Lesson 1 Finding fossil man

We can read of things that happened 5,000 years ago in the Near East, where people first learned to write.

But there are some parts of the word where even now people cannot write. The only way that they can preserve their history is to recount it as sagas — legends handed down from one generation of another. These legends are useful because they can tell us something about migrations of people who lived long ago, but none could write down what they did. Anthropologists wondered where the remote ancestors of the Polynesian peoples now living in the Pacific Islands came from. The sagas of these people explain that some of them came from Indonesia about 2,000 years ago.

But the first people who were like ourselves lived so long ago that even their sagas, if they had any, are forgotten. So archaeologists have neither history nor legends to help them to find out where the first ‘modern men’ came from.
Fortunately, however, ancient men made tools of stone, especially flint, because this is easier to shape than other kinds. They may also have used wood and skins, but these have rotted away. Stone does not decay, and so the tools of long ago have remained when even the bones of the men who made them have disappeared without trace.

我们从书籍中可读到5,000 年前近东发生的事情,那里的人最早学会了写字。但直到现在,世界上有些地方,人们还不会书写。 他们保存历史的唯一办法是将历史当作传说讲述,由讲述人一代接一代地将史实描述为传奇故事口传下来。人类学家过去不清楚如今生活在太平洋诸岛上的波利尼西亚人的祖先来自何方,当地人的传说却告诉人们:其中一部分是约在2,000年前从印度尼西亚迁来的。


然而, 幸运的是,远古人用石头制作了工具,特别是用燧石,因为燧石较之其他石头更容易成形。他们也可能用过木头和兽皮,但这类东西早已腐烂殆尽。石头是不会腐烂的。因此,尽管制造这些工具的人的骨头早已荡然无存,但远古时代的石头工具却保存了下来。


Lesson 2 Spare that spider

Why, you may wonder, should spiders be our friends? Because they destroy so many insects, and insects include some of the greatest enemies of the human race. Insects would make it impossible for us to live in the world; they would devour all our crops and kill our flocks and herds, if it were not for the protection we get from insect-eating animals. We owe a lot to the birds and beasts who eat insects but all of them put together kill only a fraction of the number destroyed by spiders. Moreover, unlike some of the other insect eaters, spiders never do the harm to us or our belongings.

Spiders are not insects, as many people think, nor even nearly related to them. One can tell the difference almost at a glance, for a spider always has eight legs and insect never more than six.

How many spiders are engaged in this work no our behalf? One authority on spiders made a census of the spiders in grass field in the south of England, and he estimated that there were more than 2,250,000 in one acre; that is something like 6,000,000 spiders of different kinds on a football pitch. Spiders are busy for at least half the year in killing insects. It is impossible to make more than the wildest guess at how many they kill, but they are hungry creatures, not content with only three meals a day. It has been estimated that the weight of all the insects destroyed by spiders in Britain in one year would be greater than the total weight of all the human beings in the country.

你可能会觉得奇怪, 蜘蛛怎么会是我们的朋友呢?因为它们能消灭那么多的昆虫,其中包括一些人类的大敌,要不是人类受一些食虫动物的保护,昆虫就会使我们无法在地球上生活下去,昆虫会吞食我们的全部庄稼,杀死我们的成群的牛羊。我们要十分感谢那些吃昆虫的鸟和兽,然而把它们所杀死的昆虫全部加在一起也只相当于蜘蛛所消灭的一小部分。此外,蜘蛛不同于其他食虫动物,它们丝毫不危害我们和我们的财物。




Lesson 3 Matterhorn man

Modern alpinists try to climb mountains by a route which will give them good sport, and the more difficult it is, the more highly it is regarded. In the pioneering days, however, this was not the case at all. The early climbers were looking for the easiest way to the top, because the summit was the prize they sought, especially if it and never been attained before. It is true that during their explorations they often faced difficulties and dangers of the most perilous nature, equipped in a manner with would make a modern climber shudder at the thought, but they did not go out of their way to court such excitement. They had a single aim, a solitary goal — the top!

It is hard for us to realize nowadays how difficult it was for the pioneers. Except for one or two places such as Zermatt and Chamonix, which had rapidly become popular, Alpine village tended to be impoverished settlements cut off from civilization by the high mountains. Such inns as there were generally dirty and flea-ridden; the food simply local cheese accompanied by bread often twelve months old, all washed down with coarse wine. Often a valley boasted no inn at all, and climbers found shelter wherever they could — sometimes with the local priest (who was usually as poor as his parishioners), sometimes with shepherds or cheese-makers. Invariably the background was the same: dirt and poverty, and very uncomfortable. For men accustomed to eating seven-course dinners and sleeping between fine linen sheets at home, the change to the Alps must have very hard indeed.

