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Science and technology科学技术Meteorology气象学Counting raindrops雨量计算How to use mobile-phone networks for weather forecasting怎样利用移动手机网络预报天气FORECASTING the weather requires huge quantities of data.天气预报需要大量的数据信息。Many of these data are collected by high-tech means such as satellites and radar, and then crunched by some of the worlds fastest supercomputers into predictions that are far more accurate than they were 20 years ago.大部分数据是通过高科技产品,比如卫星和雷达收集起来,然后,由世界上运算最快的超级计算机来处理这些数据后进行预测,现在的预报已经比二十年前准确多了。But low-tech tools are important too—especially old-fashioned rain gauges, which are nothing more than tubes with funnels fixed to places such as rooftops.但是,技术层次较低的工具也同样重要—特别是老式的雨量计,其实只是把带有漏斗的量管固定在类似屋顶的位置。Each technique has its upsides and downsides.每种技术都有优缺点。Radar and satellites can cover swathes of land, yet they lack detail.雷达和卫星可以覆盖很多地带,但是缺乏细节性。Gauges are much more accurate, but the price of that accuracy is spotty coverage.相比较而言,雨量计更加准确,但是这种覆盖面准确度的价值却参差不齐。Now, though, Aart Overeem of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and his colleagues reckon they have come up with another way to keep an eye on the rain.但是,现在荷兰皇家气象研究所的阿尔特-欧维姆和他的同事们认为,他们已经提出了另一种可以监测雨量的方式。It offers, they believe, both broad coverage and fine detail.他们认为,这种方式既能够实现大范围的覆盖,又可以提供具体的细节。Best of all, it relies on something that is aly almost omnipresent—the mobile-phone network.最重要的是,这种方式所依赖的现在已经无所不在—那就是移动手机网络。Their scheme starts from the observation that rain can make it harder for certain sorts of electromagnetic radiation to travel through the atmosphere.他们提出的新方式起始于一种观测—当某些特定的电磁辐射穿越大气层时,下雨会增加穿透的难度。Measure this impedance and you can measure how rainy it is.衡量这种阻力,你就可以测试出雨量的多少。The researchers do not measure the strength of mobile-phone signals themselves.研究者并没有测量移动手机信号本身的强度。Instead, they piggyback on something that mobile networks aly do, and measure the strength of the microwave links that base stations use to talk to each other.相反,他们增加了移动网络已有的某些物质,然后测量用于双方通话基站的微波链接强度。The idea itself is not new, and there have been trials in recent years.这种方式本身并没什么新意,最近几年一直都在进行类似的试验。But, as they report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr Overeem and his colleagues have successfully applied the technique to an entire country.但是,就像他们向美国国家院报告中提到的,欧维姆士和他的同事已经在一个国家成功地实现了它的全国性应用。Using data from around 2,400 links between base-stations belonging to T-Mobile, one of the Netherlands three mobile-phone operators, they were able to generate a rain map of the whole kingdom every 15 minutes.通过分析荷兰三大移动运营商之一:T-Mobile所属的2,400个基站产生的数据,他们能够每十五分钟就制作出一个全国的雨量分布图。Like all the best science, the idea is both technically elegant and practically useful.就像所有最好的科学一样,这种方式在技术上很简练,而且很有实用性。Dr Overeem points out that simply coming up with another way to measure rainfall is handy by itself, since it allows better cross-checking of existing methods.欧维姆士指出,简单地用另一种方法测量雨量本身就很方便,因为这种方法可以对现有的方式进行再次核查。There are other advantages, too.这种方法也有其它方面的优势。Coverage is one.覆盖面就是其一。Even in rich countries with well-financed weather forecasters, there are likely to be far more mobile-phone base stations than rain gauges.甚至在天气预报配备方面资金充足的发达国家,移动手机基站的数量也可能远远超过雨量计的数量。That is truer still in poor countries, where rain gauges are scarce and radar often nonexistent, but mobile phones common.而这种现象在贫困国家则更加明显,在那里雨量计很稀少,往往根本没有。