外语教育网
您的位置:外语教育网 > 行业英语 > 科技英语 正文
  • 站内搜索:

How to Become a Scientist

2006-07-23 17:12

  Looking back at the time, nearly seventy years ago, when the love of science took hold of1 me, I think of no big event but of many small things that influenced me. As a child I read books and learned lessons, but I did not have much curiosity about the natural world. This began to change when I looked at the stars. In Australia, where I grew up, the skies are often clear. I learned to recognize the stars and the constellations2, and I chose a book about astronomy3 for a school prize in 1931. The stars are there, you cannot change them, you can learn about them only by measuring their positions and analysing the light that comes from them. But they taught me a lesson in science when I learned about the solar system4 and was able on a clear night to picture myself as a mote5 on a rotating6 globe, carried along the earth's orbit7 and looking outward.

  I began to be interested in chemistry8 soon after that. And at school my chemistry teacher was able to interest his class and he encouraged us to think and experiment. At that time one could buy small amounts of many common chemicals and I made a little laboratory at home, with improvised9 equipment, to study chemical reactions. I soon discovered that the organic10 chemicals were the most interesting. With the help of a textbook on practical organic chemistry I made many preparations, using cheap chemicals to prepare those that were too expensive for me to buy. This was more satisfying than astronomy , you can change things by your own effort. At that time I was rapidly losing my hearing, so I suppose that the work attracted me also for its impact11 on the other senses: the beauties of crystals12 and distilled13 liquids, the colours of dyes14, and smells both good and bad. As a carpenter15 or a carver16 learns to work with the grain17 of wood or bone, I learned that each substance has its own nature and can be easy or difficult to handle according to the procedure chosen. I began to see experiments as I see them now, not only as procedures to answer questions or to make compounds18 but as opportunities to observe what happens and to learn from mistakes.

  When I went to Sydney University the most important event for me was access to a library of the chemical literature19. Because by this time I could not hear any lectures, I learned from handbooks and journals. Many of them were in German, which I did not know. So I found a German dictionary and looked up each new word until I understood them all. Reading the literature helped me to become a scientist because it showed me the evidence behind the things that we had to learn; and some of this evidence was incorrect. I began to see science as a continuous process of discovery and correction.

  At that time I used to walk with friends in the Australian bushland20. One morning we were resting beside a river. I turned over so that my face was close to the grass, and I began to count all the different kinds of plant that I could see. There were more than twenty of them, all different, each of them beautiful in its own way. This was really the beginning of my curiosity about living things. I brought back from these walks some fruits——wild grapes, and some berries with a bitter taste——and took them into the laboratory and extracted21 pure compounds from them. This was not a very good way to study the chemistry of life, but I began to be interested in the life sciences and to read biological text-books. At that time they mostly described and classified things that nobody understood. But later, when I started to work with life scientists, I could understand their viewpoints and could use my chemistry to solve problems that interested all of us.

  All this time I was learning more and more , as I still do, about the detail of chemistry. There is so much detail that you cannot keep all of it in your head, although it is very helpful to know how to look for it. What you can do is to form in your mind an idea, a pattern, of what is possible and what is not possible in chemistry. This helps you to make new compounds and to understand new reactions and structures. When the literature, or one of your own experiments, presents you with a new fact, you compare it with the pattern in your mind. Often the new fact fits into the pattern easily. But sometimes, the fact does not fit. Then you check, and sometimes you find that a mistake has been made. But if there is no mistake, you must change your pattern to fit the new fact, and you learn more about your science on these occasions than at any other time.

  I am sure that many other people became scientists in much the same way as I did. It starts with curiosity: you ask questions, you read what other people have written, and then you begin to find ways of answering your own questions. You never stop learning. All the time, everything becomes more interesting and beautiful the more you understand it. And best of all you become part of a great company of people, all over the earth, who share your curiosity and your search for truth and who will share their knowledge with you whenever they are allowed to do so.