现代登山运动员总想找一条能够给他们带来运动乐趣的路线来攀登山峰。他们认为, 道路愈艰险愈带劲儿。然而,在登山运动的初期,全然不是这种情况。早期登山者所寻找的是通往山顶的最方便的途径,因为顶峰特别是前人未曾到过的顶峰 — 才是他们寻求的目标。确实,在探险中他们经常遇到惊心动魄的困难和危险,而他们装备之简陋足以使现代登山者一想起来就胆战心惊。但是,他们并非故意寻求这种刺激,他们只有一个目标,唯一的目标 — 顶峰!

我们今天很难想像昔日的登山先驱们是多么艰苦。除了泽曼特和夏蒙尼等一两个很快出了名的地方外,阿尔卑斯山山区的小村几乎全是高山环抱、与世隔绝的穷乡僻壤。那里的小客栈一般都很肮脏,而且跳蚤猖獗。 食物是当地的干酪和通常存放了一年之久的面包,人们就着劣酒吞下这种食物。山谷里常常没有小客栈,登山者只好随遇而安。有时同当地牧师 (他通常和他的教民一样穷)住在一起,有时同牧羊人或制乳酪的人住在一起。无论住在哪儿,情况都一样:肮脏、贫穷,极其不舒适。对于过惯了一顿饭吃7道菜、睡亚麻细布床单的人来说,变换一下生活环境来到阿尔卑斯山山区,那一定是很艰难的。


Lesson 4 Seeing hands

Several cases have been reported in Russia recently of people who can detect colours with their fingers, and even see through solid and walls. One case concerns and eleven-year-old schoolgirl, Vera Petrova, who has normal vision but who can also perceive things with different parts of her skin, and through solid walls. This ability was first noticed by her father. One day she came into his office and happened to put her hands on the door of a locked safe. Suddenly she asked her father why he kept so many old newspapers locked away there, and even described the way they were done up in bundles.

Vera’s curious talent was brought to the notice of a scientific research institute in the town of Ulyanovsk, near where she lives, and in April she was given a series of tests by a special commission of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federal Republic. During these tests she was able to read a newspaper through an opaque screen and, stranger still, by moving her elbow over a child’s game of Lotto she was able to describe the figures and colours printed on it; and, in another instance, wearing stockings and slippers, to make out with her foot the outlines and colours of a picture hidden under a carpet. Other experiments showed that her knees and shoulders had a similar sensitivity. During all these tests Vera was blindfold; and, indeed, except when blindfold she lacked the ability to perceive things with her skin. It was also found that although she could perceive things with her fingers this ability ceased the moment her hands were wet.

俄罗斯最近报导了几个事例,有人能用手指看书识字和辨认颜色,甚至能透过厚实的门和墙看到东西。 其中有一例谈到有一个名叫维拉.彼托洛娃的11岁学生。她的视力与常人一样,但她还能用皮肤的不同部位辨认东西,甚至看穿坚实的墙壁。是她父亲首先发现她这一功能的。一天,维拉走进父亲的办公室,偶然把手放在一个锁着的保险柜的门上,她突然问父亲为什么把这么多的旧报纸锁在柜子里,还说了报纸捆扎的情况。



Lesson 5 Youth

People are always talking about ‘the problem of youth’. If there is one — which I take leave to doubt — then it is older people who create it, not the young themselves. Let us get down to fundamentals and agree that the young are after all human beings — people just like their elders. There is only one difference between an old man and a young one: the young man has a glorious future before him and the old one has a splendid future behind him: and maybe that is where the rub is.

When I was a teenager, I felt that I was just young and uncertain — that I was a new boy in a huge school, and I would have been very pleased to be regarded as something so interesting as a problem. For one thing, being a problem gives you a certain identity, and that is one of the things the young are busily engaged in seeking.

I find young people exciting. They have an air of freedom, and they not a dreary commitment to mean ambitions or love of comfort. They are not anxious social climbers, and they have no devotion to material things. All this seems to me to link them with life, and the origins of things. It’s as if they were, in some sense, cosmic beings in violent and lovely contrast with us suburban creatures. All that is in my mind when I meet a young person. He may be conceited, ill-mannered, presumptuous or fatuous, but I do not turn for protection to dreary cliches about respect of elders — as if mere age were a reason for respect. I accept that we are equals, and I will argue with him, as an equal, if I think he is wrong.