The GSM Association, a mobile-phone trade group, estimates that 90% of the worlds population lives within range of a base station.但是拥有移动手机却很普遍。全球移动通信系统协会—一家移动手机贸易组织—估计,全世界有90%的人口居住在基站所覆盖的范围内。Another boon is that network operators tend to keep a close eye on their microwave links.另一个福音就是网络运营商们往往都会密切关注他们的微波链接。Although the researchers were able to obtain data only every 15 minutes, some firms sample their networks once a minute.尽管研究者只需要十五分钟就能收集到数据,但是有些运营商能在一分钟内对他们的网络进行抽查。That means rainfall could, in principle, be measured almost in real time, something that neither gauges nor radar nor satellites can manage.从原理上来讲,那就是说雨量可以进行实时测量,而这点是雨量计,雷达或者卫星都无法做到的。The technology is not perfect: snow and hail are harder than rain for microwaves to spot, for example.这种技术也不是完美无缺的:比如,相比较下雨,要想在下雪和冰雹时探测到微波的可能性更小。And there are other caveats.而且还有些其它注意事项。Mobile networks are densest in urban areas, which are also the places most likely to have meteorological equipment aly.城镇地区是移动网络最密集的,而那里也是最有可能已经配备了气象设备的地区。Even in the rich, urbanised Netherlands, coverage outside cities was noticeably patchier.甚至在富有的,城镇化的荷兰,城市外移动网络的覆盖也是零星点点。But that might eventually prove to be a boon, for if the technology becomes widesp then weather forecasters might contribute to the cost of installing base stations in coverage blackspots.但是,这可能最终也会转为有利条件,因为,如果这种技术能够被广泛应用的话,那时天气预报可能会对在无覆盖地区安装基站有所帮助。something for which the 10% of humanity not yet within range of a mobile-phone mast might be thankful.而那些至今还未生活在移动电话覆盖区域中的10%的人可能会对此心存感激的。 /201309/258155School reform校制改革How to tame a Trojan horse如何驯一只害群之马Extremism in Birmingham schools poses a conundrum for reformers摆在改革者面前的难题是伯明翰学校中的极端主义PETER CLARKE, who used to spot terrorist plots for Londons Metropolitan Police, has confirmed that something ugly has been happening in Birmingham, too. In a report on July 22nd he showed that teachers at several mostly Muslim schools in the city had exchanged messages on a mobile app disparaging gays, Israel and the West; they had also discussed how to foster an intolerant Islamist culture. Mr Clarkes is the third report on this subject—and the one that, almost certainly, signals a partial retreat for the governments bold education reforms.彼得·克拉克曾经为伦敦警察局侦查恐怖阴谋,他确信,在伯明翰也有一些肮脏的事情发生。他在7月22日的一份报告中说,伯明翰穆斯林居多的学校中,有一些老师在一款诋毁同性恋、以色列以及西方国家的手机应用上相互交流;他们还讨论如何形成一个排除伊斯兰教徒的文化氛围。克拉克先生的报告是第三份关于这个主题的报告,还几乎是一份政府正大胆进行的教育改革有所退让的信号。Since 2010 the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition has freed some 2,500 schools from local-authority control, including some of the ones that went awry in Birmingham. Though all remain under the control of the Department for Education and must submit to inspections by Ofsted, the schools watchdog, head teachers have considerable power to shape the curriculum. In addition to these “academies”, parents have been encouraged to set up “free schools”. Institutionally, it is the coalitions most successful public-sector reform: by contrast, changes to policing, health and welfare have been slow and troubled. But the education reforms have ruffled feathers, and posed a knotty question.2010年,保守党—自民党联合政府让2500所学校脱离地方当局的管控,这包括其中一些出问题的伯明翰学校。即使所有的学校仍然在教育部的管理之下,并且必须从教育标准局的审查。因为学校的监管者——校长,有相当大的权力来修改课程。除了这些“学术型学校”,家长们还被怂恿去建立“免费学校”。在制度上,这是联合政府最成功的一次有关国营部门的改革:相比之下,在治安、医疗和福利方面的改变显得进程缓慢,而且困难重重。但这次的教育改革民怨难平,问题棘手。