时间:2019年10月15日 14:32:51

Its time to go again to the A Moment of Science mailbag. A listener writes:又到了再次查看科学一刻来信的时候了。一位听众朋友写到:Dear A Moment of Science,I know that gorillas and chimpanzees can learn sign language and use it to communicate.亲爱的科学一刻:我知道大猩猩和黑猩猩能够学习手势并用它进行交流。But can other animals use sign language, too?但是其他动物呢,它们也会使用手语么?Good question. And the answer is, maybe.问得好。是:可能会。To be clear, gorillas and chimps are the only animals that have so far been taught to use human sign language.明确的说,大猩猩和黑猩猩是迄今为止被教授使用人类手语的仅有的两种动物。But some other animals do seem to use a form of sign language, or at least use gestures to communicate with other species.但是某些其它动物似乎也在使用一种形式的手语进行交流,或是至少能使用手势与同类进行交流。Like, for example, fish.比如说:鱼类。Really? How can fish use sign language?真的么?鱼怎么能使用手语呢?You know how some fish hunt in cooperation with other types of fish?你知道一些鱼是如何与其它种类的鱼共同合作捕猎的么?Scientists have found that these animals have ways of using gestures to communicate during a hunt.科学家发现这些动物在猎食的过程中会使用手势来进行彼此间的交流。For example, when grouper and eels are on the prowl, grouper will sometimes position themselves where prey is hiding.例如,石斑鱼和鳗鱼在来回游动的时候,石斑鱼会不时地在猎物的躲藏处停下。And they do a sort of headstand and shake their head in the direction of the hidden prey.接着它们会做一个头倒立的姿势并朝着猎物躲藏的地方不断摇头。Taking the signal, eels then slither in and flush out the prey.收到信号后,鳗鱼就会滑行过去并把猎物驱赶出来。Trout do something similar with octopuses.鳟鱼也会同章鱼进行类似的合作捕食。Thats cool, but does it really qualify as sign language?这太酷了!不过这种行为真的能称之为一种手语么?It depends how you define it.这取决于你如何定义手语。But typically, scientists define a referential gesture as one thats directed toward an object, isnt used for an immediate mechanical purpose, is aimed at a recipient, and is then used by that recipient to do something like chase or catch prey.但是通常来说,科学家认为,当一种姿势在指向某个物体的时候,就可以把它看作一种具有参考意义的手势。它并不是用于一种即时的无意义的目的,而是指向接受者的。接受者再通过这一手势所传达的信息来追赶或捕获猎物。 /201312/267979

When we are in a fairly dark room, or outside at night away from lights, we can still see, but wecant see the colors of things very well. Why is that?当我们在一个非常昏暗的房间或夜晚在无灯的户外,我们仍然可以看见物体,但很看不清楚物体的颜色,为什么会这样呢?There are two kinds of light-sensitive organs located in the backs of our eyes: rod-shaped andcone-shaped.在我们眼睛的后部有两种感光器官:杆状体和锥状体。Both rods and cones are sensitive to light.它们都对光线敏感。The difference between them is that therods allow us to see in very dim light but dont permit detection of color, while the cones let ussee color but they dont work in dim light.而它们的差别就在于,杆状体能让我们看见昏暗的光线下的东西,但无法辨别颜色;而锥状体能让我们辨别物体的颜色,但在昏暗的灯光下却无法发挥作用。When it gets dark the cones lose their ability to respond to light.当光线变暗时,锥状体失去对光线做出反应的能力。The rods continue to respond toavailable light, but since they cannot see color, so to speak, everything appears to be variousshades of black and white and gray.而杆状体继续对光线做出反应,但由于它不能帮助人们识别颜色,因此所有的物体看上去都是不同形状的黑色、白色或者灰色。A curious thing is that in dim light you can see more clearly out of the side of your eye, becausethe light-sensitive rods are more highly concentrated off to the side in the back of your eye.奇特的是,在光线暗淡情况下,通过眼睛两边的余光你能看得更清晰,因为杆状体更集中地分布在眼睛后部的边侧。So, next time youre out on a clear night, notice how little color you can see, and how you can see objects like dim stars better out of the corner of your eye than from the center.所以,下次在一个晴朗的夜晚外出,留意一下你是不是看不见什么颜色,并且关注一下用眼角的余光看东西,例如晦暗的星星,会不会比正视看效果更好。 201404/289599