人们总是在谈论“青年问题”。如果这个问题存在的话 — 请允许我对此持怀疑态度 — 那么,这个问题是由老年人而不是青年人造成的。让我们来认真研究一些基本事实:承认青年人和他们的长辈一样也是人。老年人和青年人只有一个区别:青年人有光辉灿烂的前景,而老年人的辉煌已成为过去。 问题的症结恐怕就在这里。

我十几岁时,总感到自己年轻,有些事拿不准 — 我是一所大学里的一名新生,如果我当时真的被看成像一个问题那样有趣,我会感到很得意的。因为这至少使我得到了某种承认,这正是年轻人所热衷追求的。



Lesson 6 The sporting spirit

I am always amazed when I hear people saying that sport creates goodwill between the nations, and that if only the common peoples of the would could meet one another at football or cricket, they would have no inclination to meet on the hattlefield. Even if one didn’t know from concrete examples (the 1936 Olympic Games, for instance) that international sporting contests lead to orgies of hatred, one could deduce if from general principles.

Nearly all the sports practised nowadays are competitive. You play to win, and the game has little meaning unless you do your utmost to win. On the village green, where you pick up sides and no feeling of local patriotism is involved, it is possible to play simply for the fun and exercise: but as soon as a the question of prestige arises, as soon as you feel that you and some larger unit will be disgraced if you lose, the most savage combative instincts are aroused. Anyone who has played even in a school football match knows this. At the international level, sport is frankly mimic warfare. But the significant thing is not the behaviour of the players but the attitude of the spectators: and, behind the spectators, of the nations who work themselves into furies over these absurd contests, and seriously believe — at any rate for short periods — that running, jumping and kicking a ball are tests of national virtue.


现在开展的体育运动几乎都是竞争性的。参加比赛就是为了取胜。如果不拚命去赢,比赛就没有什么意义了。 在乡间的草坪上,当你随意组成两个队,并且不涉及任何地方情绪时,那才可能是单纯的为了娱乐和锻炼而进行比赛。可是一量涉及到荣誉问题,一旦你想到你和某一团体会因为你输而丢脸时,那么最野蛮的争斗天性便会激发起来。即使是仅仅参加过学校足球赛的人也有种体会。在国际比赛中,体育简直是一场模拟战争。但是,要紧的还不是运动员的行为,而是观众的态度,以及观众身后各个国家的态度。面对着这些荒唐的比赛,参赛的各个国家会如痴如狂,甚至煞有介事地相信 — 至少在短期内如此 — 跑跑、跳跳、踢踢球是对一个民族品德素质的检验。


Lesson 7 Bats

Not all sounds made by animals serve as language, and we have only to turn to that extraordinary discovery of echo-location in bats to see a case in which the voice plays a strictly utilitarian role.

To get a full appreciation of what this means we must turn first to some recent human inventions. Everyone knows that if he shouts in the vicinity of a wall or a mountainside, an echo will come back. The further off this solid obstruction, the longer time will elapse for the return of the echo. A sound made by tapping on the hull of a ship will be reflected from the sea bottom, and by measuring the time interval between the taps and the receipt of the echoes, the depth of the sea at that point can be calculated. So was born the echo-sounding apparatus, now in general use in ships. Every solid object will reflect a sound, varying according to the size and nature of the object. A shoal of fish will do this. So it is a comparatively simple step from locating the sea bottom to locating a shoal of fish. With experience, and with improved apparatus, it is now possible not only to locate a shoal but to tell if it is herring, cod, or other well-known fish, by the pattern of its echo.

It has been found that certain bats emit squeaks and by receiving the echoes, they can locate and steer clear of obstacles — or locate flying insects on which they feed. This echo-location in bats is often compared with radar, the principle of which is similar.





Lesson 8 Trading standards

Chickens slaughtered in the United States, claim officials in Brussels, are not fit to grace European tables. No, say the American: our fowl are fine, we simply clean them in a different way. These days, it is differences in national regulations, far more than tariffs, that put sand in the wheels of trade between rich countries. It is not just farmers who are complaining. An electric razor that meets the European Union’s safety standards must be approved by American testers before it can be sold in the United States, and an American-made dialysis machine needs the EU’s okay before is hits the market in Europe.

