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Was Einstein a Space Alien?

1 Albert Einstein was exhausted. For the third night in a row, his baby son Hans, crying, kept the household awake until dawn. When Albert finally dozed off ... it was time to get up and go to work. He couldn't skip a day. He needed the job to support his young family.

1. 阿尔伯特.爱因斯坦精疲力竭。他幼小的儿子汉斯连续三个晚上哭闹不停,弄得全家人直到天亮都无法入睡。阿尔伯特总算可以打个瞌睡时,已是他起床上班的时候了。他不能一天不上班,他需要这份工作来养活组建不久的家庭。

2 Walking briskly to the Patent Office, where he was a "Technical Expert, Third Class," Albert worried about his mother. She was getting older and frail, and she didn't approve of his marriage to Mileva. Relations were strained. Albert glanced at a passing shop window. His hair was a mess; he had forgotten to comb it again.

2. 阿尔伯特是专利局三等技术专家。在快步去专利局上班的路上,他为母亲忧心忡忡。母亲年纪越来越大,身体虚弱。她不同意儿子与迈尔娃的婚事,婆媳关系紧张。阿尔伯特瞥了一下路过的商店的橱窗,看见自己头发凌乱,他又忘了梳头了。

3 Work. Family. Making ends meet. Albert felt all the pressure and responsibility of any young husband and father.

3. 工作,家庭,维持生计——阿尔伯特感受到了一位年轻丈夫和年轻父亲所要承担的全部压力和责任。

To relax, he revolutionized physics.


4 In 1905, at the age of 26 and four years before he was able to get a job as a professor of physics, Einstein published five of the most important papers in the history of science--all written in his "spare time." He proved that atoms and molecules existed. Before 1905, scientists weren't sure about that. He argued that light came in little bits (later called "photons") and thus laid the foundation for quantum mechanics. He described his theory of special relativity: space and time were threads in a common fabric, he proposed, which could be bent, stretched and twisted.

4. 1905年,在他被聘为物理学教授的前四年,26岁的爱因斯坦发表了科学史上最重要论文中的五篇——这些论文都是他在“业余时间”完成的。他证明了原子和分子的存在。1905年之前,科学家们对此没有把握。爱因斯坦论证说光以微粒形态出现(后来被称为“光子”),这为量子力学奠定了基础。他把狭义相对论描写为:时空如同普通织物中的线,他提出,这些线可以弯曲、拉长和交织在一起。

5 Oh, and by the way, E=mc2.

5. 对了,顺便提一下,E = mc2。

6 Before Einstein, the last scientist who had such a creative outburst was Sir Isaac Newton. It happened in 1666 when Newton secluded himself at his mother's farm to avoid an outbreak of plague at Cambridge. With nothing better to do, he developed his Theory of Universal Gravitation.

6. 在爱因斯坦之前,最近一位迸发出如此创造性思想的科学家当数艾萨克牛顿


7 For centuries historian s called 1666 Newton's “miracle year”. Now those words have a different meaning: Einstein and 1905. The United Nations has declared 2005 "The World Year of Physics" to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Einstein's “miracle year.”

7. 几个世纪以来,历史学家称为1666牛顿的“奇迹年”。现在这些话有不同的意义:爱因斯坦和1905。联合国已经宣布2005年“世界物理年“庆祝爱因斯坦“奇迹年”的100周年。

8 Modern pop culture paints Einstein as a bushy-haired superthinker. His ideas, we're told, were improbably far ahead of other scientists. He must have come from some other planet--maybe the same one Newton grew up on.

8. 现代流行文化把爱因斯坦绘画成一位长着蓬乱头发的超级思想家。据说他的思想不可思议地远远超过其他科学家。他一定是从其他星球来的——也许是牛顿长大的同一个星球。

9 "Einstein was no space alien," laughs Harvard University physicist and science historian Peter Galison. "He was a man of his time." All of his 1905 papers unraveled problems being worked on, with mixed success, by other scientists. "If Einstein hadn't been born, [those papers] would have been written in some form, eventually, by others," Galison believes.

