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經濟學人: 冬季的天氣--雪(1)

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Books & arts

文藝板塊

Book review

書評

Winter weather

冬季的天氣

The white stuff

白色的物質

Snow. By Anthony Wood.

《雪》。作者:安東尼·伍德

Anthony wood remembers sitting in the classroom one snowy morning as his teacher eyed the “saucer-size flakes” swirling outside the window. “Please boys and girls”, she implored, “pray that it stops snowing.” How little she grasped the mind of children, Mr Wood observes: “We were praying, alright—praying that it would snow until June.”

安東尼·伍德還記得,在一個下雪的清晨,他坐在教室裏,他的老師則看着窗外盤旋的“碟子大小的雪花”。她懇求道,“孩子們,請祈禱大雪停下來吧。”老師對孩子們的想法把握的太少了,伍德説:“我們其實是在祈禱雪能下到六月份。”

Everyone knows children love snow. Mr Wood’s new book is meant for adults who remain infatuated. It is less a systematic history than a meander through assorted snow-related subjects—beginning with the snowflake itself, which the author describes poetically as “the DNA of God”.

每個人都知道,小孩子喜歡雪。伍德的新書是寫給那些仍然熱愛雪的成年人的。與其説這本書是一部系統性的歷史書,倒不如説是一部講述各種與雪有關的主題的漫談。書的開端,作者闡述了雪花本身,並詩意地將雪花描述為“上帝的DNA”。

These miniature ice crystals were once neglected by scientists, who saw little practical benefit in studying them. Their disdain, however, was not shared by Wilson Bentley, a farm boy in Vermont who was given a microscope on his 15th birthday in 1880; later he acquired a bellows-camera, which he adapted to take the first-ever photomicrographs of snowflakes, being careful not to breathe on his evanescent subjects before tripping the shutter.

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這些微型冰晶曾一度為科學家們所忽視,他們認為研究雪花沒有什麼實際效益。然而,威爾遜·本特利並不認同科學家對雪花研究的不屑一顧。威爾遜·本特利是佛蒙特州的一個農家男孩,1880年,15歲的威爾遜得到了一台顯微鏡作為生日禮物;後來,他買了一台摺疊暗箱照相機,並用它拍攝了有史以來第一張雪花的顯微照片。在按動快門之前,他萬分小心,唯恐自己的呼吸影響到雪花這個瞬息即逝的對象。

Inspired by Bentley’s ethereal images, in 1936 Nakaya Ukichiro, a Japanese nuclear physicist, became the first person to manufacture snow in the lab. His research on how the crystals form showed that snowflakes develop on the fly, during their sometimes hours-long journey to the ground. The higher the humidity that they encounter on the way, the more intricate their architecture becomes.

1936年,日本核物理學家中谷宇吉郎受到本特利超凡圖像的啓發,成為第一個在實驗室製造雪的人。他對雪花晶體形成方式的研究表明,雪花有時要歷經數小時飄落到地面,而它們就是在飄落的過程中形成的。飄落過程中,空氣濕度越高,雪花的結構就越複雜。

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strategy ['strætidʒi]

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n. 戰略,策略

 
claim [kleim]

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n. 要求,要求權;主張,斷言,聲稱;要求物

 
disdain [dis'dein]

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n. 輕蔑
v. 蔑視

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manufacture [.mænju'fæktʃə]

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n. (復)產品,製造,製造業
v. 製造,捏

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assorted [ə'sɔ:tid]

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adj. 配合的,組合的,各色俱備的,適合的

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inspired [in'spaiəd]

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adj. 有創見的,有靈感的

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meander [mi'ændə]

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n. 河流的曲折,漫步,迂迴旅行 v. 漫談,緩慢而彎曲

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encounter [in'kauntə]

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n. 意外的相見,遭遇
v. 遇到,偶然碰到,

 
devious ['di:viəs]

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adj. 迂迴的,彎曲的,不正直的

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miniature ['miniətʃə]

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n. 縮圖,小畫像
adj. 小型的

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