Finance and economics财经商业Reforming the World Bank世界,亟待重整Zen and the art of poverty reduction禅宗思想及扶贫艺术Calm and confusion at the worlds biggest development institution世界最大发展机构—平静与骚乱并存THE World Bank may need a period of quiet reflection, but this was ridiculous.世界可能需要一段时间来安静的反思,但这在过去是荒谬可笑的。On September 10th 300 bankers joined Thich Nhat Hanh, an 87-year-old Vietnamese monk and founder of the Order of Interbeing, for a day of mindful meditation with Jim Kim, the banks president and an admirer of Mr Hanh.九月十日,300名家以及世界行长吉姆金同现年87岁的越南高僧一行禅师进行了为期一天的静心冥想的活动。一行禅师创立了相即共修团,且吉姆金是他的崇拜者之一。It was all very Zen, one member of staff told the Washington Post.一切都弥漫着佛教气息,其中一位家对华盛顿邮报如是说。Afterwards, Mr Hanh and 20 brown-robed brethren led a walking meditation through Washington—though since the traffic police did not show up, the quiet contemplation was marred by the not-so-Zen honking of angry drivers.在这之后,一行禅师和其他20名身穿棕色长袍的同胞们在华盛顿进行了步行禅修的活动。但由于在行进过程中没有交通警察维持秩序,这场安静的冥想被不那么禅的愤怒司机的喇叭声所打扰。Mr Hanh says he believes in the power of aimlessness and thinks civilisation is threatened by voracious economic growth. Mr Kim does not. He is trying to give the bank a sharper focus.一行禅师说,他深信无目的的力量,认为贪得无厌的经济增长威胁着现代的文明。吉姆先生但不这样认为。他正尝试着给与世界一个更加清晰的重点。In the unlovely words of a new strategy, endorsed by the banks governors on October 12th, the groups value proposition is to end extreme poverty by 2030 and to foster income growth among the poorest 40% in every country, not just poor ones.该组织的新策略价值观主张在十月十二日受到世界管理者的持。该策略的并不讨喜的语言表达了在2030年结束极端贫困并促进每个国家最贫穷的40%的人的收入增长,而不仅仅是穷人们。The aim is to shake up the worlds leading development body.目的在于震撼这个世界上领导性的发展主体。Since it began, the World Bank has run almost 12,000 projects in 172 countries.自从该策略开始施行,世界已经在172个国家运作了12000个项目。But voracious economic growth in the past 25 years has meant that the banks lending has fallen to less than 1% of the combined economic output of the borrowers.但是过去25年突飞猛进的经济增长已经意味着世界的贷款在借款者复合经济产量中所占比率应经下降到不足1%。As more nations graduate to middle-income status and win access to capital markets for big development projects, fewer of them need the money and expertise the bank has to offer.随着越来越多的国家逐渐迈入中等收入行列并获得进入资本市场有大发展项目的机会,越来越少的国家需要世界提供的资金和技术。Having a target for eradicating poverty aims to finesse this.为消除贫困设定目标旨在细化贫困问题。Extreme poverty is a global problem and would justify a global institution devoted to ending it.极端贫困是一个全球问题,而且这个事实明急需一个全球机制以期结束贫困问题。One billion people live on less than 1.25 aday, most of them in what the bank calls middle-income countries such as India and Brazil.目前有十亿人口每天靠不足1.25美元生活,且他们中的大多数都居住在世界所称的总等收入水平的国家中,比如印度和巴西。The bottom 40% includes a further 1.5 billion people.还有15亿人也属于40%的生活在贫困线以下的人群。So carving out a role in poverty eradication would make the bank relevant to middle-income countries even though their governments might not need its money any more and might think the bank has little to offer their growing middle classes.