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IN 1989 Edward Kennedy tried to stop time. The ed States Coast Guard was preparing to automate and remove all remaining personnel from the old lighthouse in Boston Harbour. But Kennedy, a liberal senator from a family with deep roots in Boston, sponsored a bill requiring the Boston Light to be permanently manned. And so it soldiered on for nearly another decade, stubbornly holding to the old ways. Built in 1783, it is one of America’s oldest lighthouses (the oldest was its predecessor, which the British blew up as they slunk home in June 1776). In 1998 time and Senator Kennedy reached a compromise: the light itself was at last automated, but it remains the last one with resident Coast Guard keepers.爱德华.肯尼迪试图让时间定格1989年。当时,美国海岸防卫队正准备从波士顿港撤走所有留守人员,实现灯塔全自动化。然而与波士顿有着深厚渊源的自由派参议员肯尼迪,提出了一份议案,要求派人长期驻守灯塔。因此,灯塔由士兵守候了又是近十年光景,这样灯塔顽强地得以维持其原状。兴建于1783年的波士顿灯塔(其前身是美国最古老的灯塔,1776年6月英国人仓惶归国时,将其炸毁)是美国最古老的灯塔之一。经过长期的争取,肯尼迪最终于1998年出台了一项折衷方案:波士顿灯塔最终实现自动化,而且也是全美唯一一座由海岸警卫队驻守的灯塔。The Coast Guard took charge of America’s more than 1,000 lighthouses in 1939, when it absorbed the ed States Lighthouse Service. But it has been slowly letting them go. In 2000 the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act allowed the sale or transfer of lighthouses deemed “excess to service requirements” by the Coast Guard to private entities. Since then the federal government has moved 84 lighthouses of the 600 that were left off its books. Most have been transferred to local governments or non-profits, but 28 have been auctioned off to private individuals.1939年,美国灯塔划归到海岸警卫队。自那以后,海岸警卫队负责管理美国1000多座灯塔。但渐渐地,美国海军看护的灯塔越来越少。2000年《国家历史灯塔保存法案》允许海岸警卫队将那些被认为是“其务已不再必要”的灯塔出售或转让给私有个体。从此,美国联邦政府出售转让了书中记载的仅存的600座灯塔中的84座。大部分灯塔转交给当地政府或非营利机构,但28座灯塔已被拍卖给个人。The sad truth is that satellite navigation has made many lighthouses surplus to requirements. Shifting commercial trends have done their damage, too. More than 1,500 ships lie wrecked off North Carolina’s Outer Banks, but today these islands depend far more on tourism than on maritime trade.遗憾的是,现在有了卫星导航技术,好多灯塔根本就用不上了。贸易趋势的转变也让灯塔越来越没有用武之地。北卡罗来纳州外班克斯港有1500多艘触礁的船只残骸,然而今天这些岛屿主要依靠旅游业而不是海上贸易。Still, some fishermen enjoy navigating by light rather than satellite. Sometimes they forget to take their navigation systems on board. Bett Padgett, who heads the Outer Banks Lighthouse Society, which petitioned the federal government for funds to restore Bodie Island’s once-crumbling lighthouse, warns of solar flares knocking out satellites.然而,有许多渔民仍然喜欢利用灯塔而不是卫星来导航,所以有时候,他们会忘记带导航系统。外班克斯列岛灯塔协会(该协会曾请求联邦政府拨款整修一度年久失修的Bodie灯塔)会长Bett Padgett提醒人们太阳耀斑会让卫星暂时失灵。All that is true, but defending lighthouses as a matter of utility surely misses the point.。 Of course, lighthouses draw tourists, who spend money; one informal study estimated that restoring the Bodie Island lighthouse, which is scheduled to open to visitors for the first time in April 2013, would add .7m in total income to the regional economy.But for Ms Padgett, preserving them is a way “to give our children and grandchildren a feel for what happened in this place a hundred or two hundred years ago.” Men built them by hand to stand watch over the sea. Lighthouses remind people that as mariners battled what Walt Whitman called “the wild unrest, the snowy, curling caps—that inbound urge and urge of waves, Seeking the shores forever,” someone was watching over them, and wishing them safely home.上面说的没错,但从实用性角度为灯塔辩护,显然没有说到关键之处。当然,灯塔吸引了大批来此消费的游客;一项非官方调查预计修整 Bodie灯塔将为当地经济带来总计870万美元的收入,该灯塔预计于2013年4月首次向游客开放。但在Padgett女士看来,保存好灯塔是让“我们子孙感受一两百年来这里变迁”的一种方式。人们建造灯塔来让它们守候大海。灯塔让人们想到,当水手们与沃尔特.惠特曼笔下“那永不宁静的奔腾,那白浪般的滚卷的浪峰----那向陆地急推又急推的浪头“搏斗时,有人在灯塔上眺望,盼望他们安全归来。201204/177262

