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双语热点:MIT校长致信全校祝贺发现引力波

2016-02-17    来源:Kevin英语课堂    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

 MIT校长致信全校祝贺发现引力波

【编者按】美国科研人员2月11日宣布,他们利用激光干涉引力波天文台(LIGO)于去年9月首次探测到引力波,证实了爱因斯坦100年前所做的预测,同为黑洞专家的英国天文物理学大师霍金在接受英国广播公司(BBC)专访时表示:“引力波提供看待宇宙的崭新方式,发现它们的能力,有可能使天文学起革命性的变化。这项发现是首度发现黑洞的二元系统,是首度观察到黑洞融合。”为此,麻省理工大学校长也发表了一封祝贺信~~~~
 
To the members of the MIT community,
麻省理工学院校园全体成员:
 
At about 10:30 this morning in Washington, D.C., MIT, Caltech and the National Science Foundation (NSF) will make a historic announcement in(在…方面做出历史性的宣告) physics: the first direct detection of gravitational waves(引力波), a disturbance of space-time that Albert Einstein predicted a century ago.
2月11日上午10点30分,麻省理工学院、加州理工学院以及美国国家科学基金在华盛顿特区将进行物理学界的一次历史性发布:人类首次直接探测到引力波,Albert Einstein (阿尔伯特·爱因斯坦)百年前预见的一种时空干扰波。
 
You may want to watch the announcement live(实况转播的) now. Following the NSF event, you can watch our on-campus announcement event. You can read an overview(概述) of the discovery here as well as an interview with MIT Professor Emeritus Rainer Weiss PhD '62, instigator and a leader of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) effort.
你也许会去现场观看这一发布。在美国国家科学基金发布会后,你也可观看我们校园的发布活动。你也可以在学院官方网站上阅读到关于这一发现的综述,以及对麻省理工学院教授Emeritus Rainer Weiss的专访,他是LIGO (激光干涉引力波观测站)的倡导者和领导者。
 

 
The beauty and power of basic science
基础科学的美丽和力量
 
I do not typically write to you to celebrate individual research achievements, no matter how impressive; our community produces important work all the time(一直以来). But I urge you to(敦促某人做某事) reflect on(对…进行思考) today's announcement because it demonstrates, on a grand scale(从一个宏达的视角来看), why and how human beings pursue deep scientific questions – and why it matters.
通常而言,不管多么令人印象深刻,我不会给全校致信祝贺某个人的研究成果。我们校区一直都在推出重要的科研成果。但我要鼓励你们去思考今天的发布,因为它在一个广袤的背景上展示了,对深科学问题人类为什么要探索,如何探索,以及为什么至关重要。
 
Today's news encompasses(包含) at least two compelling(震撼的) stories.
今天的新闻至少包括两个重要的故事:
 
First is the one the science tells: that with his theory of general relativity(广义相对论), Einstein correctly predicted the behavior of gravitational waves, space-time ripples(时空的涟漪) that travel to us from places in the universe where gravity is immensely(极其巨大地) strong. Those rippling messages are imperceptibly(察觉不到地) faint; until now, they had defied(对抗) direct observation. Because LIGO succeeded in detecting these faint messages – from two black holes that crashed together to form a still larger one – we have remarkable evidence that the system behaves exactly as Einstein foretold(预言).
首先是科学告诉我们:凭藉广义相对论,爱因斯坦准确地预测了引力波的存在,它是从宇宙中某个引力极其强大的地方旅行到我们这里的时空涟漪。这些涟漪信号是不可察觉地微弱。直到不久前,它们也无法被直接观察到。但因为LIGO成功检测到了这些微弱的信号——从两个黑洞相撞成为一个更大的黑洞——我们有了确凿证据,这个系统的活动正如爱因斯坦所预言。
 
With even the most advanced telescopes that rely on(依赖) light, we could not have seen this spectacular collision(撞击), because we expect black holes to emit(发出) no light at all. With LIGO's instrumentation(一组仪器), however, we now have the "ears" to hear it. Equipped with(配备) this new sense(感官), the LIGO team encountered(邂逅) and recorded a fundamental truth about nature that no one ever has before. And their explorations with this new tool have only just begun. This is why human beings do science!
即使是最先进的望远镜也依赖于光,所以我们不能看到这壮观的碰撞,因为我们一直认为,黑洞不会发出任何光。然而,凭借LIGO的仪器,我们现在有“耳朵”可以听到。配备这种新感官,LIGO的团队发现和记录了一个关于大自然的、迄今未被发现的基本事实。但他们利用这个新工具的探险才刚刚开始。这就是为什么人类要从事科学!
 