  回想过去,大约70年前,占据我身心的是对科学的热爱,我想不出有什么影响我的重大事件,而是想到了许多影响过我的小事。当我作为一个孩子开始读书上学时,对自然界并没有多少好奇心。后来我开始观察天上的星星,情况就发生了改变。我是在澳大利亚长大的,那里的天空经常是晴朗的,我学会了辨认星星和星座。 1931年,我在学校获奖,在学校准备的各种奖品中我选择了一本关于天文学的书。星星就挂在天上,你不能改变它们,但你能够通过测定它们的位置和分析它们射来的光,掌握有关它们的情况。当我了解了太阳系,并在晴朗的夜空里把自己设想成旋转的地球上的一粒微尘,被地球带着沿着它的轨道观察天空时,这给我上了一堂科学课。

  不久,我开始对化学感兴趣。在学校里,化学老师的讲课非常有趣,并且鼓励我们思考和做实验。那时,可以少量地买到多种普通化学试剂,我就在家里建了一个很小的实验室,用自制的简单仪器研究化学反应。我很快就发现有机化合物是最有趣的。在实用有机化学教科书的帮助下,我用廉价的化学原料配制出很多我买不起的制剂,这比天文学更加令人兴奋,因为你可以用自己的努力来改变事物。那时,我的听力正在迅速衰退。所以,我认为化学能吸引我的另一个原因是:它能刺激人的其他感觉功能,美丽的晶体和蒸馏液、色彩斑斓的染料,还有那种种好闻和难闻的气味。就像一个木匠或雕刻匠学习用一小块木头或骨头干活那样,我通过实验了解到每一种物质都有自己的特性,而且可以加工处理,其难易程度视所选择的处理方法而定。于是我认识到实验不仅是回答问题或合成化合物的一系列操作程序,而且是我们观察所发生的事情和从错误中学习的良好机会。直到今天,我对实验的这种认识也没有改变。

  进入悉尼大学后,对我来说最重大的事件莫过于有机会利用化学文献图书馆。当时,我已经听不见讲课了,所以要从各种杂志和手册中去学习。其中有不少书刊是用德文写的,我看不懂,就找了一本德文字典,逐个查找生字,直到完全弄懂为止。阅读文献帮助我成为了一名科学家,因为这些文献向我揭示了我们必须学习的知识所依据的证据,而其中有些证据是不正确的,于是我开始把科学看成是不断发现和修正错误的连续过程。

  那段时间,我常和朋友去澳大利亚原始森林地带散步。一天早上,我们正躺在河边休息,我翻过身去使我的脸更贴近草,然后查点所见的所有不同种类的植物,总共有20多种。它们形态各异,每一种都有自己独特的动人之处。这是我对生物感到好奇的真正开端。每次散步我都带回一些果实,其中有野葡萄和带苦味的浆果,我还在实验室从这些果实中提取纯净化合物。尽管这并不是研究生命的化学的最好办法,但这使我对生命科学产生了兴趣,并且促使我阅读了一些生物学的教科书。那时的书主要是对那些人们还不了解的事物进行描述和分类,但后来当我与生命科学家一起工作时,我就能够理解他们的观点了,并用我的化学知识去解决我们大家都感兴趣的问题。

  我对化学越钻越深,接触到的知识越积越多,我现在仍坚持这么做。尽管在这期间你不可能将这一切都牢记于心,但掌握查找它们的方法是很有用的。你能做的就是在头脑里形成一个概念、一个模式:在化学中哪些事是办得到的,哪些是办不到的。这可以帮助你制造出新的化合物,理解新的化学反应和结构。当化学文献或你做的实验给你提供了新的事实,你把它与自己头脑里的概念作一比较,通常这新的事实易于与你脑中的概念契合。但有时不能,那你就要核查一下。有时,你会发现你已经犯了错误。但是如果你没有错,你就必须改变你头脑中原有的概念,使之与新的事实相吻合。这种情况下,你学到的知识比任何其他时候学到的都要多。

