【经济学人】殖民火星:是为了现在而非后世总第682期

时间:2016-10-18 07:04:00   |    vcit艺术设计与传媒系

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  Colonising Mars: For life, not for an afterlife

  殖民火星:为了现在而非后世

  

  Seeking to make Earth expendable is not a good reason to settle other planets

  想方设法用尽地球资源不是人类移民到别的星球的好借口

  MARS has been much possessed by death. In the late 19th century Percival Lowell, an American astronomer, persuaded much of the public that the red planet was dying of desertification. H.G. Wells, in “The War of the Worlds”, imagined Martian invaders bringing death to Earth; in “The Martian Chronicles” Ray Bradbury pictured humans living among Martian ghosts seeing Earth destroyed in a nuclear spasm. Science was not much cheerier than science fiction: space probes revealed that having once been warmer and wetter, Mars is now cold, cratered and all-but-airless.

  火星一直被死亡所笼罩。19世纪末期,美国天文学家PercivalLowell曾告诉大多数媒体说,由于荒漠化,这个红色的星球已经濒临垂死的边缘了。H.G. Wells在《星际战争》中设想了火星入侵者将死亡带向地球的故事;在《火星编年史》中,Ray Bradbury描绘了活在火星人鬼魂下的人们眼睁睁看着地球毁于核爆的画面。科学现实并不比这些科幻小说要乐观多少:航天探测器显示,火星曾经温暖而湿润,但现如今一片冷寂,到处都坑坑洼洼,空气少得可怜。

  Persuade:v. 说服,劝说

  Invader:n. 侵略者

  Chronicle:n. 编年史,年代记;记录

  spasm:n. 一阵发作

  Perhaps that is why the dream of taking new life to Mars is such a stirring one. Elon Musk, an entrepreneur, has built a rocket company, SpaceX, from scratch in order to make this dream come true. On September 27th he outlined new plans for rockets that dwarf the Apollo programme’s Saturn V, and for spaceships with room for around 100 passengers that can be refuelled both in orbit and on Mars. Such infrastructure, he says, would eventually allow thousands of settlers to get there for $200,000 each—roughly the median cost of an American house. To deliver such marvels in a decade or so is an order tall enough to reach halfway to orbit itself (see article). But as a vision, its ambition enthralls.

  也许这就是为什么将新生命带到火星上的梦想会如此的激动人心的原因吧。一位名为Elon Musk的企业家白手起家创办了火箭公司SpaceX。他创建这家公司的目的就是为了实现这个梦想。九月二十七日,Elon Musk简述了火箭公司的新计划。此计划准备建造一些比阿波罗探月计划下土星-5号运载火箭还要高级的火箭和一个载客量为100名,并且能够在轨道和火星上补充燃料的宇宙飞船。他表示,最终这些设施将可以把上千名移民送上火星。每名乘客只需花费二十万美元——大概相当于美国人买一套中等房子的价钱。如果能在大概十年内完成这样的奇迹,那么接近离火星轨道的路程就相当于走了一半了(见文章)。不过就一种愿景而言,它的目标还是很吸引人的。

  Stirring:adj. 激动人心的

  entrepreneur:n. 企业家

  outline:vt. 概述

  Apollo:n. 阿波罗(太阳神);美男子

  Orbit:n. 轨道

  infrastructure:n. 基础设施;

  How odd, then, that Mr Musk’s motivation is born in part of a fear as misplaced as it is striking. He portrays a Mars colony as a hedge against Earth-bound extinction. Science-fiction fans have long been familiar with this sort of angst about existential risks—in the 1950s Arthur C. Clarke told them that, confined to Earth “humanity had too many eggs in one rather fragile basket.” Others agree. Stephen Hawking, a noted physicist, is one of those given to such fits of the collywobbles. If humans stick to a single planet, he warns, they will be sitting ducks for a supervirus, a malevolent artificial intelligence or a nuclear war that could finish off the whole lot of them at any time.