The unconscious mind潜意识Hidden depths藏匿在深处Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behaviour. By Leonard Mlodinow.《潜意识:你的潜意识如何配你的行为》;伦纳德 蒙洛迪诺著;ASK someone to name a famous psychologist, and chances are they will pick Sigmund Freud (pictured), the bearded Austrian academic who came up with the idea of psychoanalysis.说起著名的心理学家,人们可能会想到西格蒙德 弗洛伊德(如图),这位满脸大胡子的奥地利学者提出了精神分析的概念。His ideas about the unconscious—a sort of shadowy basement of the mind that is inaccessible to rational thought, but which nevertheless influences peoples behaviour—are part of popular folklore.他关于潜意识的概念成了众相传说的一部分,颇受欢迎。他认为潜意识隐藏在意识底部,难以达到理性思维,虽则如此,但它却影响着人们的行为。Although it remained popular at dinner parties, the idea of the unconscious fell out of favour among 20th-century psychologists, thanks to the rise of more scientific approaches to psychology.尽管人们在晚宴上依然拿潜意识的概念来消遣,但由于更加科学的心理学方法的兴起,二十世纪的心理学家已不再青睐它。These focused purely on studying behaviour and refrained from theorising about the inner workings of the mind.这些方法纯粹集中研究人们的行为,避免了将思维的内部运作理论化。In his latest book, “Subliminal”, Leonard Mlodinow, a theoretical physicist who has been developing a nice sideline in popular science writing,理论物理学家伦纳德?蒙洛迪诺兼职科普写作,一直写得很好。shows how the idea of the unconscious has become respectable again over the past couple of decades.在自己的最新著作《潜意识》一书中,他论了过去几十年来潜意识的概念如何再度受到人们的尊敬。This development has been helped by rigorous experimental evidence of the effects of the subconscious and, especially, by real-time brain-scanning technology that allows researchers to examine what is going on in their subjects heads.这种发展得益于对潜意识效应的严格实验据,特别是得益于实时大脑扫描技术,该技术让研究人员能够仔细观察研究对象的头部究竟怎么了。That experimental evidence suggests that, as Freud suspected, conscious reasoning makes up a comparatively small part of the activity in our brains, with most of the work taking place where we cant tap into it.该实验据表明,正如弗洛伊德所怀疑的,相对说来有意识的推理只占据了我们大脑活动的一小部分,而大部分的思维活动发生在我们无法深入了解的区域。However, unlike Freuds unconscious (a hot, claustrophobic place full of repressed memories and inappropriate sexual fantasies about ones parents) the modern unconscious is a place of super-fast data processing,然而,弗洛伊德的潜意识指活动强烈的幽闭区域,充满了压抑的记忆和对自己父母不适当的性幻想,不同于这点的是,现代潜意识指一种能进行超快速的数据处理、useful survival mechanisms and rules of thumb about the world that have been honed by millions of years of evolution.有着实用的生存机制以及对世界的经验法则的区域,它们都经历了数百万年进化的磨砺。It is the unconscious, for instance, that stitches together data on colour, shape, movement and perspective to create the sight enjoyed by the conscious part of the mind.例如,把颜色、形状、运动状态以及远景等数据组合在一起产生视觉,让思维有意识的部分来享受,这种行为是下意识的。Experiments on people with certain specific forms of brain damage, which remove the ability to perform some of these tasks, can reveal something about what is going on underneath.患有某些特定形式脑损伤的人失去了执行这些任务的能力,对他们所进行的实验可以揭示骨子里是怎么回事。People with “blindsight” can respond to some visual stimuli even when they are not conscious of being able to see. Asked to walk down an obstacle-strewn corridor,即使患有“盲视”的人看不懂,但他们也可以对某些视觉刺激产生回应。