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开始翻译《科学浩劫》(Armageddon Science)

(2011-03-30 02:12:38)
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开始翻译《科学浩劫》(Armageddon <wbr>Science)

 

 

科学浩劫

王祖哲与山东大学外国语学院的学生 译

湖南科学技术出版社 将出版

 

 

Mass destruction—killing on a vast scale—is a uniquely human concern. It's not that other animal species aren't threatened by it. Many have been driven to extinction, and many more now teeter on the brink. But unlike human beings, even the most intelligent animals don't worry about the possibility of being wiped out in a terrible catastrophe. It is only thanks to the human ability to contemplate the future that fears of mass destruction have arisen. As the continued popularity of disaster movies at the box office demonstrates, we are all too aware how, as a race, we might be wiped out.

    【1】大规模破坏——杀人如麻——唯独人类有这份担忧。这并非说其他动物物种就不受它的威胁。许多物种已经被逼入绝境,更多的如今踉跄在生死之间。但是,与人类不同,连最聪明的动物也不为在一场浩劫中被尽数扫荡这种可能性忧心。仅仅由于人类有能力思虑未来,才出现了对大规模破坏的恐惧。正如一直受欢迎的灾难片的票房所表明的,身为同一个种族的我们大家,太清楚我们可能会怎样被尽数消灭。

 

Mass destruction has, historically, been a natural phenome­non. The Earth has witnessed widespread devastation numerous times, most famously in the destruction of the dinosaurs 65 mil­lion years ago. We could still see a similar act of mass destruction【2】in the future that does not require a human hand behind it. But with the introduction of the weapon of mass destruction, the notion is most commonly associated with the work of the mad—or at best, amoral—scientist.

    在历史上,大规模破坏一直是一个自然现象。地球多次见证过浩劫,最著名的是6500百万年前恐龙的毁灭。在未来,我们或许仍然能看到一场类似的毁灭大戏,那场毁灭也不需要人类染指。但是,有了大规模杀伤性武器的面世,浩劫最可能与疯狂的——或者至少是不道德的——科学家的研究工作有关。

 

The term "weapons of mass destruction" first appeared in a Christmas sermon by the archbishop of Canterbury in 1937. He encouraged his audience to promote peace. "Who can think without dismay of the fears, jealousies and suspicions which have compelled nations, our own among them, to pile up their armaments," he said. "Who can think without horror of what another widespread war would mean, waged as it would be with all the new weapons of mass destruction," The archbishop was concentrating on the political will to use such weapons. His was a generation that had lived through the First World War, expecting it to be the "war to end all wars," yet was seeing the rapid buildup of military might in Europe as the Second World War loomed. However responsible politics was for the warfare, though, it goes without saying that scientists would be the ones who made such weapons exist.

“大规模杀伤性武器”这个术语,首次出现在坎特伯雷大主教在1937年做的一场基督教布道中。他鼓励他的听众促进和平。“谁都能惊愕地想到,恐惧、嫉恨和猜疑,迫使各国(我们自己的国家就在其中)积存军备,”他说,“谁都能恐怖地想到,另一场大战意味着什么,那将用上全部大规模杀伤的新式武器。”这位主教集中演说的是使用这种武器的政治意图。他那一代人经受了第一次世界大战,期望那是一次“结束全部战争的战争”;他们看到的却是欧洲在快速积累军事力量,第二次世界大战迫在眉睫。然而,无论政治为战争负多大责任,科学家们是放那些武器出笼的人,却自不待言。

 

It's a truth that can't be avoided. Science itself—or at least, the application of science—has a dark side. Scientists present us with dangerous gifts.

    那无可避免,这是真的。科学本身——起码对科学的运用——有一个黑暗面。科学家送给了我们一些危险的礼物。

 

This isn't a new idea, though for a brief period—from Victorian times through to the mid-twentieth century—scientists were seen in quite a different light. New technologies and scientific develop¬ments transformed the unpleasant life suffered by the vast major¬ity of the population into a new kind of existence. It was no longer necessary to spend every moment scratching out a living. For the first time, it wasn't just the rich and powerful who had time for 【3】leisure and enjoyment of life. Scientists were briefly considered saviors of our race.