How can the desire to give schools more autonomy be squared with the desire to enforce liberal values? Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsteds boss, fought a battle with Michael Gove—until July 15th the combative education secretary—over whether the burgeoning number of academy chains and free schools should be overseen by a new layer of commissioners. Mr Gove feared that such a move would slow down reform. But Sir Michael has succeeded in instating a group of eight regional commissioners and Birmingham is to get its own commissioner.怎样才可以在保学校自主权的同时,又加强自由主义价值观?教育标准局局长迈克尔·威尔肖爵士和迈克尔·戈夫曾有过争论,后者在7月15日之前一直任教育部长,且非常好斗。他们争论的焦点是,蓬勃发展的学院链和免费学校的数量是否该被新的领导层监管。戈夫担心,这样的举动会使改革放缓。但迈克尔爵士已经成功任命一个八人区域专员小组,而且伯明翰也将要有自己的地区专员。Tristram Hunt, Labours education spokesman, backs more muscular oversight for all English schools. He wants new “schools-standards directors” to keep a beady eye on what happens in classrooms. But achieving that without crushing innovation or reproducing the mediocre uniformity imposed by local authorities will not be easy. Nobody seems sure whether they should be elected or not, or how large their fiefs ought to be.特里斯特拉姆·亨特是工党教育方面的发言人,他对所有的英语学校都有强势的监管。他想要新的“基于学校标准的负责人”,睁大眼睛关注教室中的一举一动。但是想要实现这个目标并非易事,因为要同时不压制创新,抑或重现地方当局实行成效平平的一致化。似乎没人能够肯定,他们自己是否该被选上,或者自己的管辖区域到底该多大。The puzzle of how to combine freedom with accountability bedevils education reforms far beyond the English Midlands. Many of Americas charter schools are brilliant: a report by the University of Arkansas concluded that they deliver a greater return on investment than other secondary schools by almost 3% per student for every year enrolled in school. Yet an alarming number have self-inflicted problems. Michigan has just announced that it will step up oversight of over 700 charter schools after revelations of waste.如何把教育自由和问责制相结合,这个难题给教育改革带来的困扰要远远超过英国中部地区。相比之下,美国很多的特许学校就很聪明:阿肯色大学的一份报告总结出,每年学校录取的学生中,每名有近3%的投资回报会超过其他初级中学。然而,有非常多自身造成的问题。在滥用职权被披露后,密歇根州已经宣布,将会对超过700所特许学校建立监管体制。Swedens free schools, often cited as a bracing innovation by Conservative reformers in Britain, have also performed poorly. Swedens ranking in standardised tests fell steeply between 2002 and 2012; faults have been found with its inspection and oversight system. But centralisation often works no better. France, which firmly keeps religion out of education, has many indifferent schools and does a poor job of educating children of north African origin.瑞典的免费学校常常被英国保守党改革者当作一个令人振奋的改革创新,却也推行困难。瑞典的标准化测试排名在2002年到2012年间急剧下降;其检查及监管体制已经找到了错漏之处。但中央集权也无甚成效。法国一直坚定的把宗教排除在教育之外,现在有许多低档学校,这些学校在教育北非裔的孩子时非常的不上心。One sobering lesson from Birmingham is that academic results are often a poor guide to the health of a school. Park View School was rated “outstanding” by Ofsted in January 2012—a glaring misjudgment. Nor was parent power much use. Some Muslim families seem to have been happy with the social conservatism of the school.伯明翰是一个非常令人警醒的教训,学业成绩经常不能正确反映出学校的好坏。2012年一月,园景学校曾经被教育标准局评级为“杰出”,这是一个非常明显的误判。家长监管的权利也没有得到使用。一些穆斯林家庭似乎对学校的社会保护主义非常满意。Increased local oversight for Englands schools now looks inevitable. Deciding what the new overseers should do—and just as importantly, what they should not do—will test the ingenuity of all school reformers.如今看来,加强英格兰学校的当地监管是不可避免的。现在,决定监管者应该做什么和不该做什么一样重要,这就会考验所有学校改革者的独创精神。 /201408/318055

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