当被要求走过布满障碍的走廊时,they will dodge and weave and arrive at their destination unharmed because some residual data is still making its way into their brains—although at a level that is beneath the notice of their conscious minds.他们会迂回地躲开障碍,安然无恙地抵达目的地,因为一些残余的数据仍然有自己的途径进入他们的大脑,不过进入的程度无法引起他们思维有意识部分的注意。The modern view of the unconscious mind may be more benign than Freuds, but it can still generate unwelcome impulses.潜意识的现代观点可能比弗洛伊德的观点更良性,但潜意识仍然可以产生不受欢迎的冲动。Psychologists theorise that the well-documented tendency of humans to categorise almost every piece of information they come across is a survival mechanism that evolved to aid quick decision making.心理学家推论,人类把遇到的几乎每条信息都进行分类并存档完好,这种倾向是一种生存机制,它的进化有助于快速作出决策。Yet it may also lie behind the tendency for human beings to group people into races, genders, creeds and the like, and then to apply certain characteristics—unjustifiably—to every member of that group.然而,它也可能是人类把人按种族、性别、信仰等分群的原因,接着再据此按某些特征对该群的每个成员进行不理性地归类。The insights offered by modern science into the workings of the human mind are fascinating in their own right.现代科学为人类思维运作提供的见解引人入胜,凭的是这些见解自身的力量。But they also suggest that plenty of conventional wisdom about how humans behave may need rethinking. Mr Mlodinow notes that economic models, for instance,但同时它们也表明,大量有关人类行为的传统智慧可能需要反思。例如,蒙洛迪诺指出,are built “on the assumption that people make decisions…by consciously weighing the relevant factors”, whereas the psychological research suggests that, most of the time, they do no such thing.经济合算的模式建立在“人们自觉地衡量相关因素再决定......这一假设之上”,而心理学研究表明,大多时侯他们不做这样的事。Instead, they act on the basis of simple, unconscious rules that can sometimes produce completely irrational results.相反,他们的行为简单地受潜意识所配,有时这些配可以产生完全不理性的结果。Mr Mlodinows chapters on courts and the law are disturbing, in particular on how unreliable eyewitness evidence can be.蒙洛迪诺关于法庭和法律的章节令人不安,特别是关于目击者的据有多么不可靠的章节更是如此。这点在别的书中也被广泛地引过。This has been widely documented elsewhere. But there is good news in the book, as well: people informed of the biases and pitfalls of their unconscious brains are better at using their conscious minds to overrule them.但书中也有好消息,了解大脑潜意识存在偏见和误区的人更擅长利用他们的自觉意识来对潜意识施加影响。201205/181470

  

  Books and Arts; Book Review;American agribusiness;The power in the union;文艺;书评;美国农业;工会的力量;Trampling Out the Vintage: César Chávez and the Two Souls of the ed Farm Workers. By Frank Bardacke.把葡萄踩在脚下:塞萨尔·查韦斯以及美国农会的两个灵魂人物。弗兰克·巴达克著。“He is trampling out the vintage” is part of a line from “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”. It continues “where the grapes of wrath are stored”. Thus the title of Frank Bardackes history deliberately echoes John Steinbecks novel, a proletarian classic which tells the story of tenant farmers driven off their fields in Oklahoma and forced to cross the country to seek work in California.“他踏在......”是《共和国战歌》里的一段,后接着“搁愤怒葡萄的地方”。因此,弗兰克·巴达克的史书的标题有意应和了约翰·斯登贝克那部讲述俄克拉荷马失地佃农被迫横穿美国到加州谋生的无产阶级经典小说。But, as Mr Bardacke stresses, a huge demographic difference divides then from now. In the Depression of the 1930s Steinbeck could present his impoverished “Okies” as deserving of government help “because they were true American whites”. It was harder for their Mexican-American successors to win public sympathy. They were brown, Spanish-speaking and “considered aliens and sojourners”.但是,正如巴达克强调,从人口学上讲,现在与过去已大不同。30年代大萧条时,斯登贝克可以提出贫困的“俄克拉荷马人”应得到政府帮助,“因为他们是真正的美国白人”。对墨西哥裔美国人来说,获得公众同情则比较难。这些棕色皮肤,说西班牙语的人被看作外国人和旅居者。