所以要在消除贫困中发挥作用,就意味着要与中等收入国家建立联系。即使这些国家政府可能认为他们不再需要世界的资金,而且觉得对于他们这些正在发展中的中产阶级没有任何帮助。How much difference the new strategy will make from day to day, though, is open to question.但是这个新策略会日渐产生什么样的作用仍然是一个未知数。The bank is aly supposed to be helping the poorest; the new goal marks only a shift in emphasis and, on the face of it, will not stop it doing most of what it is doing now.世界已经将目光着眼于援助最贫困的国家,新的目标只是标志着他们重心的转移,而且从表面来看,该也不会停止大多数现在正在做的事情。The aim of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 is not overly ambitious.在2030年消除极端贫困的目标也并不过于盲目自信。Recent data suggest the income of the bottom 40% has been growing as fast as, or faster than, the national average in most developing countries for 25 years.最新数据表明,在过去的25年里40%的最贫困人口的收入的增长速度已经达到甚至超过大多数发展中国家的平均国民收入的增长速度。So does the new approach matter?所以新的方法还是那么重要么?The rhetorical change probably does not, but the reorganisation which accompanies it might.夸张惊人的变化似乎不太可能,但是随之而来的重组还是可能会发生的。For years, the World Bank has been organised along geographic lines.这些年来,世界一直根据地域区域来组织机构。The regions control the budgets, hire the staff and dominate the bank.这些区域性的内部机构控制的预算,雇佣员工和管理。They are also responsible for its reputation for being divided into silos: experts from different regions rarely talk to each other.这些机构对他们封闭机构的名声负责,即来自不同地方的专家甚少相互交流。In an attempt to break this pattern, the bank is setting up 14 global practices which will cut across the regions.为了打破这个固定模式,世界建立起14项国际组织来将这些地区打破地域性。The bank has also long been accused of doing too much.世界长久以来也被人们指责其过多的所作所为。It runs a tiger-conservation project, for instance.其经营的一个保护老虎的项目就是一个例子。To provide clearer priorities, the plan proposes a new method for deciding what countries need.为了规定更加清晰明了的先后顺序,该计划提出了一个新方法来决定一些国家需要什么帮助。The idea is to diagnose the worst constraints on poverty reduction and focus mainly on those.这个方法旨在找出减少贫困的最大绊脚石并几种主要精力来解决这些问题。When the bank ran a pilot country diagnostic for India, it found it needed to concentrate more of its efforts in the six poorest states.当该行在印度首次进行乡村诊断法时,其发现他们需要将他们的精力更多地集中于六个最贫困的邦郡。The bank has a history, however, of grandiose reorganisations.但是世界的大规模改组已经由来已久。One comes along every decade.每十年就会发生一次。They rarely achieve much.但他们总是收效甚微。There are several reasons why this shake-up might be no different.此次改组可能并无多大变化,这有各方面的原因。Diagnosing constraints sounds like an excellent idea.找出约束改组的限制条件听起来是一个绝妙的主意。But it turns out that no sooner have you identified one supposedly crucial obstacle than another appears behind it.但是事实明问题层出不穷,你刚发现一个潜在的重大困难,另一个问题又开始浮现。The model might not always give the clear guidance that it did for India.这个模范实验在印度所起的作用可能无法给其他地方一目了然的指导。Neither is it certain whether the global practices are intended to be more important than the regional units, or whether the two are supposed to be evenly balanced, and if so, how.国际实践是否将会比区域行的团体更重要,或者二者被猜测可以平分秋色以及假如这一事实成立,各自应该怎样发挥作用,这两个问题到现在都无法确定。Setting up global practices also risks turning the bank into a glorified McKinsey in which experts jet in to advise on a big project and jet out—a tendency for which development agencies are aly rightly criticised.建立一个全球性实践行动意味着将冒着把转变成一个光辉闪耀的麦肯锡公司。