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兔灰灰的小窝

每天进步一点点

 
 
 

日志

 
 

万物简史  

2012-08-07 23:36:00|  分类: 原著欣赏 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

  下载LOFTER 我的照片书  |

这是看得最累最慢的一本书,几次想要放弃,看在买正版所化掉的米上,更因为当初选择本书也是为了改变阅读结构,拓展阅读面,所以还是坚持了下来,断断续续化了半年时间,以至于看到后来已忘记前面是什么内容了,到最后基本不知所云。^0^

A Short History of Nearly Everything

万物简史 - 兔灰灰 - 兔灰灰的小窝
 
部分句子摘录:
 
***Survival on Earth is a surprisingly tricky business.
 
***The average species on Earth lasts for only about four million years, so if you wish to be around for
billions of years, you must be as fickle as the atoms that made you. You must be prepared to change
everything about yourself-shape, size, color, species affiliation, everything-and to do so repeatedly. That's
much easier said than done, because the process of change is random.
 
***There is of course a great deal we don’t know, and much of what we think we know we haven’t known, or
thought we’ve known, for long. Even the notion of the Big Bang is quite a recent one.
 
***the Big Bang represents some sort of transition phase, where the universe went from a form we can’t
understand to one we almost can.
 
***Inflation theory explains the ripples and eddies that make our universe possible. Without it, there would
be no clumps of matter and thus no stars, just drifting gas and everlasting darkness.
 
***The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.
 
***Stars die all the time. What Bob Evans does better than anyone else who has ever tried is spot these
moments of celestial farewell.   
 
***A star can burn for billions of years, but it dies just once and quickly, and only a few dying stars explode.
Most expire quietly, like a campfire at dawn.  
 
***It’s one of those rare areas where the absence of evidenceis evidence.  
 
***It was the first realization that matter can be transformed but not eliminated. If you burned this book now,
its matter would be changed to ash and smoke, but the net amount of stuff in the universe would be the
same.  
 
***As is often the way in science, the principle had actually been anticipated three years previously by an
amateur chemist in England named John Newlands.
 
***In fact, of course, the world was about to enter a century of science where many people wouldn’t
understand anything and none would understand everything. Scientists would soon find themselves adrift in
a bewildering realm of particles and antiparticles, where things pop in and out of existence in spans of time
that make nanoseconds look plodding and uneventful, where everything is strange. Science was moving
from a world of macrophysics, where objects could be seen and held and measured, to one of
microphysics, where events transpire with unimaginable swiftness on scales far below the limits of
imagining.       
 
***if you had to reduce scientific history to one important statement it would be “All things are made of
atoms.” They are everywhere and they constitute every thing.  
 
***Chemists tend to think in terms of molecules rather than elements in much the way that writers tend to
think in terms of words and not letters,
 
***The upshot is that physics had two theories, based on conflicting premises, that produced the same
results. It was an impossible situation.  
 
 ***String theory has further spawned something called “M theory,” which incorporates surfaces known as
membranes—or simply “branes” to the hipper souls of the world of physics. I’m afraid this is the stop on the
knowledge highway where most of us must get off.   
 
*** “Scientifically, it’s clearly more or less complete nonsense,” Columbia University physicist Peter Woit
told the New York Times, “but these days that doesn’t much distinguish it from a lot of the rest of the
literature.”  
 
***there may not be an ultimate theory for physics—that, rather, every explanation may require a further
explanation, producing “an infinite chain of more and more fundamental principles.   
 
***The theory is that empty space isn’t so empty at all—that there are particles of matter and antimatter
popping into existence and popping out again—and that these are pushing the universe outward at an
accelerating rate.  
 
***Sometimes the world just isn’t ready for a good idea.  
 
***Old ideas die hard, and not everyone rushed to embrace the exciting new theory.      
   
***The history of any one part of the Earth, like the life of a soldier, consists  of long periods of boredom and
short periods of terror.      
 
***But life is hardy, and when the smoke cleared there were enough lucky survivors from every species that
none permanently perished.   
 
***The good news, it appears, is that it takes an awful lot to extinguish a species. The bad news is that the
good news can never be counted on. Worse still, it isn’t actually necessary to look to space for petrifying
danger. As we are about to see, Earth can provide plenty of danger of its own.   
 
***The scale is of course more an idea than an object, an arbitrary measure of the Earth’s tremblings based
on surface measurements. It rises exponentially, so that a 7.3 quake is fifty times more powerful than a 6.3
earthquake and 2,500 times more powerful than a 5.3 earthquake.  
 
***At least theoretically, there is no upper limit for an earthquake—nor, come to that, a lower limit.   
All this means that the most fearsome quakes are not necessarily the most forceful, though force obviously
counts for a lot.  
***Yellowstone, I hardly need point out, is sensationally beautiful, with plump, stately mountains, bison-
specked meadows, tumbling streams, a sky-blue lake, wildlife beyond counting. 
 
***But the thing is, most of the time bad things don’t happen. Rocks don’t fall. Earthquakes don’t occur. New
vents don’t suddenly open up. For all the instability, it’s mostly remarkably and amazingly tranquil.”
 “Like Earth itself,” I remarked.
 “Precisely,” he agreed.   
 
***Venus is only twenty-five million miles closer to the Sun than we are. The Sun’s warmth reaches it just two
minutes before it touches us. In size and composition, Venus is very like Earth, but the small difference in
orbital distance made all the difference to how it turned out.
***The Moon’s steady gravitational influence keeps the Earth spinning at the right speed and angle to
provide the sort of stability necessary for the long and successful development of life.
 