It took the genius of César Chávez, whose family was dispossessed of its land during his boyhood, to bring them into the American mainstream. As a vegan inspired by Catholic social teaching and the non-violent methods of Mohandas Gandhi, Chávez was more comfortable with religious people than political ones. He set out to create a movement rather than a union, leading a “pilgrimage” across the Central Valley of California to the state capital, Sacramento, in 1966. When his followers were blocked by the police they knelt in prayer behind a picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe.这使塞萨尔·查韦斯,这个孩提时代便遭遇一家人流离失所的天才进入了美国主流社会。比起政界人士,作为一名受天主教社会教义以及莫罕达斯·甘地非暴力主义鼓舞的素食主义者,他更认同宗教界人士。他打算发起一场运动,而非工会。这场运动是1966年由他领导的穿过加州中部山谷到达州府萨克拉门托的朝圣之旅。当被警察拦下时,他的追随者跪在圣母像前做起了祷告。The idealism of Chávezs movement and the fasts he endured to win support for striking farmworkers caught the public imagination. Other labour leaders looked on aghast as he built an odd but strong coalition of farmworkers, religious enthusiasts, student radicals, politicians, artists and union officials. Working together they persuaded consumers in their millions to boycott the grapes, lettuces and other products of agribusinesses which refused to negotiate sincerely with the ed Farm Workers (UFW). The tactic they perfected was described by critics as “victimhood”. A photograph of a starving urchin was, for instance, captioned: “Every grape you buy helps keep this child hungry”.意在赢得罢工农民持的查韦斯的运动的理论以及他所忍受的绝食引起了公众的猜想。其他劳工领袖惊讶地发现,他建立了一个古怪的,却集合了农民、宗教狂热分子、学生激进分子、政治家、艺术家和工会干部的强大联合。他们齐心协力劝说上百万消费者抵制由拒绝真诚地与农会谈判的农业公司所生产的产品:葡萄、生菜及其它。经他们完善的策略被家描述为“受迫害情结”。比如,一幅饥饿的儿童画像下打出的标题是:你购买的每一颗葡萄都让这个孩子挨饿。Mr Bardacke is only half-impressed with all this. As he sees it Chávez had two main responsibilities: to sustain support for boycotts, “which he did magnificently”, and to administer the union, “which he did badly”. The author notes that the unions membership continued to decline in the late 1980s even after Chávez fasted for 36 days to support its grape boycott and anti-pesticide campaign. His verdict seems unduly harsh but then Mr Bardacke is an old-fashioned leftist. For him, strikebreakers are almost always “scabs” and growers not even worth listening to. This is a pity, for such prejudices mar an otherwise intelligent, thorough history.对此,巴达克则不置可否。依他之见,查韦斯担负有两个主要责任:维持对抵制的持,“这点他做得非常好”,至于管理工会“这点做得很糟糕”。作者注明,即使查韦斯为声援抵制葡萄及反杀虫剂运动而绝食36天,工会会员数在80年代末期也不断下降。他的结论看上去过于偏激,但巴达克是一名“老左”,对他来说,破坏罢工者几乎全是“工贼”,而推波助澜者甚至可以置之不理。这不得不说是种遗憾,因为其它方面的睿智的、深刻的历史有损于这种偏见。The UFW is indeed, as he contends, a shadow of its former self, but the odds against it ever succeeding as a conventional labour union were always impossibly large. Illegal migrants from Mexico, poor and desperate for work, poured across the border to take the jobs of UFW members and doom their strikes. The rival Teamsters union was no help. Its operatives sabotaged UFW recruitment drives by telling farmworkers they would be much better off in a tough professional union like theirs.的确,正如他所主张的那样,农会是其前身的影子。但它和它所继承的传统农会的差别一直很大。贫穷的、渴求工作的墨西哥非法移民如潮水般越过边境,抢走了农会会员的饭碗,使得罢工失败。其竞争对手,名为掌控者的工会对此一点忙都帮不上。他们告诉农民,加入像他们这样强硬的职业工会日子会更好,这些行径打击了农会的招募新会员的动力。