As it happens, a razor that is safe in Europe is unlikely to electrocute Americans. So, ask businesses on both sides of the Atlantic, why have two lots of tests where one would do? Politicians agree, in principle, so America and the EU have been trying to reach a deal which would eliminate the need to double-test many products. They hope to finish in time for a trade summit between America and the EU on May 28TH. Although negotiators are optimistic, the details are complex enough that they may be hard-pressed to get a deal at all.

Why? One difficulty is to construct the agreements. The Americans would happily reach one accord on standards for medical devices and them hammer out different pacts covering, say, electronic goods and drug manufacturing. The EU — following fine continental traditions — wants agreement on general principles, which could be applied to many types of products and perhaps extended to other countries.


碰巧在欧洲使用安全的剃须刀不大可能使美国人触电身亡,因此,大西洋两岸的企业都在问,当一套测试可以解决问题时,为什么需要两套呢?政治家在原则上同意了, 因此,美国和欧洲一直在寻求达成协议,以便为许多产品取消双重检查。他们希望尽早达成协议,为5月28日举行的美国和欧洲贸易的最高通级会议作准备。然谈判代表持乐观态度,但协议细节如此复杂,他们所面临的困难很可能使他们无法取得一致。

为什么呢?困难之一是起草这些协议。美国人很愿意就医疗器械的标准达成一个协议,然后推敲出不同的合同,用以涵盖 — 比如说 — 电子产品和药品的生产。欧洲人遵循优良的大陆传统,则希望就普遍的原则取得一致,而这些原则适用于许多不同产品,同时可能延伸到其它国家。


Lesson 9 Royal espionage

Alfred the Great acted his own spy, visiting Danish camps disguised as a minstrel. In those days wandering minstrels were welcome everywhere. They were not fighting men, and their harp was their passport. Alfred had learned many of their ballads in his youth, and could vary his programme with acrobatic tricks and simple conjuring.

While Alfred’s little army slowly began to gather at Athelney, the king himself set out to penetrate the camp of Guthrum, the commander of the Danish invaders. There had settled down for the winter at Chippenham: thither Alfred went. He noticed at once that discipline was slack: the Danes had the self-confidence of conquerors, and their security precautions were casual. They lived well, on the proceeds of raids on neighbouring regions. There they collected women as well as food and drink, and a life of ease had made them soft.

Alfred stayed in the camp a week before he returned to Athelney. The force there assembled was trivial compared with the Danish horde. But Alfred had deduced that the Danes were no longer fit for prolonged battle: and that their commissariat had no organization, but depended on irregular raids.

So, faced with the Danish advance, Alfred did not risk open battle but harried the enemy. He was constantly on the move, drawing the Danes after him. His patrols halted the raiding parties: hunger assailed the Danish army. Now Alfred began a long series of skirmishes — and within a month the Danes had surrendered. The episode could reasonably serve as a unique epic of royal espionage!






Lesson 10 Silicon valley

Technology trends may push Silicon Valley back to the future. Carver Mead, a pioneer in integrated circuits and a professor of computer science at the California Institute of Technology, notes there are now work-stations that enable engineers to design, test and produce chips right on their desks, much the way an editor creates a newsletter on a Macintosh. As the time and cost of making a chip drop to a few days and a few hundred dollars, engineers may soon be free to let their imaginations soar without being penalized by expensive failures. Mead predicts that inventors will be able to perfect powerful customized chips over a weekend at the office — spawning a new generation of garage start-ups and giving the U.S. a jump on its foreign rivals in getting new products to market fast. ‘We’re got more garages with smart people,’ Mead observes. ‘We really thrive on anarchy.’

And on Asians. Already, orientals and Asian Americans constitute the majority of the engineering staffs at many Valley firms. And Chinese, Korean, Filipino and Indian engineers are graduating in droves from California’s colleges. As the heads of next-generation start-ups, these Asian innovators can draw on customs and languages to forge righter links with crucial Pacific Rim markets. For instance, Alex Au, a Stanford Ph. D. from Hong Kong, has set up a Taiwan factory to challenge Japan’s near lock on the memory-chip market. India-born N.Damodar Reddy’s tiny California company reopened an AT & T chip plant in Kansas City last spring with financing from the state of Missouri. Before it becomes a retirement village, Silicon Valley may prove a classroom for building a global business.