  然而奇怪的是起初Musk先生的这一动机一半源自于恐惧,这即放错了地方又显得不同寻常。他把火星描绘成了地球灭绝的殖民地。 科幻迷们早已了解了这种生存的担忧——早在从20世纪五十年代的Arthur C. Clarke就告诉他们人类把自己禁锢在地球上,就是把“人类的鸡蛋都放在同一个易碎的篮子里”。其他人也同意这个说法。著名的物理学家史蒂芬霍金也是这种说法的支持者。他警告说,要是人类坚持在一个星球上生存的话,就会很容易成为一种超级病毒、一个险恶用心的人工智能,或是核战的攻击目标,随时可能全军覆没。

  collywobbles :n. 肚子疼;急性腹泻

  malevolent:adj. 恶毒的;有恶意的;坏心肠的

  Claptrap. It is true that, in the long run, Earth will become uninhabitable. But that long run is about a billion years. To concern oneself with such eventualities is to take an aversion to short-termism beyond the salutary.(读者试译) (For comparison, a billion years ago the most complex creature on the planet was a very simple seaweed.) Yes, a natural or maliciously designed pandemic might kill billions. So might a nuclear war; at a pinch climate change might wreak similar havoc. But extinction is more than just unprecedented mass mortality; it requires getting rid of everyone. Neither diseases nor wars do that.

  听起来这都是哗众取宠。但是长远来看,事实的真相是,终有一天地球会变得不适合人类居住,但这几亿年后才会发生。( 期待您的翻译。)(十亿年前这个星球上最复杂的生物也仅是那些结构非常单一的海藻而已)。是的,自然或用心险恶的瘟疫可能会导致数十亿人死亡。不光是这,一场核战和轻微的气候变化也有可能造成同样的后果。但是前所未有的大规模死亡并不意味着人类的灭绝,灭绝人类的话需要杀光所有的人。这不是疾病或战争就能办到的。

  Claptrap:n. 哗众取宠的话

  Aversion:n. 厌恶

  Salutary:adj. 有益的,有用的;有益健康的

  Maliciously:adv. 有敌意地,恶意地

  Pinch:n. 匮乏;少量;夹痛

  Havoc:n. 大破坏;浩劫;蹂躏

  Otherworldly concerns

  来世的烦恼

  An asteroid as big as the one that dispatched the dinosaurs might take out the whole species, but humans have had the foresight to catalogue the asteroids up to the task and none is coming close in the foreseeable future. So the chance of earthly extinction from any known cause in the next few centuries is remarkably low. As for the unknown—an evil AI, or predatory aliens with intellects as “vast and cool and unsympathetic” as those of Wells’s Martians, or the good old-fashioned wrath of God—why would they wipe humans from the face of one planet while leaving those on the rock next door in peace?

  一个和当年致使恐龙灭绝的同样大小的小行星,就有可能导致人类灭绝。但是人类是有远见的。我们已经特意把小行星编辑造册,并且在可预见的未来没有一颗小行星会驶近地球。所以在接下来几个世纪中,地球由于已知原因灭绝的可能性微乎其微。说回那些未知的因素——邪恶的人工智能,或是如同威尔斯的火星人一样“庞大、冷酷、无情”的智能外星侵略者,或者是旧时说的上帝的愤怒——为什么他们要将人类从地球上抹去,而不去动相邻岩石星球上的人呢?

  Asteroid:n. [天] 小行星

  If worrying about imminent extinction is unrealistic, trying to hide from it is ignoble. At the margins, it is better that the best and brightest share Earth’s risks than have a way to run away from them. Dream of Mars, by all means, but do so in a spirit of hope for new life, not fear of death.

  如果说担心即将来临的灭顶之灾是不切实际的想法,那么尝试去掩盖这一事实就是不光彩的行为。与逃避这一事实相比,最上乘的做法是想办法分担地球的风险。无论如何,火星之梦当然可以有,但是请从创造美好新生活的精神出发,而不是畏惧死亡。

  Imminent:adj. 即将来临的;

  Hide:vi. 隐藏

  ignoble:adj. 不光彩的;卑鄙的;卑贱的

  往期精彩

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  【经济学人】宗教方言丨2016.09.10丨总第675期

  Try to translate

  To concern oneself with such eventualities is to take an aversion to short-termism beyond the salutary.

  Put Chinese below

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