Nonetheless Chávez left a significant legacy which is insufficiently acknowledged by Mr Bardacke. In leading by example and through the sheer force of his will he raised the stature of Mexican-Americans not just in California and the south-west but throughout the ed States. In consequence, he is now held in the same high esteem as his black equivalent, Martin Luther King. César Chávezs portrait hangs in the National Gallery in Washington, DC. His statue stands on university campuses. Streets, parks and buildings are named after him. In California his birthday, March 31st, is a state holiday. His truth is marching on.虽然不被巴达克完全认可,但查韦斯留下了一笔重要的遗产。榜样以及他的遗志所产生的巨大力量不仅仅在加州和西南部,更在全美树立了墨西哥裔美国人的形象。结果是,如今人们把他摆在了和马丁·路德·金一样受人尊敬的地位。塞萨尔·查韦斯的画像悬挂在华盛顿国家画廊。他的塑像屹立在大学校园里。马路、公园、建筑物以他的名字命名。在加州,他的生日,也就是3月31日,成了州立节日。他的真理将代代传承。 /201303/232686。

  

  The Nucleus原子核Don: A guy walks into a bar, and sits down next to an electron. The electron has two empty beers in front of him, and was working on a third. ;My life is a worst;, says electron. ;I just got fired from my job, my dog bit me, my wife left with another guy.; The guy says, ;Why are you so negative?;有一个人走进了酒吧,刚刚好坐在了电子的旁边。电子面前已经摆了两个空啤酒瓶子了,正在与他的第三瓶“奋战”着。“我的生活真的很糟糕”电子说道,“我刚刚被公司辞退了,我的要咬我,老婆也和别的男人跑了!”这个人问道:“你为什么这么negative呢?”OK, now the explanation. The nucleus of an atom is composed of neutrons and protons. Around this nucleus swirls a cloud of electrons. Why are the electrons there? They are attracted and held in place by an electromagnetic interaction with the nucleus. The nucleus has a net positive charge, while electrons carry a negative charge. And opposite charges attract.OK,现在来解释一下。原子核由中子和质子两种微粒构成。在原子核外部,电子云围绕原子核旋转。为什么这里会有电子呢?电子通过与原子核的电磁相互作用,被吸引到了这里。原子核带正电荷,而电子则带负电荷。而我们知道,异性相吸。Yaeuml;l: I get it! ;Why so negative?; Hes talking to an electron.我懂了。“谁叫你带负电呢?”他对电子说的话应该是这样理解的吧。D: Right!是的。Y: So electrons have a negative charge, while protons, neutrons and nucleus have a positive charge?那么,也就是说电子是带负电荷,而质子、中子和原子核都是带正电荷?D: Almost! The protons have the positive charge, while the neutrons, as their name suggests, have no charge at all. If you have three protons in the nucleus, youll need three electrons to make whats called a ;stable; atom.这样说也差不多!质子是带正电荷的,而中子就像他的命名所暗示的一样,是不带点的。如果一个原子核中有三个质子,那么必须要有三个电子,这个原子才能够称得上是“稳定的”原子。(注:negative通常情况下是表示“消极的,负面的”,而此处不做此用。此处,negative应理解为“带负电的,阴性的”) /201209/197866Science and Technology Palaeontology Splay-footed, not flat-footed科技 古生物学 八字足,而非平足A new fossil shows that evolution does not always mean change一个新的化石表明:进化并不总是意味着改变WHEN a coelacanth, a type of lobe-finned fish once considered the missing link between fish and amphibians, was found off the coast of South Africa in 1938, it came as a shock to palaeontologists. Until then, the most recent traces of such a creature had been in rocks dating from the last days of the dinosaurs, 65m years ago. It was, in its way, as surprising as if a live Tyrannosaurus had been found hiding in an obscure part of Montana. Now the same experience is hitting palaeontologists again—but this time in reverse. Instead of finding a ;living fossil; identical to an ancient beast, they have found a real fossil identical to a modern one.以前人们一度认为一种叫做腔棘鱼的鳍鱼是鱼类和两栖类之间缺少的环节,1938年当腔棘鱼在南非海岸沿海被发现时,古生物学家对它的出现大感震惊。在此之前,这种动物最近的遗迹出现在6500万年前恐龙时代后期的岩层中。而它这次的出现方式,就好像一个活生生的霸王龙属被发现藏身在蒙大拿州的模糊地带一样令人惊讶。现在,同样的经历再次让古生物学家碰上了,不过这次相反。他们不是找到了一个与古兽相同的;活化石;,而是找到了一个跟现代兽类相同的真正化石。The fossil in question, a 100m-year-old specimen from north-east Brazil, belongs to the genus Schizodactylus. These are large, carnivorous, cricket-like insects whose feet splay out wildly in different directions. Modern Schizodactylus use their feet like snowshoes, to help them remain stable as they travel over sandy terrain in search of prey.