    这主意不新鲜,尽管有短暂的一段时候——从维多利亚时代,到二十世纪中叶——科学家在众人的眼里的形象相当不同了。新技术和科学发展把大多数人遭受的那种不愉快的日子改造得焕然一新。把每时每刻花费在生计上,不再必要了。亘古第一次,有闲暇享受生活的人,不仅是有钱有势的。科学家干脆被视为我们种族的大救星。

 

These men (and back then they almost all were men) were bold bringers of wonderful new things, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny rolled into one real package that delivered all year round. All the marvels of electricity, of modern medicine, of new modes of transport and labor-saving devices, were their gift. And we still see echoes of this in TV ads for beauty products, where the person in the white coat is the bringer of magic ingredients that are guaranteed to make you look better and younger.

    这些人(在往昔几乎全是男人)是一些胆大的主儿,带来令人着迷的新东西。圣诞老人和复活节兔子,滚进了一个真实的口袋里,一年到头地送货。电器、现代药物、新式交通和省力的用具,这些神奇之物就是他们送来的礼品。在美容品的电视广告里,我们仍然看到这个福音的回声:一个穿白大褂的人,送来了奇异的配方,保证让你摸样好看又年轻。

 

But the warning of Pandora's box, the dangers inherent in bringing knowledge into the world, could not be held off for long. If you live in a physically dangerous environment, trying new things, finding things out, is a high-risk strategy. If a cave person decided to experiment with a new approach to saber-toothed tigers, patting them on the head instead of sticking them with a spear, she would soon be a one-armed cave person. For most of history, the scientist and his predecessor, the natural philosopher, have been characters of suspicion, closely allied with magicians, sorcerers, and other dabblers in arcane arts. This was not a stereotype that even the wonders of nineteenth- and twentieth-century technology could hold off for long.

    但是,潘多拉的盒子的警告,即把知识带到世界上,有内在的危险,不可长久充耳不闻。如果你住在一个对身体危险的环境里,尝试新东西,发现新东西,就是一种高度危险的策略。如果一个洞穴人决定实验一种新路子,来凑近剑齿虎,拍拍它的脑袋,而不扎它一枪,他很快会成为独臂洞穴人。在大部分的历史上,科学家和他的先辈们(自然哲学家),一直是一些满腹狐疑的主儿,跟术士、巫师和其他那些玩弄秘术的家伙过从甚密。连十九和二十世纪的技术也不能长久抵抗住这些玩意儿的魅力,这么说不算老生常谈。

 

Scientists as dangers to the world would return in pulp fiction and cheap movies, where they are often portrayed as barely human. At best, these driven souls are over-idealistic and unworldly. They are what my grandmother would have called "all cleverness and no common sense." They are innocents who don't know—or don't care—what the outcomes of their acts will be. At the nasty end of the spectrum, they are even worse, evil beings filled with a frenzied【4】determination to achieve world domination or to pursue what they see as scientific truth at any cost.

    科学家对世界是危险之物,此说在地摊小说和廉价电影里起死回生,在其中科学家被描绘成了赤裸裸的人类。往好里说,这些不安分的灵魂,过于理想主义了,太不通世故了。他们是我奶奶所谓的那种“全然聪明但缺乏常识”的家伙。他们很天真,不知道——或者也不在乎——他们会鼓捣出什么结果来。往坏里说,他们更加糟糕而邪恶,有狂热的决心,要称霸世界,要不惜任何代价追求被他们视为科学真理的那种东西。

 

Such two-dimensional, caricature scientists don't care whom they trample to reach their goal. They have a casual disregard for the impact of what they do on human life—or even on the planet as a whole. They are scientific Nazis for whom the end always justifies the means. They are nothing short of monsters in human form.

    这种肤浅的、小丑式的科学家,为了达到目的,才不在乎把谁踩在脚下。他们干的事情对人类有什么影响,甚至对整个地球有什么影响,他们麻木不仁。他们是科学上的纳粹,在他们看来,目的是好的,总可以不择手段。他们简直是一些披着人皮的魔鬼。

 

Practically all the scientists I have ever met are not like this. They are warm, normal people. They have the same concerns as everyone else about the world their children will inhabit, the same worries that preoccupy us all. Admittedly some are unashamed geeks—and if you consider a "geek" anyone who has a sense of wonder about the universe he lives in, it's a group in which I happily proclaim my membership—but they aren't inhuman thinking machines. So where did this idea come from?

    实话实说,我见过的全部科学家都不像这样。他们是热心肠的正常人。关于他们的孩子将要居住的这个世界,他们的关心一如他人,他们的担忧一如我们心里想的那些。应该承认,有些科学家是一些不害臊的痴人——如果你认为一个“痴人”就是对他身处其中的这个宇宙有惊讶之感的人,那么我就很高兴宣布我是这群人中的一员——但是,他们不是非人类的思想机器。因此,痴人一说是从哪儿来的呢?