***Warm air can hold more moisture than cool air, which is why tropical and summer storms tend to be the
heaviest.
 
***The oceans are not one uniform mass of water. Their differences in temperature, salinity, depth, density,
and so on have huge effects on how they move heat around, which in turn affects climate.
 
***Even humans are 65 percent water, making us more liquid than solid by a margin of almost two to one.
Water is strange stuff. It is formless and transparent, and yet we long to be beside it. It has no taste and yet
we love the taste of it.

***A glass of water may not appear terribly lively, but every molecule in it is changing partners billions of
times a second.
 
***Of the twenty-three main divisions of life, only three—plants, animals, and fungi—are large enough to be
seen by the human eye, and even they contain species that are microscopic.
 
***that most microorganisms are neutral or even beneficial to human well-being.
Altogether, only about one microbe in a thousand is a pathogen for humans,
 
***History, Jared Diamond notes, is full of diseases that “once caused terrifying epidemics and then
disappeared as mysteriously as they had come.
 
***A great deal of sickness arises not because of what the organism has done to you but what your body is
trying to do to the organism. In its quest to rid the body of pathogens, the immune system sometimes
destroys cells or damages critical tissues, so often when you are unwell what you are feeling is not the
pathogens but your own immune responses.
 
***Viruses prosper by hijacking the genetic material of a living cell and using it to produce more virus.
They also have an unnerving capacity to burst upon the world in some new and startling form and then to
vanish again as quickly as they came.
 
***Evolutionary success, it appeared, was a lottery.
 
***All the Ediacaran creatures were diploblastic, meaning they were built from two layers of tissue. With the
exception of jellyfish, all animals today are triploblastic.
Some experts think they weren’t animals at all, but more like plants or fungi. The distinctions between plant
and animal are not always clear even now.
 
***Lichens are just about the hardiest visible organisms on Earth, but among the least ambitious. They will
grow happily enough in a sunny churchyard, but they particularly thrive in environments where no other
organism would go—on blowy mountaintops and arctic wastes, wherever there is little but rock and rain and
cold, and almost no competition.
 
***“They simply exist,” Attenborough adds, “testifying to the moving fact that life even at its simplest level
occurs, apparently, just for its own sake.”
 
***Life, in short, just wants to be. But—and here’s an interesting point—for the most part it doesn’t want to be
much.
 
***Extinction is always bad news for the victims, of course, but it appears to be a good thing for a dynamic
planet.
***Life wants to be; life doesn’t always want to be much; life from time to time goes extinct. Life goes on.
 
***Taxonomy is described sometimes as a science and sometimes as an art, but really it’s a battleground.
Even today there is more disorder in the system than most people realize.
 
***In short, the remarkable position we find ourselves in is that we don’t actually know what we actually know.
 
***Every cell in nature is a thing of wonder. Even the simplest are far beyond the limits of human ingenuity.
To build the most basic yeast cell, for example, you would have to miniaturize about the same number of
components as are found in a Boeing 777 jetliner and fit them into a sphere just five microns across; then
somehow you would have to persuade that sphere to reproduce.
 
***Even for its full-time occupants the inside of a cell is a hazardous place. Each strand of DNA is on
average attacked or damaged once every 8.4 seconds—ten thousand times in a day—by chemicals and
other agents that whack into or carelessly slice through it, and each of these wounds must be swiftly stitched
up if the cell is not to perish.
 
***life is a perpetual struggle and that natural selection was the means by which some species prospered
while others failed. Specifically what Darwin saw was that all organisms competed for resources, and those
that had some innate advantage would prosper and pass on that advantage to their offspring.
 
***We are also uncannily alike. Compare your genes with any other human being’s and on average they will
be about 99.9 percent the same. That is what makes us a species.
 
***It is a notable oddity of biology that DNA and proteins don’t speak the same language.
To communicate they need a mediator in the form of RNA.
 
***The desire to breed, to disperse one’s genes, is the most powerful impulse in nature.
From an evolutionary point of view, sex is really just a reward mechanism to encourage us to pass on our
genetic material.
***there are three stages in scientific discovery: first, people deny that it is true; then they deny that it is
important; finally they credit the wrong person.
 
***It is natural to suppose that global warming would act as a useful counterweight to the Earth’s tendency to
plunge back into glacial conditions.
 
***“The body is in constant danger of being depleted by a greedy brain, but cannot afford to let the brain go
hungry as that would rapidly lead to death.” A big brain needs more food and more food means increased
risk.
 
***Homo erectus was the first to hunt, the first to use fire, the first to fashion complex tools, the first to leave
evidence of campsites, the first to look after the weak and frail.
 
***Nobody knows quite how destructive human beings are, but it is a fact that over the last fifty thousand
years or so wherever we have gone animals have tended to vanish, in often astonishingly large numbers.
 
***But here’s an extremely salient point: we have been chosen, by fate or Providence or whatever you wish
to call it. As far as we can tell, we are the best there is. We may be all there is. It’s an unnerving thought that
we may be the living universe’s supreme achievement and its worst nightmare simultaneously.
 
***As humans we are doubly lucky, of course: We enjoy not only the privilege of
existence but also the singular ability to appreciate it and even, in a multitude of ways, to make it better. It is
a talent we have only barely begun to grasp.
 
 

 

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