9. “爱因斯坦决不是外星人,”哈佛大学物理学家、科学史家彼得加里森笑着说。“他是他那个时代的人。”他所有发表于1905年的论文解决了当时其他科学家正多多少少在解决的问题,“如果没有爱因斯坦,其他科学家最终也会以某种形式撰写出这些论文来的”加里森相信。

10 What's remarkable about 1905 is that a single person authored all five papers, plus the original, irreverent way Einstein came to his conclusions.

10. 1905年不同寻常的是,爱因斯坦一个人撰写的五篇论文,而且他得出结论的方法既富原创性又显得不合常规。

11 For example: the photoelectric effect. This was a puzzle in the early 1900s. When light hits a metal, like zinc, electrons fly off. This can happen only if light comes in little packets concentrated enough to knock an electron loose. A spread-out wave wouldn't do the photoelectric trick.

11. 例如:光电效应。这在20世纪初期的一道难题。当光照射到金属(如锌)上时,电子飞速飞离电子表面,这种现象只有当光的粒子集聚的程度足以把电子击撞松动的时候才会发生。漫延波不会产生光电效应。

12 The solution seems simple--light is particulate. Indeed, this is the solution Einstein proposed in 1905 and won the Nobel Prize for in 1921. Other physicists like Max Planck (working on a related problem: blackbody radiation), more senior and experienced than Einstein, were closing in on the answer, but Einstein got there first. Why?

12. 答案似乎很简单——光是粒子。事实上,这是爱因斯坦1905年提出的解答,并因此于1921年获得诺贝尔奖。其他物理学家们,比如比爱因斯坦资历更深、经验更丰富的麦克斯普兰克(从事研究相关的问题:黑体辐射),其研究正接近


It's a question of authority.


13 "In Einstein's day, if you tried to say that light was made of particles, you found yourself disagreeing with physicist James Clerk Maxwell. Nobody wanted to do that," says Galison. Maxwell's equations were enormously successful, unifying the physics of electricity, magnetism and optics. Maxwell had proved beyond any doubt that light was an electromagnetic wave. Maxwell was an Authority Figure.

13. “在爱因斯坦的时代,如果你试图说光由粒子组成,你就会发现自己与物理学家杰姆斯.克拉克.马克斯威尔持不同观点。没有人想那么做,”加里森说道。马克斯威尔的方程式把物理学中的电学、磁学和光学统一起来,获得了巨大的成功。麦克斯威尔毫无疑问地证明了光是电磁波。他可是权威人物。

14 Einstein didn't give a fig for authority. He didn't resist being told what to do, not so much, but he hated being told what was true. Even as a child he was constantly doubting and questioning. "Your mere presence here undermines the class's respect for me," spat his 7th grade teacher, Dr. Joseph Degenhart. (Degenhart also predicted that Einstein "would never get anywhere in life.") This character flaw was to be a key ingredient in Einstein's discoveries.

14. 爱因斯坦豪不在乎权威。他不太反对别人要求他做什么,但是他不喜欢别人告诉他什么是正确的。即使在小时候他也不停地质疑和问问题。“你呆在这里损害了全班学生对我尊敬,”他第七年级的老师约瑟夫狄根哈特博士愤怒地说。(狄根哈特还预言爱因斯坦“永远不会有出息”)这一性格缺陷成为日后爱因斯坦作出种种发现的主要因素。

15 "In 1905," notes Galison, "Einstein had just received his Ph.D. He wasn't beholden to a thesis advisor or any other authority figure." His mind was free to roam accordingly.

15. “在1905年,”加里森着重指出,“爱因斯坦刚刚获得博士学位,他不感激于论文导师或任何其他权威人士。”因此,他的思想在自由漫游。

16 In retrospect, Maxwell was right. Light is a wave. But Einstein was right, too. Light is a particle. This bizarre duality baffles Physics 101 students today just as it baffled Einstein in 1905. How can light be both? Einstein had no idea.

