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Evolutionary Biologist

(2007-05-10 21:51:14)
 
Evolutionary Biologist—Charles Darwin进化论生物学家——查尔斯·达尔文

By Mike Pilewski

张永芳 译

medium

 

进化论从出现至今已有百余年的历史了,然而有关进化与神创、科学与宗教的斗争至今仍在继续。作为进化论的创始人,达尔文到底是一个什么样的人呢?他当初又有着怎样的经历呢?让我们读读这篇生动有趣的生平介绍吧!

 

It seems that every other day brings a “revolution in science”: a new discovery or a new product that promises to change the way we do something forever. Very few of these revolutions have been as fundamental as they claim to be, however. Perhaps only two have changed the very way mankind sees its place in the universe. The first revolution happened when Nicolaus Copernicus no longer saw the Earth as a motionless point at the centre of the universe but as moving in “revolutions”, or circles, around the sun. The second happened when Charles Darwin realized that that same Earth, along with the living creatures upon it, was always changing, or evolving, through natural means.

似乎每隔一天都要上演一场“科学革命”:一个新发现或是一种新产品,它们都有可能永远改变我们某些做事的方式。然而,它们当中却鲜有如其所宣称的那样意义重大的革命。或许只有两次革命彻底改变了人类对自己在宇宙中地位的看法。当尼古拉斯·哥白尼不再把地球看作是宇宙中心一个静止不动的点,而是围绕太阳作旋转运动,或者可以说是绕着太阳转圈时,第一场革命爆发了。当查尔斯·达尔文意识到,就是这同一个地球以及生活在上面的所有生物都通过种种自然方式不断地改变或是演化时,第二场革命爆发了。

 

Born in Shrewsbury, England, in 1809, Darwin was the son of a wealthy doctor. At the age of 14, he went to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh, but found that surgery was too much for him. Instead, he began learning about the natural world as a pupil of Robert Grant, an expert on sponges. As they looked for sea creatures together on the Firth of Forth, Grant taught Darwin about the remarkable theories of several French scientists.

1809年,达尔文出生于英格兰(西部)什鲁斯伯里市的一位富裕医生之家。14岁时,他来到爱丁堡大学学医,但发现自己受不了手术这种事,于是转而研究自然世界,师从海绵学专家罗伯特·格兰特。他们在佛斯河河口一起探寻海洋生物时,格兰特向达尔文传授了几位法国科学家非同寻常的理论。

 

Georges Cuvier had looked at fossils in rock strata and observed how the ones that lay deeper looked less like familiar animals. But Etienne St. Hilaire observed that all living animals had similar organs and anatomies. To Jean-Baptiste Lamarck this meant that, over time, all animals were changing their form.

乔治·居维叶通过观察岩石层中的化石发现:岩层越深,化石与相类动物的共性就越少;然而艾奇恩那·圣伊莱尔却发现,所有活着的动物都有着相似的器官和身体结构;在让·巴蒂斯特·拉马克看来,这意味着所有动物都随着时间的推移改变着它们的形态。

 

Darwin was fascinated. Unable to finish his medical studies, though, he was sent by his father to Cambridge to study theology. It wasn’t long before there, too, Darwin turned to biology. His hobby of collecting beetles led him to a botany professor, Reverend J. S. Henslow, who invited Darwin to join his natural history course. Darwin learned well; and when he finished his studies, Henslow arranged for him to join a two-year expedition on the HMS Beagle to South America in December 1831.

达尔文着迷了。但由于他未能完成医学学业,父亲又把他送到剑桥学习神学。到剑桥不久,达尔文再次转向生物学。收集甲虫的爱好让他结交了一位植物学教授,J. S. 亨斯洛神父。神父邀请达尔文去听自己的自然历史课。达尔文学习出色,在他完成学业后,1831年12月,亨斯洛安排他跟随英国皇家海军舰艇“比格尔号”到南美洲进行一项为期两年的科学探险活动。

 

The Beagle was on a mission to map the coastline for commercial and military purposes. Darwin was allowed to go on land often, where he made fascinating discoveries. He found the Brazilian rainforest a “chaos of delight”. He pulled out huge fossils of ancient animals from cliffs in Patagonia, and experienced an earthquake so powerful that it threw land up out of the sea. Crossing the Andes at an elevation of 4,000 metres, he found fossils of seashells in the rocks. Not far away was a petrified forest that had once been buried in sand.