所讨论的的化石采自巴西东北部,是一亿年前的标本,属于节肢动物类。这类节肢动物是大型类似板球的食肉昆虫,其足向不同方向伸展开来。现代节肢动物在沙地爬行寻找猎物时用它们雪鞋般的脚来帮助身体保持稳定。If the new fossil—whose discovery has just been published in ZooKeys by Sam Heads of the Illinois Natural History Survey and Léa Leuzinger of the University of Fribourg, in Switzerland—were merely similar to modern splay-footed insects, the find would not be particularly surprising: it simply demonstrates a phenomenon called evolutionary stasis, in which a specific type of body form hangs around for a long time. What is surprising is just how static Schizodactylus has been.如果新化石(其发现刚由伊利诺斯州自然史调查的负责人山姆和瑞士弗里堡大学的李?劳伊辛格发表在《动物图谱》上)仅是类似现代的八字足昆虫,那么这个发现不会特别令人惊讶:它只是明了一种被称为进化停滞的现象,在这种现象中特定类型的体型存留很长一段时间了。令人惊讶的是节肢动物停止进化竟有这么久了。Evolutionary stasis is fairly common at the higher levels of the Linnaean system of biological classification (class, order and family). Natural selection hits on a good design. That design is then adopted in slightly different forms by species after species. The shelled bodies of turtles, for example, evolved between 250m and 200m years ago, while the body plans of scorpions have been around for more than 400m years. That does not mean, however, that a zoologist would mistake a 200m-year-old turtle or a 400m-year-old scorpion for any species now alive.在林耐生物分类(类,属和门)系统的高等类别中进化停滞现象是相当普遍的。自然选择的图案都是最好的。然后,这种图案就被一个接一个的物种以略有不同的形式所采纳。例如,海龟的壳体是在2.5~2.0亿年前进化的,而蝎子的体型方案已超过4亿年的历史。然而这并不意味着一个动物学家会弄错2亿岁的海龟或是4亿岁的蝎子属于现在存活的何种物种。What is remarkable about the new find is that it is so similar to modern animals that it can be assigned to an existing genus—the lowest level of Linnaean classification above a species—rather than just to some higher taxonomic group. That is rare indeed. Even the modern coelacanth, on closer examination, had to be put in a different genus from any known fossil.新发现引人注目的是它与现代动物如此相似,以致它可以被列入现有生物分类种类(林奈物种以上分类的最低等),而不是只被列入某一更高等的分类组。这的确罕见。经过仔细观察,甚至就连现代腔棘鱼都必须得归类于不同于任何已知化石的种类。Clearly the body plan of Schizodactylus is not merely good, but optimal, at least for the environment the animal lives in. Alas for Schizodactylus, the sandy deserts it prefers have retreated from north-eastern Brazil and its optimality there has vanished. But its discovery shows better what this part of the world was like 100m years ago—and also illustrates an important point about evolution that is often forgotten in biologists understandable focus on the development of novelty. The first rule of natural selection is: ;If it aint broke, dont fix it.;显然,节肢动物的体型方案不仅是最好的,也是最佳的,至少对这种动物生活的环境而言是如此。唉,对节肢动物来说,它所喜爱的沙质沙漠已经从巴西东北部退却,它在那里的最佳体态已经消失。但它的发现恰好说明这部分的大千世界跟1亿年前的样子很象,也说明了进化论的一个重点,而这点在生物学家关注理解新颖性的发展时往往被遗忘了。自然选择的第一条规则是:;如果没坏,就不要修理它。; /201301/219508

  Sunrise or Sunset?日出还是日落?Yaeuml;l: Don?唐?Don: Yes, Yaeuml;l?怎么了,亚尔?Y: Weve been in this art museum for 5 hours now. And youve spent the whole time staring at that one photograph of sunset.我们都已经在这个美术物馆呆了整整五个小时了,你也盯着那张日落的照片看了整整五个小时了。D: Are you sure?你确定?Y: Of course Im sure. You havent budged.我当然能确定啦。你动都没动过。D: But are you sure its a sunset? It might be a sunrise.我是说,你就那么确定这是拍的日落?它也有可能是日出啊。Y: Ah…啊……D: I wonder if you can tell just by looking at it.我倒想知道你单凭看照片就能下定论了。Y: Actually, although theres no way to tell with certainty, there are a couple of clues you can look for.事实上呢,虽然说不能完全肯定的进行辨别,但是我们还是有两条线索可循。