该公司内的专家总是对于大型项目妄下论断然后又突然抽离开来。这个趋势已经使得许多发展机构备受争议。Then there are doubts about Mr Kim himself.于是这使得吉姆先生本人也受到人们怀疑。He has had a wobbly start since being foisted on the bank by the American government last year.他上任时面临着不利的工作局面,因为其去年被美国政府安插在世界。After winning over many at first, he found himself under attack this summer when senior people began leaving in a huff, or were fired, as the reorganisation took shape.在开始收获诸多人心之后,这个夏天随着重组逐渐成型,该行许多元老开始愤怒的辞职或解雇,他发现自己正处在风口浪尖处。The grumbling has since died down, but confidence among employees looks shaky.人们的怨声载道有所平息,但是雇员们的信心看起来不容乐观。And what if the plan succeeds?但是如果这项计划大获全胜呢?Then the institution would face a different problem.那么这个机构就会面临着一个不同的问题。If it is all about reducing poverty and extreme poverty is eradicated by 2030, what role would be left to it then?如果这全部都是为了减少贫困而且在2030年极端贫困将不复存在,那么世界还会有什么样的作用呢?No doubt it will think of something.毫无疑问它会好好考虑一下了。 /201312/271076

Youve just opened a bottle of wine for dinner.设想一下,你在晚餐时刚刚打开了一瓶酒,On the label,you see these words: Contains Sulfites.你会在酒瓶的标签上看到:含亚硫酸盐。What are sulfites?亚硫酸盐是什么?And what are they doing in your wine?这些成分在你的酒中发挥什么样的作用呢?Sulfites are chemical compounds found naturally in grapes, garlic and other plants.亚硫酸盐是在葡萄,大蒜和其他植物中常见的一种化合物。Thousands ofyears ago, people realized something nifty about sulfites: they kill or slow the growth of bacteriaand most yeasts.几千年前,人们就发现了亚硫酸盐的一些妙用:它们能杀死细菌,或者降低细菌滋生和发酵的速度。This comes in handy for winemakers, who add specific yeasts to ferment wine,and dont want wild yeasts or bacteria to spoil it.这个发现对于酿酒师来说是非常重要的,他们通常会在酒中加一些特定的酵母使酒发酵,但是同时,他们又不想野生酵母和细菌破坏了这个过程。Sulfites prevent spoilage in wine, acting as apreservative.而亚硫酸盐就能阻止酒的腐坏,在其中发挥了防腐剂的作用。The amount of sulfites naturally in grapes is very small, and theres a bit more produced duringfermentation.葡萄中含有亚硫酸盐的量非常少,在发酵过程中数量会有稍许的增加。But to take full advantage of sulfites preservative abilities, winemakers add a littlemore to the process.但是,为了有效利用亚硫酸盐的防腐作用,酿酒师们通常会在酿酒过程中多添加一点点亚硫酸盐。The Egyptians sterilized wine containers with sulfites, and sulfites have beenadded to wine for hundreds of years.埃及人也曾使用亚硫酸盐对酒类容器进行杀菌,而且,亚硫酸盐被添加进入酒类也已经有了几百年历史了。So the relationship between wine and sulfites goes way back.因此,酒和亚硫酸盐的关系其实可以回溯到很久很久以前。But in 1985, the Food and DrugAdministration required wine with added sulfites to say so on the label. Why?但在1985年,食品与药品要求,若酒类有添加亚硫酸盐,需要在标签上注明,为什么?Researchers had recently discovered that less than one percent of the population is sensitive tosulfites.因为有研究人员之前发现,有不到1%的人会对亚硫酸盐产生过敏反应,Most have mild reactions, like an itchy rash.虽然多数人的反应比较轻微,比如说会起很痒的皮疹,But some folks have life-threatening reactions,including difficulty breathing and low blood pressure.但有部分人的过敏反应会威胁到生命安全,这些反应包括呼吸困难或低血压等。These rare but serious reactions are most often seen in asthmatics.我们经常会在哮喘症患者身上看到这些少有但严重的反应。Not all asthmatics are sensitiveto sulfites, but the labels there for those who need to steer clear.其实,也并不是所有的哮喘症患者都会对亚硫酸盐过敏,标签上的说明只是为了警示需要注意的人避开这些成分。As the old saying goes, inwine–and now on the label–there is truth!就像老话常说的那样,酒后,现在是标注在标签上吐真言! 201402/277827

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