  我相信,许多人成为科学家的道路与我是大致相同的:从好奇开始,提出疑问,阅读别人写的书,然后开始找到能回答自己疑问的方法。你永不停止学习。任何事情你对它懂得越多,它就会变得愈加美丽、愈加有趣。而且,最妙的是:你已成为一个大集体(其成员遍布全球)中的一员,他们有跟你一样的好奇心,有跟你一样对真理的探索,并且每当他们可以和你一起分享他们所拥有的知识时,他们都将这样做。兴趣的问题。

  我对化学越钻越深,接触到的知识越积越多,我现在仍坚持这么做。尽管在这期间你不可能将这一切都牢记于心,但掌握查找它们的方法是很有用的。你能做的就是在头脑里形成一个概念、一个模式:在化学中哪些事是办得到的,哪些是办不到的。这可以帮助你制造出新的化合物,理解新的化学反应和结构。当化学文献或你做的实验给你提供了新的事实,你把它与自己头脑里的概念作一比较,通常这新的事实易于与你脑中的概念契合。但有时不能,那你就要核查一下。有时,你会发现你已经犯了错误。但是如果你没有错,你就必须改变你头脑中原有的概念,使之与新的事实相吻合。这种情况下,你学到的知识比任何其他时候学到的都要多。

  我相信,许多人成为科学家的道路与我是大致相同的:从好奇开始,提出疑问,阅读别人写的书,然后开始找到能回答自己疑问的方法。你永不停止学习。任何事情你对它懂得越多,它就会变得愈加美丽、愈加有趣。而且,最妙的是:你已成为一个大集体(其成员遍布全球)中的一员,他们有跟你一样的好奇心,有跟你一样对真理的探索,并且每当他们可以和你一起分享他们所拥有的知识时,他们都将这样做。

  注释:

  1.take hold of 控制,掌握,占有

  2.constellation n.星座

  3.astronomy n.天文学

  4.solar system [天]太阳系

  5.mote n.尘埃,微粒

  6.rotate vi.旋转,转动

  7.orbit n.[天]轨道

  8.chemistry n.化学

  9.improvise vt.临时凑成

  10.organic adj.[化]有机的

  11.impact n.影响,作用

  12.crystal n.[化]结晶(体)

  13.distilled adj.用蒸馏法提得(制成的)

  14.dye n.染料、染液

  15.carpenter n.木匠

  16.carver n.雕刻者

  17.grain n.一点儿,些微

  18.compound n.化合物

  19.literature n.文献,图书资料

  20.bushland n.原始森林地带

  21.extract vt.提取,提炼

相关热词:科技 英语

上一篇:用GPS跟踪偷车贼

下一篇:On Mobile Office

行业英语辅导课程
李 健协和医科大学医学博士,美国国立卫生研究院博士后……详情>>
李健:医学英语网上辅导名师
高 云澳大利亚注册会计师协会会员,会计专业硕士……详情>>
高云:财会英语网上辅导名师
李文沛中国政法大学博士,师从著名法学家周忠海教授……详情>>
李文沛:法律英语网上辅导名师

  1、凡本网注明 “来源:外语教育网”的所有作品,版权均属外语教育网所有,未经本网授权不得转载、链接、转贴或以其他方式使用;已经本网授权的,应在授权范围内使用,且必须注明“来源:外语教育网”。违反上述声明者,本网将追究其法律责任。
  2、本网部分资料为网上搜集转载,均尽力标明作者和出处。对于本网刊载作品涉及版权等问题的,请作者与本网站联系,本网站核实确认后会尽快予以处理。本网转载之作品,并不意味着认同该作品的观点或真实性。如其他媒体、网站或个人转载使用,请与著作权人联系,并自负法律责任。
  3、联系方式
  编辑信箱:for68@chinaacc.com
  电话:010-82319999-2371