The second story is of human achievement. It begins with(缘起于) Einstein: an expansive human consciousness(不断扩展的人类意识) that could form a concept so far beyond the experimental capabilities of his day(在他的那个时代) that inventing the tools to prove its validity(正确性) took a hundred years.
第二个故事是关于人类的成就。它始于爱因斯坦:一种广阔的人类意识,可以形成一个超越当时实验能力的概念,而他的后人用了一百年,发明工具,证明了其有效性。
 
That story extends to(延伸至) the scientific creativity and perseverance of Rai Weiss and his collaborators. Working for decades at the edge of what was technologically possible, against the odds(迎难而上) Rai led a global collaboration to turn a brilliant thought experiment into(turn…into…把…转变为…) a triumph(胜利) of scientific discovery.
这个故事可以推广到Rai Weiss和其合作者的科学创造力和无比的毅力。数十年来,在技术可能性的边缘,不计成败,Rai Weiss领导一个全球合作的团队,最终将一个光辉的思想实验转变成一个科学发现的胜利。
 
Important characters(重要角色) in that narrative(故事) include the dozens of outside(外部的) scientists and NSF administrators who, also over decades, systematically assessed the merits of(评估了…的好处) this ambitious project and determined the grand investment was worth it(是有价值的). The most recent chapter recounts(说明了) the scrupulous care(一丝不苟) the LIGO team took in presenting these findings to the physics community. Through the sacred(神圣的) step-by-step process of careful analysis and peer-reviewed(同行评议) publication, they brought us the confidence to share this news – and they opened a frontier of exploration(开启了探索的新前线).
这个叙事中的重要角色还包括数十名外围科学家,也包括美国国家科学基金会管理者,他们在过去几十年中,系统地评估了这一雄心勃勃项目的意义,决定了予以大量投资。最后的篇章也包括LIGO团队,精心地将这些发现展示在物理学界面前。通过严谨分析和同行评审出版的一步步庄重过程,令我们满怀信心分享这一喜讯——而且开创了一个探索的新前沿。
 
At a place like MIT, where so many are engaged in(从事) solving real-world problems, we sometimes justify(证明…是对的) our nation's investment in basic science by its practical byproducts(副产品). In this case, that appears nearly irrelevant(不想干的). Yet immediately useful "results" are here, too: LIGO has been a strenuous(艰苦的) training ground(训练场) for thousands of undergraduates and hundreds of PhDs – two of them now members of our faculty.
在麻省理工学院这样的地方,有太多人正在参与解决现实世界的问题,我们有时会以实用的附带产品来检验国家的基础科学投资是否物有所值。但在这个案例中,这几乎是不相关的。当然,个中也有立即有用的“成果”:LIGO一直以来是数千大学生和数百博士生艰苦的训练场——其中两人已经正式担任我校的教职。
 
What's more, the LIGO team's technological inventiveness(创造才能) and creative appropriation of(对…创造性地借用) tools from other fields produced instrumentation of unprecedented precision(史无前例的精准). As we know so well at MIT, human beings cannot resist the lure of(无法抵御…的诱惑) a new tool. LIGO technology will surely be adapted(适应) and developed, "paying off(偿清,出成果)" in ways no one can yet predict. It will be fun to see where this goes.
更重要的是,LIGO团队的技术创新,以及创造性使用其他领域的工具,产生了前所未有的精密仪器。正如我们在麻省理工学院所熟知的,人类无法抗拒一个新工具的诱惑。LIGO技术将进一步完善和发展,“回报”的方式未可限量。关注其发展十分有意义。
 
The discovery we celebrate today embodies(体现了) the paradox(矛盾之处) of fundamental science: that it is painstaking(费力的), rigorous(严谨的) and slow – and electrifying(令人振奋的), revolutionary(革命性的) and catalytic(起催化作用的). Without basic science, our best guess never gets any better(不会有丝毫进步), and "innovation" is tinkering around the edges(“在边缘修修补补”,指“无法取得实质性突破”). With the advance of(随着…的进步) basic science, society advances, too.
 
我们今天庆祝的发现体现了基础科学的悖论:它是辛苦的、严谨的和缓慢的,又是震撼性的、革命性的和催化性的。没有基础科学,最好的设想就无法得到改进,“创新”只能是小打小闹。只有随着基础科学的进步,社会也才能进步。
 
I am proud and grateful to belong to(从属于) a community so well equipped to appreciate the beauty and meaning of this achievement – and primed to(做好准备去…) unlock its opportunities(开启所有可能性).
麻省理工学院校园具备如此不凡的条件,能欣赏这一成就的美丽和意义,并敞开进一步成就的机会。我为自己属于这个校区的一员而自豪和荣幸。
 
In wonder and admiration,
谨致振奋与赞叹!
 
L. Rafael Reif


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