The Economist 词汇解析(9)

本期原来的书文选自The Economist 2015-8-27的Leaders板块Brave new

Brave new worlds

New discoveries, intelligent devices and
irrepressible【1】dreamers are once again making space exciting


It may turn out to be a bare and barren rock【2】. The fact that
liquid water could be flowing across the surface of the planet just
discovered orbiting Proxima Centauri【3】, the nearest star to
the sun, does not mean that any actually is【4】—nor for that
that it has an atmosphere. The fact that water and air,
if present, could make this new world habitable does not mean that it
is, in fact, a home to alien life.

【2】此处采取了修辞手法“头韵”(Alliteration,也称作head rhyme可能initial

【3】比邻星又称毗邻星,是半人马座α三合星的第③颗星,离太阳方今的一颗恒星(4.22光年)。Proxima自个儿也得以指比邻星,centaur是古希腊共和国(The Republic of Greece)故事中的半人半马怪物,Centaurus是半人马座,拥有两颗一等大星(first
magnitude stars),半人马座A星(Alpha Centauri)和半人马座B星(Beta
Centauri)以及半人马座欧米伽球状星团(the globular cluster Omega

【4】此处省略了一部分用语,结合前面包车型客车分句可知,完整的表述应该是any liquid
water actually is flowing across the 苹果平板 of the planet……


But it might be.

What is exciting about this new world is not what is known—which, so
far, is almost nothing (see page 67). It is what is unknown and the
possibilities it may contain. It is the chance that【6】there is
life beneath that turbulent red sun, and that humans might be able to
recognise it from 40 trillion kilometres away. In the immense
distances of space that is close enough to mean that, some day,
perhaps, someone might send probes to visit it and in so doing
glimpse【7】a totally different form of life. In the thrill
such possibilities sits all that is most promising about the
exploration of space.




All our yesterdays

Next year will mark the 60th anniversary of the first satellite,
Sputnik. The intervening decades have brought wonders. Men have
looked back on【9】the beauty of the Earth from the bright-lit
Moon—and returned safely home. The satellites of America’s Global
Positioning System (GPS) have created a world in which no one need
ever be lost again—changing the human experience of place rather as
the wristwatch changed the experience of time. Robots have
trundled【10】across the plains of Mars and
swooped【11】through the rings of Saturn. The Hubble space
telescope has revealed that wherever you look, if you look hard enough
you will find galaxies scattered like grains of sand across the





Even so, space has of late【13】become a bit dull. No man has
ventured beyond low Earth orbit in more than four decades (no woman
has done so ever). Astronauts and cosmonauts commute to an
International Space Station that has little purpose beyond providing a
destination for their capsules, whose design would have been familiar
in the 1960s. All the solar system’s planets have been visited by
probes. The hard graft【14】of teasing out【15】their
secrets now offers less immediate spectacle.




The use of space is integral to all sorts of things, including the
working of armies, air forces and navies, but its role in GPS—or, for
that matter, Google Maps—barely merits a mention【16】. Some
companies make money from putting satellites into orbit, and not just
the kind that do things for governments. But there is an undeniable
bathos【17】to the fact that the biggest business in arealm once
synonymous with human transcendence is providing viewers on Earthwith
umpty-seven channels of satellite TV.

【16】barely merits a mention大约何足道哉


Now that is changing. The technological progress that has put
supercomputers into the pockets of half the world has made it possible
do a lot more in orbit with much smaller spacecraft. A generation of
entrepreneurs forged in Silicon Valley— and backed by some of its
venture capitalists【18】—are launching highly capable
newdevices ranging in size from shoe boxes to fridges and flying them
inconstellations of dozens or hundreds (see Technology Quarterly).
Such machinesare vastly more capable, kilo for kilo, than their
predecessors and cheaper, toboot. They are making space interesting


The first new businesses are based on something easily returned from
space to Earth: data. Although companies such as DigitalGlobe, in
Denver, have been selling satellite images for decades, most of their
customers have been spooks【19】and soldiers. Today’s
entrepreneurs at companies like Planet, Black- Sky and Spire are
hoping to sell not just snapshots of places that brass
want to peer at【21】. They are offering
comprehensive and constantly updated global data sets. Ever better
machine- learning programs can mine these for information on crops,
shipping, traffic, wildlife or the environment that will be used by
everyone from eco-warriors to hedge funds. Add the potential of small,
smart satellites in their hundreds or even thousands to connect the
billions of people too poor and remote to have yet been reached by the
phone revolution, or the trillions of devices in the “internet of
“, and this new space age will bring more than ever to
the world below.





And that is just the start. Elon Musk, the founder of both Tesla, a
car company, and SpaceX, a rocket company, wants to found a colony on
Mars and will soon be building spacecraft that can go there. Jeff
Bezos, of Amazon, is following a steady and somewhat secretive path
that may one day see the skies filled with automated factories and
asteroid【23】mines. Yuri Milner, an investor who got
intoFacebook early, is spending $100m on the most serious attempt yet
to detect civilisations around other stars. He is also funding a
programme aimed atstudying planets like the one around Proxima
Centauri with probes travelling ata fifth the speed of
light—spacecraft so tiny as to make today’s shoe-box satellites look
like battleships.


New life, and new civilisations Even if they fail, these attempts to
reinvigorate space will be instructive and thrilling. Just as on
Earth, states will always have a role as, among other things,
protectors of their national satellite infrastructure and as the
enforcers of the laws they have put in place to govern the commercial
exploitation of space. But in the years ahead, as the cost of hardware
plummets【24】and as systems on Earth learn to make better use
of data, the growing number of star-struck【25】entrepreneurs
promise to relieve governmentsof the burden of space-age dreams with a
torrent of innovation.



There is no objective need for people to colonise space or for them to
look at planets in other solar systems in order to answer questions
about life’s place in the universe. People can survive without such
journeys or knowledge. Some, though, see the possibilities, stand
in awe【26】
, and start making plans. They may notsucceed. The
planets may turn out to be barren rocks. Infinite space, in the end,
might be just a nutshell’s worth of emptiness.


But, then again, it might not.


  1. 修辞手法:Alliteration 头韵,a bare and barren rock。

  2. 至于太空的辞藻:Proxima

  3. 双重成分能够省略,使句子简洁。

  4. 代表适用于另一种情景的推进关系,能够动用for that matter。

  5. 发布可能时,除了possibility, probability,还足以用chance。


  1. thrill表示惊险、快乐,thriller是高危随笔。

  2. “海洋”的英文,除了ocean, sea,还是能够是the deep。

  3. “近日”的英文,除了recently,还足以是of late。

  4. 费劲的干活,除了hard work,还足以是graft。

  5. “记念”的英文,除了recall,还是能够是look back on。

  6. “俯冲、向下猛冲”,英文只需四个单词swoop。

  7. 带轮子的事物缓慢移动,英文是trundle。

  8. 探讨秘密 tease out a secret。

  9. 必赢亚洲www565net,差不多无足挂齿 barely merit a mention。

  10. 谬误的黑马变化 bathos。

  11. 危机资本 venture capital,危机资本家 venture capitalist。

  12.  spook 除了“鬼”,还有间谋、特务工作职员的意味。

  13. 物联网 internet of things。

  14. 降落、速降 plummet(名词是铅锤的情趣)。

  15. 追星的 star-struck。

  16. 对…敬畏 stand/be in awe of sb/sth。

  17. 狂热的期待家 irrepressible dreamer。

  18. brass 除了黄铜,还足以是要人。



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