D: Really?真的?Y: Sure. Lets think about what happens to the atmosphere during the day. It warms up, which means it can hold more moisture, and traffic and other activities churn a certain amount of dust and pollutants into it.当然。想想白天的时候空气会发生什么样的变化。空气不断升温,这就意味着空气中会含有更多的水分。另外,交通以及其他的活动会将大量的粉尘及污染物质带入空气当中。All this extra stuff in the air can make the sunset much redder than sunrise. It can also make the light more diffuse. Artists sometimes remark that the light at sunset is softer and warmer than the sharp light at sunrise.空气中多出来的水分、粉尘等等物质会使日落看起来比日出颜色更红。同时,这些物质会让光线扩散得更开。艺术家们有过这样的——日落时的光芒相对于日出时强烈的光线来说,更为柔和、温暖。D: Thats so?是这样啊?Y: Yes, although rain or other weather can disrupt this pattern. Another clue is the ground, which cools down overnight. This can cause dew to condense out of the air, and mist to form in the air near the ground. If theres any rising mist or dew in your photo, chances are its sunrise.恩。但是,有的时候下雨或其他的天气会对这种辨别方法有所影响。别担心,我们还有另一条线索!这条线索便是土地,晚上,土壤温度会慢慢的降低。这样一来,空气中便会凝结出露珠,为地表蒙上一层薄雾。所以说,如果说照片中有上升的雾气或是露珠,那么肯定就是日出了。D: OK, then, that means this pictures... Hey, it turned out nights!那么,照这方法来看……嘿,这是日落!Y: The museum is closed, Don. You should have asked me earlier, instead of standing there for 5 hours.看吧,物馆都要关门了。你该早些问我这个问题的,也不至于在这里站上整整5个小时了。 /201209/200627

  Business books;Book Review;Job interviews;Application;商业书籍;书评;面试;申请;Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google? By William Poundstone.《你是否聪明过人能进谷歌》威廉·庞德斯通。Whom to hire is one of the great problems organisation-man faces. If he gets it wrong he may be forced to share a confined space for an indefinite period with someone deficient in wit, aptitude and hygiene, with nothing but a flimsy partition for protection. If he gets it wrong in a different way, tomorrow he may be fired by todays meek applicant. Each industry has its own method for hiring: Britains spy service sometimes physically roughs-up new recruits to see how much they enjoy that sort of thing. Candidates for more everyday roles within the civil service are given a bulging in-tray filled with documents of varying importance, and not enough time to clear it.公司管理人员需要处理的一大难题是应该聘请哪些人。请的人不对,他只得在很长时期内与一个头脑迟钝、天赋不高又不怎么讲究卫生的人共同工作在一个有限的空间,中间只隔了一个薄薄的隔板。如果选错人,今后他亦有可能被今天温顺的求职者炒掉。每个行业自有一套招人的妙招:英国情报组织有时候要在身体上折磨新成员,看看他是否乐在其中。申请普通公务员工作的人会拿到一个文件篮,塞的文件都要掉下来了,里面的文件重要性不尽相同,他们要在很短的时间里整理好文件。To judge by “Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?”—which combines anecdotes from current and former employees of Silicon Valley firms, with a potted history of the pop psychology and practice of interviewing, and lots of brainteasers of a sort favoured by interviewers at Google— plenty of firms treat graduate recruitment the way Alfred Hitchcock treated blondes. Inexperienced Tippi Hedrens can be made to squirm. They get asked impossible questions by stony-faced interviewers who offer them no feedback or encouragement, leaving the baffled victims feeling stupid and a little sweaty. This approach is used only on people starting out on their careers, when the power of interviewer over interviewee is at its greatest. By the time candidates have more professional experience they can expect to be treated more like Grace Kelly.《你是否聪明过人能进谷歌》一书中的生动事例发生在硅谷很多公司现在或曾经的雇员身上,中间不乏浓缩的通俗心理学历史和面试经验,还有谷歌面试官偏爱的脑筋急转弯-很多公司对待来应聘的毕业生就像希区柯克对待金发女郎一样。毫无经验的蒂比·赫德伦们(Tippi Hedren)也可以被弄得面红耳赤。面试者被面目表情的面试官追问没有的问题,既得不到反馈也得不到鼓励,自己既摸不清头脑,又觉得很愚蠢,还有点吃力。