代的问题在于,世界上几乎人人都一度不抱希望。要不是出了一位决心很大的、名叫阿瑟·霍姆斯的英国教授,这项探索很可能会完全停顿下来。
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debate [di'beit]
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n. 辩论,讨论
vt. 争论,思考
联想记忆
external [ik'stə:nl]
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adj. 外部的,外面的,外来的,表面的
n.
 
quest [kwest]
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n. 探索,寻求
v. 寻找,搜索
 
determine [di'tə:min]
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v. 决定,决心,确定,测定
联想记忆
hull [hʌl]
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n. (水果、种子等的)壳,船身,船体,[植]花萼 v.
 
resonance ['rezənəns]
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n. 共鸣,共振,洪亮
联想记忆
conclusion [kən'klu:ʒən]
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n. 结论
 
inorganic ['inɔ:'gænik]
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adj. 无机的,无生物的,非自然生长的
 
monastery ['mɔnəs.teri]
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n. 修道院,寺院
联想记忆
spin [spin]
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v. (使)旋转,疾驰,纺织,结网,眩晕
n.
 
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