 

Inevitably science fiction has to bear a fair amount of the blame for this portrayal. When the teenage Mary Godwin (soon to become Mary Shelley) first penned Frankenstein on a traumatic vacation in an Italian villa, she certainly had in mind that her character was playing God. He admits as much in his confession that opens this chapter, "It was the secrets of heaven and earth that I desired to learn." There is no modesty here—Victor Frankenstein wants to be a master of the universe, and his talkative creation, very different from the shambling, incoherent creature of the movies, spends great swaths of text agonizing over the dangers of this philosophy.

    关于科学家的这副嘴脸,科幻小说在一定程度上难辞其咎。少女玛丽·葛德文(很快改姓成了玛丽·雪莱)在一个意大利别墅里度过了一次很受伤的假期,第一次动笔写《弗兰肯斯坦》,此时她脑子里的那个人物肯定在扮演上帝。他在本章开篇的那句话里坦白得够露骨,“我渴望知道的,正是天地的秘密。”这里没有什么谦虚——维克多·弗兰肯斯坦想成为宇宙的主人,他创造出来的那个喋喋不休的生灵,和电影里的那些呆头呆脑、语无伦次的东西大不一样,花费了大量篇幅,苦苦思考这种哲学的危险。

 

Yet Mary Shelley's Baron Frankenstein is not quite yet the archetypal mad scientist—an expression that would become so【5】common as to be a cliche. It first took those doyens of nineteenth-and twentieth-century science fiction, Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, to show us just how driven their imagined scientists could be. So Verne's Captain Nemo could be a merciless killer, and Wells would give us characters like the Invisible Man, driven insane by his search for knowledge, and Dr. Moreau, who despoiled animal and human alike with his merciless vivisection.

    但是,玛丽·雪莱的弗兰肯斯坦男爵,无论如何也不是司空见惯的那么一个疯癫的科学家——这个说法太普遍了,成了陈词滥调。小说开始谈到了十九和二十世纪的科幻前辈,儒勒·凡尔纳和赫伯特·威尔斯,以此向我们显示:他们想象的那些科学家有多么有大志。因此,凡尔纳的尼摩船长能够是一个无情的杀手,而威尔斯给我们的人物,如“隐身人”被追求知识搞得走火入魔了,“莫洛博士”连兽带人一起抓,好做他残忍的活体解剖。

 

The final nail in the coffin would come with the contribution of Hollywood. Here Victor Frankenstein would be transformed from a thoughtful (if megalomaniac) philosopher to a crazed, wide-eyed freak. On celluloid would be born the evil genius Rotwang in Fritz Lang's stunning silent movie Metropolis, and Peter Sellers's darkly humorous portrayal of the appalling Dr. Strangelove. These movie madmen would be joined by the living incarnations of evil comic-book scientific geniuses, from Lex Luthor to the Green Goblin,

    最后一枚棺材钉,是好莱坞的贡献。在这里,维克多·弗兰肯斯坦,从一位深思熟虑的(或许也是狂妄自大的)哲学家,摇身一变成了一个疯狂的大眼怪。在胶片上,将诞生邪恶的天才“罗唐”,这是弗里茨·朗令人瞠目的默片《大都市》里的人物,以及彼得·塞勒斯的以黑色幽默刻画的可怕的“奇爱博士”。邪恶的漫画书里的科学天才,从“莱克斯·卢瑟”到“绿魔鬼”,将加入电影里的这些疯子的行列。

 

Even when a scientist managed to be one of the good guys, such as Doc Brown in the Back to the Future series of movies, he still sported the wild hair (Einstein can probably be blamed for this) and semi-irrational behavior of his more dangerous equivalents. Perhaps most telling of all, Hollywood would give us Forbidden Planet, with Doctor Morbius and his "monsters from the id"— destructive forces released by expanding the capacity of the human mind.

    即便一个科学家能对付着成为好人中的一员,如系列片《回到未来》中的“布朗博士”,他也仍然炫耀一头乱发(为此爱因斯坦多半难辞其咎),举止半疯,倒不像他那些更危险的同道那样完全疯掉。最能说明问题的,是好莱坞给了我们《禁忌星球》,连同莫比厄斯博士及其“来自伊德的那些鬼怪”——扩张人类心灵而放出来的破坏力量。

 

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