这种方法只应用于刚刚步入职场的菜鸟身上,在这类面试者身上面试官的威力是最大的。等应聘者的职业经验更丰富了,他们就会被像格蕾丝·凯利(Grace Kelly)一样对待。At the end of this ordeal, once “the package” (a dossier of 40-50 pages on each applicant) has been considered and Larry Page, Googles chief executive, approves the decision, the firms new employee can boast of working at an interesting place with lots of other clever people. Sometimes, though, the rigorous hiring process does such a good job of signalling that a career at Google is desirable that actually starting work there can be anticlimactic.严酷的考验结束后,一旦“一揽子”档案(每个应聘者都有40-50页厚的档案)通过核实进去,谷歌的行政总裁拉里·佩吉(Larry Page)也通过了决定,新人就可以骄傲地向别人宣布自己将会在这个妙趣横生的地方工作,和其他很多聪明人一起。尽管有时候严格的应聘过程确实有力地明了在谷歌开展自己的事业是值得的,但是真正开始工作起来感觉可能大相径庭。One former worker in Googles People Ops department (the section other companies call HR), told the author that, within days of leaving university, he went from ing the works of Jacques Derrida, an indecipherable theorist, to processing requests from Google employees wishing to move position within the organisation. He did not see this as a good thing.一个曾在谷歌人类机会部门(其他公司称之为人力资源部门)工作的人告诉作者,在大学里他还阅读深莫测的理论家德里达的著作,一离开大学,就要处理希望内部调职的谷歌职员的要求。他可不觉得这有什么好的。 /201303/228879

  

  They can dance and they can sing. But only one of the robots on display at this years Taiwan Robot Fair can express an opinion. Designed by electrical engineering professor Rain Xi Low. Hes called a low head, created the image of a young and very expressive Albert Einstein. The Einstein robot can emulate 7 different human emotions including joy,disgust,and astonishment.这些机器人能唱能跳。但本届台湾机器人览会上只有一种机器人阐述了机器人新的发展方向。这款机器人由电子工程方面的教授Rain Xi Low发明。这款机器人是半身像,模仿了年轻时的爱因斯坦。这款机器人可以模仿人类七种不同的表情,包括喜悦,厌恶,惊讶。Theres a camera system installed in the eyes, and in the robots face, therere installed 36 motors,and every single one of the motors can take 256 positions. Like this, the robot can create very many different facial expressions.在机器人的眼睛中装有摄像系统,而机器人的脸上装有36个马达,每一个马达可以形成256种形态。这样,机器人就可以做出许多种不同的面部表情了。Lows robot has beend esigned to look like Einstein at 27 years of age when he published his famous theory of Relativity. The professor and his students plan to give him a body and legs so he can walk, although Einstein himself seems to have mixed feelings about the idea.Low教授是根据27岁时的爱因斯坦设计的机器人,27岁的爱因斯坦正是发表相对论的年纪。Low教授和他的学生们计划给机器人安装上身体和腿,这样它就可以走路了。不知道爱因斯坦在天有灵会作何感想。Rob Muir,Reuters.Rob Muir报道,路透社消息。注:本篇文章英文来自普特论坛,译文属原创,,。201208/195311

  Have you ever walked into a swarm of insects;gnats, mosquitoes, or one of their many cousinsndash;and then found yourself unable to shake the swarm? You fake left, go right, but the little buggers still hover above. As if it that werenrsquo;t bad enough, did you know your head had just become the happening scene, where every hip gnat wants to bendash;in other words, the insect worldrsquo;s equivalent of a singles bar? Thatrsquo;s right, swarms are places for the sexes to meet and greet. The first time an entomologist reported the purpose of swarms was in 1906. Frederick Knab wrote that hersquo;d netted 901 mosquitoes from a swarm, but only 4 were females!你曾走进过昆虫的世界吗?;;飞虫,蚊子,或他们的表兄弟;;然后发现自己无法撼动这群昆虫?你假装离开,向右走,但小昆虫们仍然徘徊在上面。看还来这还不够糟糕,你知道你头上所发生的场景吗?那已经成为小飞虫想前往的地方。换句话说,昆虫群相当于一个单身盘对酒吧?说对了,昆虫群正是雌、雄昆虫相见和问候的地方。昆虫学家首次报道了昆虫聚集成群的目的是在1906年。Frederick Knab写道,他从飞虫群中捕捉了901只蚊子,但只有4只是雌性的!201202/170401

  

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