16. 回想起来,麦克斯威尔是正确的。光是一种波。但爱因斯坦也是对的。光是粒子。这种异乎寻常的二象性使今天选修无力101课程的同学们感到困惑,就像在1905年使爱因斯坦感到困惑一样。光怎么可能既是波又是粒子呢?爱因斯坦无法理解。

17 That didn't slow him down. Disdaining caution, Einstein adopted the intuitive leap as a basic tool. "I believe in intuition and inspiration," he wrote in 1931. "At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason."

17. 困惑并没有使爱因斯坦放慢探究的脚步。爱因斯坦不屑谨小慎微,他采用直觉跳跃思维作为基本工具。“我相信直觉和灵感,”他在1931年写道。“有时尽管不知道原因,但是我肯定我是对的。

18 Although Einstein's five papers were published in a single year, he had been thinking about physics, deeply, since childhood. "Science was dinner-table

conversation in the Einstein household," explains Galison. Albert's father Hermann and uncle Jakob ran a German company making such things as dynamos, arc lamps, light bulbs and telephones. This was high-tech at the turn of the century, "like a Silicon Valley company would be today," notes Galison. "Albert's interest in science and technology came naturally."

18. 虽说爱因斯坦在短短的一年内发表了五篇论文,其实他童年时代就一直深入地思考物理的问题。“科学是爱因斯坦在餐桌上聊天的话题。”加里森解释道。爱因斯坦的父亲赫尔曼和叔叔雅各布经营一家德国公司,制造发电机,电弧灯,灯泡、电话等诸如此类的产品。这是(20)世纪之初属于高科技,“像今天的硅谷公司,”加里森着重提到。“艾伯特对科学技术与生俱来怀有兴趣。”

19 Einstein's parents sometimes took Albert to parties. No babysitter was required: Albert sat on the couch, totally absorbed, quietly doing math problems while others danced around him. Pencil and paper were Albert's GameBoy!

19. 爱因斯坦的父母有时会带儿子参加聚会。她们不常请人看孩子:当其他人在他周围跳舞时,阿尔伯特坐在沙发上,全神贯注,静静地做数学题。笔和纸是阿尔伯特的玩具!

20 He had impressive powers of concentration. Einstein's sister, Maja, recalled "...even when there was a lot of noise, he could lie down on the sofa, pick up a pen and paper, precariously balance an inkwell on the backrest and engross himself in a problem so much that the background noise stimulated rather than disturbed him." 20. 他有极强的集中思想的能力。爱因斯坦的妹妹玛雅,回忆说:“……即使周围非常吵闹,他也能躺在沙发上,拿起纸和笔,悠悠地把墨水池放在一个靠背上,专心致志得解题,北京声音不但没有打扰他,反而激励他。”

21 Einstein was clearly intelligent, but not outlandishly more so than his peers. "I have no special talents," he claimed, "I am only passionately curious." And again: "The contrast between the popular assessment of my powers ... and the reality is simply grotesque." Einstein credited his discoveries to imagination and pesky questioning more so than orthodox intelligence.


22 Later in life, it should be remembered, he struggled mightily to produce a unified field theory, combining gravity with other forces of nature. He failed. Einstein's brainpower was not limitless.


23 Neither was Einstein's brain. It was removed without permission by Dr. Thomas Harvey in 1955 when Einstein died. He probably expected to find something extraordinary:Einstein's mother Pauline had famously worried that baby Einstein's head was lopsided. (Einstein's grandmother had a different concern: "Much too fat!") But Einstein's brain looked much like any other, gray, crinkly, and, if anything, a trifle smaller than average.

23. 爱因斯坦的大脑也是如此。他1955年去世的时候,托马斯哈维医生在未经许可的情况下解剖了他的大脑。也许他期盼发现一些惊人的东西。但是爱因斯坦死的大脑看起来和其他人的大脑很相似,灰色,波状的。如果非要说什么不同,那就是他的大脑比正常人的小一点。