“比格尔号”的使命是绘制海岸线地图,以用于商业及军事目的。达尔文获准可以经常登陆,在岸上他获得很多有趣的发现。他发现巴西雨林是一处“快乐的混沌世界”;他从巴塔哥尼亚高原的悬崖峭壁上挖出了巨大的古代动物化石;而且还经历了一次威力大得把陆地从海底掀起的地震;在穿过海拔4000米的安第斯山脉时,他发现了岩石中的海贝壳化石,不远处还有一片曾被沙子埋没的石化森林。

 

Darwin’s enormous numbers of specimens and detailed notes on what he saw were sent back to Cambridge on other ships whenever the Beagle reached a major port. The voyage continued on to Tahiti and Australia, lasting three years longer than planned. Darwin returned to England 171 years ago, on 2 October 1836, to find that he was famous.

“比格尔号”每到一个主要港口,达尔文就把大量的标本以及关于自己所见所闻的详细笔记运上其他船只送回剑桥。“比格尔号”继续远航,到达了塔希提岛和澳大利亚,比原先计划的多航行了三年。171年前,也就是1836年10月2日,达尔文返回英国,发现自己已成了名人。

 

The leading scientists of the day were waiting to talk to him. Ornithologist John Gould told him the birds he had studied on the Galapagos Islands were perfectly adapted to the island environment. Palaeontologist Richard Owen told him the fossils he had found were of extinct relatives of South American animals living today.

当时的顶尖科学家们都在等待着跟达尔文讨论(他的这些发现)。鸟类学家约翰·古尔德告诉达尔文说,他在加拉帕戈斯群岛研究的鸟类与该岛环境完全契合;古生物学家理查德·欧文则对他说,他发现的化石是现今生活在南美洲的动物业已灭绝的亲属。

 

In the stress of getting his journals and the reports on them ready for publication, Darwin began to suffer from an unknown illness. He went to stay with an aunt, and grew closer to her daughter, Emma Wedgwood. Darwin considered asking her to marry him. The reason for doing so, he wrote, was: “constant companion and a friend in old age... better than a dog, anyhow”. Reasons not to: “less money for books” and “terrible loss of time”. The couple were married after all, in 1839; they had ten children, three of whom died young.

在准备出版这些研究发现的日志和报告的压力下,达尔文开始患上一种不明疾病。他搬到一位姨妈家居住,并与她的女儿爱玛·韦奇伍德渐生情愫。达尔文打算向她求婚。他写道,这样做的理由是:“忠实伴侣和晚年时的朋友……不管怎么说,总比一只狗强。”不这样做的理由则是:“花在书上的钱少了”并且“时间的严重浪费”。最终,两人于1839年成婚,他们共育有10个子女,其中三个夭折。

 

Darwin was a successful geologist by day, and worked on his incomplete theory of evolution as a hobby for 20 years. He knew it would be controversial. It would, he said, be “like confessing a murder”. In 1859, he published On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. The book immediately sold out. The scientific community was split, and Darwin was often drawn in caricatures such as the one shown here.

达尔文在当时是一名成功的地质学家,致力于研究自己尚不完善的进化理论,并将其作为自己的业余爱好坚持了20年之久。他知道该理论将颇具争议。他说,这会“像承认谋杀罪一样”。1859年,他出版了《物种起源》一书,一上市便销售一空。科学阵营分裂了,达尔文则经常被画进如本文上一页所示的这类漫画里。

 

Illness kept Darwin from making many public appearances, but he continued to work and write at home. In his 1871 work The Descent of Man, Darwin concluded, “Man, with all his noble qualities ... with his godlike intellect, which has penetrated into the movements and constitution of the solar system ... still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.”

因为疾病,达尔文很少在公开场合露面,但他坚持在家中工作和写作。在达尔文1871年出版的《人类的起源》一书中,他总结道:“人类,具备所有的高贵品质……具有神一般的智慧,令他能够洞悉太阳系的运行和构造……但他的肉体却仍然刻有无法抹煞的卑微出身印记。”

 

Darwin died in 1882. Decades later, his findings still so shook the world that they were the subject of legal debate, particularly in the United States. In the famous Scopes “monkey trial” of 1925, a Tennessee schoolteacher defended his teaching of evolution in a courtroom, but lost the case. In 1968, the US Supreme Court decided in favour of the evolutionists. Since then, a movement driven by American Protestant churches has sought to introduce the teaching of “intelligent design” in schools in several US states.

达尔文于1882年逝世。数十年之后,他的研究发现在世界上仍然具有强大的震撼力,依然经常成为法律辩论的话题,在美国尤甚。在著名的1925年斯科普斯“猴子审判案”中,一位田纳西州的教师在法庭上为自己讲授进化论辩护,却输掉了官司。1968年,美国联邦最高法院最终支持了进化论者。从那时起,美国新教教会发起了一项运动,寻求在美国几个州的学校里引进“智能设计理论”的教学。

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