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万物简史(MP3+中英字幕) 第273期:砰!(8)

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In a sense it hardly matters. Identifying an asteroid doesn't make it safe. Even if every asteroid in the solar system had a name and known orbit, no one could say what perturbations might send any of them hurtling toward us. We can't forecast rock disturbances on our own surface. Put them adrift in space and what they might do is beyond guessing. Any asteroid out there that has our name on it is very likely to have no other.
在某种意义上,这项工作并不很重要。确认一颗小行星不会使它安全一点。即使太阳系里的每颗小行星都有了名字,知道了它的轨道,谁也说不准什么摄动会使哪颗小行星朝我们飞来。我们无法预测岩石会对地球表面产生什么干扰。岩石在太空里飞行,我们无法猜测它们会干出什么。外层空间里的任何小行星有了名字以后很可能就到此为止。
solar systemThink of the Earth's orbit as a kind of freeway on which we are the only vehicle, but which is crossed regularly by pedestrians who don't know enough to look before stepping off the curb. At least 90 percent of these pedestrians are quite unknown to us. We don't know where they live, what sort of hours they keep, how often they come our way. All we know is that at some point, at uncertain intervals, they trundle across the road down which we are cruising at sixty-six thousand miles an hour. As Steven Ostro of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory has put it, "Suppose that there was a button you could push and you could light up all the Earth-crossing asteroids larger than about ten meters, there would be over 100 million of these objects in the sky." In short, you would see not a couple of thousand distant twinkling stars, but millions upon millions upon millions of nearer, randomly moving objects—"all of which are capable of colliding with the Earth and all of which are moving on slightly different courses through the sky at different rates. It would be deeply unnerving." Well, be unnerved because it is there. We just can't see it.
假设地球的轨道是一条马路,上面只有我们一辆汽车在行驶,但这条马路经常有行人穿过,他们踏上马路以前又不知道先看一眼。至少有90%的行人我们不大认识,我们不知道他们住在哪里,不知道他们的作息时间,不知道他们穿这条马路的次数。我们只知道他们在某个地点,每隔不确定的时间,慢步走过这条马路,而我们正沿着这条马路以每小时10万公里的速度行驶。正如喷气推进实验室的史蒂文·奥斯特罗所说:“假如你可以打开一盏灯,照亮所有越过地球的大于10米左右的小行星,你会看到天空中有1亿个这类物体。”总之,你看到的不是远方有2000颗闪闪发光的星星,而是附近有几亿甚至几万亿个随意移动的物体──“它们都可能与地球相撞,都在天空中以不同的速度在稍稍不同的路线上移动。这真让人心惊胆战。”那么,你就心惊胆战吧,因为它们就在那里。我们只是看不见它们。
重点单词   查看全部解释    
slightly ['slaitli]
想一想再看
adv. 些微地,苗条地
 
curb [kə:b]
想一想再看
n. 抑制,勒马绳,边石,路缘
vt. 抑制,
联想记忆
capable ['keipəbl]
想一想再看
adj. 有能力的,足以胜任的,有 ... 倾向的
 
randomly ['rændəmli]
想一想再看
adv. 任意地,随便地,胡乱地
 
vehicle ['vi:ikl]
想一想再看
n. 车辆,交通工具,手段,工具,传播媒介
联想记忆
propulsion [prə'pʌlʃən]
想一想再看
n. 推进,推进力
联想记忆
unknown ['ʌn'nəun]
想一想再看
adj. 未知的,不出名的
 
forecast ['fɔ:kɑ:st]
想一想再看
n. 预测,预报
v. 预测
联想记忆
uncertain [ʌn'sə:tn]
想一想再看
adj. 不确定的
 
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