技术的发展趋势有可能把硅谷重新推向未来。卡弗.米德 — 集成电路的一位先驱,加州理工学院的计算机教授 — 注意到,现在有些计算机工作站使工程技术人员可以在他们的办公桌上设计、试验和生产芯片,就像一位编辑在苹果机上编出一份时事通讯一样。由于制造一块芯片的时间已缩短至几天,费用也只有几百美元,因此,工程技术人员可能很块就可充分发挥他们的想像力,而不会因失败而造成经济上的损失。米德预言发明者可以在办公室用一个周末的时间生产了完美的、功能很强的、按客户需求设计的芯片 — 造就新一代从汽车间起家的技术人员,在把产品推向市场方面使美国把它的外国对手们打个措手不及。 “我们有更多的汽车间,那里有许多聪明人,”米德说。“我们确实是靠这种无政府状态发展起来的。” 靠的是亚洲人。硅谷许多公司中工程技术人员的大多数是东方人和亚裔美国人。中国、韩国、菲律宾和印度的工程师一批批地从加州的大学毕业。作为新掘起一代的带头人,亚裔发明家可以凭借他们在习惯和语言上的优势,与关键的太平洋沿岸市场建立起更加牢固的联系。比如说,亚历克斯.奥,一位来自香港的斯坦福大学博士,已经在台湾建厂,对日本在内存条市场上近似垄断的局面提出了挑战。印度出生的N.达莫达.雷迪经营的小小的加州公司在堪萨斯城重新启用了美国电话电报公司的一家芯片工厂,并从密苏里州获取了财政上的支持。在硅谷变成一个退休村之前,它很可能成为建立全球商业的一个教学场地。


Lesson 11 How to grow old

Some old people are oppressed by the fear of death. In the young there is a justification for this feeling. Young men who have reason to fear that they will be killed in battle may justifiably feel bitter in the thought that they have cheated of the best things that life has to offer. But in an old man who has known human joys and sorrows, and has achieved whatever work it was in him to do, the fear of death is somewhat abject and ignoble. The best way to overcome it — so at least it seems to me — is to make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life. An individual human existence should be like a river — small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past boulders and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being. The man who, in old age, can see his life in this way, will not suffer from the fear of death, since the things he cares for will continue. And if, with the decay of vitality, weariness increases, the thought of rest will be not unwelcome. I should wish to die while still at work, knowing that others will carry on what I can no longer do, and content in the thought that what was possible has been done.

有些老年人因为怕死而感到烦恼。青年人有这种感觉是情有可原的。有理由害怕自己会死在战场上的年轻人,想到自己被剥夺了生活所能给予的最美好的东西时,感到痛苦,这是可以理解的。可是老年人已经饱尝了人间的甘苦,一切能做的都做了,如果怕死,就有点儿可怜又可鄙。克服怕死的最好办法 — 至少在我看来是这样 — 就是逐渐使自己的兴趣更加广泛,逐渐摆脱个人狭小的圈子,直到自我的围墙一点一点地倒塌下来,自己的生活慢慢地和整个宇宙的生活融合在一起。个人的存在应该像一条河流,开始很小,被紧紧地夹在两岸中间,接着热情奔放地冲过巨石,飞下瀑布。然后河面渐渐地变宽,两岸后撤,河水流得平缓起来,最后连绵不断地汇入大海,毫无痛苦地失去了自我的存在。上了年纪的人这样看待生命,就不会有惧怕死亡的心情了,因为自己关心的一切事件都会继续下去。 再者,随着精力的衰退,老年人的疲惫会增长,有长眠的愿望未尝不是一件好事情,我希望工作到死为止,明白了有人会继续我的未竟事业,想到能做的事都做了,也就坦然了。


Lesson 12 Banks and their customers

When anyone opens a current account at a bank, he is lending the bank money, repayment of which he may demand at any time, either in cash or by drawing a cheque in favour of another person. Primarily, the banker-customer relationship is that of debtor and creditor — who is which depending on whether the customer’s account is in credit or is overdrawn. But, in addition to that basically simple concept, the bank and its customer owe a large number of obligations to one another. Many of these obligations can give in to problems and complications but a bank customer, unlike, say, a buyer of goods, cannot complain that the law is loaded against him.

The bank must obey its customer’s instructions, and not those of anyone else. When, for example, a customer first opens an account, he instructs the bank to debit his account only in respect of cheques draw by himself. He gives the bank specimens of his signature, and there is a very firm rule that the bank has no right or authority to pay out a customer’s money on a cheques on which its customer’s signature has been forged. It makes no difference that the forgery may have been a very skilful one: the bank must recognize its customer’s signature. For this reason there is no risk to the customer in the practice, adopted by banks, of printing the customer’s name on his cheques. If this facilitates forgery, it is the bank which will lose, not the customer.




Lesson 1