Knowledge and progress 知识和进步
Why does the idea of progress loom so large in the modern world? Surely progress of a particular kind is actually taking place around us and is becoming more and more manifest. Although mankind has undergone no general improvement in intelligence or morality, it has made extraordinary progress in the accumulation of knowledge.
Knowledge began to increase as soon as the thoughts of one individual could be communicated to another by means of speech. With the invention of writing, a great advance was made, for knowledge could then be not only communicated but also stored. Libraries made education possible, and education in its turn added to libraries: the growth of knowledge followed a kind of compound interest law, which was greatly enhanced by the invention of printing. All this was comparatively slow until, with the coming of science, the tempo was suddenly raised. Then knowledge began to be accumulated according to a systematic plan. The trickle became a stream; the stream has now become a torrent. Moreover, as soon as new knowledge is acquired, it is now turned to practical account. What is called 'modern civilization' is not the result of a balanced development of all man's nature. but of accumulated knowledge applied to practical life.
The problem now facing humanity is: What is going to be done with all this knowledge? As is so often pointed out, knowledge is a two-edged weapon which can be used equally for good or evil. It is now being used indifferently for both. Could any spectacle, for instance, be more grimly whimsical than that of gunners ourselves very seriously what will happen if this twofold use of knowledge, with its ever-increasing power, continues.
Bird flight 鸟的飞行方法
No two sorts of birds practise quite the same sort of flight; the varieties are infinite; but two classes may be roughly seen. Any shi that crosses the Pacific is accompanied for many days by the smaller albatross, Which may keep company with the vessel for an hour without visible or more than occasional movement of wing. The currents of air that the walls of the ship direct upwards, as well as in the line of its course, are enough to give the great bird with its immense wings sufficient sustenance and progress. The albatross is the king of the gliders, the class of fliers which harness the air to their purpose, but must yield to its opposition. In the contrary school, the duck is supreme. It comes nearer to the engines with which man has 'conquered' the air, as he boasts. Duck, and like them the pigeons, are endowed with such-like muscles, that are a good part of the weight of the bird, and these will ply the short wings with such irresistible power that they can bore for long distances through an opposing gale before exhaustion follows.
Their humbler followers, such as partridges, have a like power of strong propulsion, but soon tire. You may pick them up in utter exhaustion, if wind over the sea has driven them to a long journey. The swallow shares the virtues of both schools in highest measure. It tires not, nor does it boast of its power; but belongs to the air, travelling it may be six thousand miles to and from its northern nesting home, feeding its flown young as it flies, and slipping through we no longer take omens from their flight on this side and that; and even the most superstitious villagers no longer take off their hats to the magpie and wish it good-morning.
A young man sees a sunset and, unable to understand or to express the emotion that it rouses in him, concludes that it must be the gateway to world that lies beyond. It is difficult for any of us in moments of intense aesthetic experience to resist the suggestion that we are catching a glimpse of a light that shines down to us from a different realm of existence, different and, because the experience is intensely moving, in some way higher. And, though the gleams blind and dazzle, yet do they convey a hint of beauty and serenity greater than we have known or imagined. Greater too than we can describe; for language, which was invented to convey the meanings of this world, cannot readily be fitted to the uses of another.
That all great has this power of suggesting a world beyond is undeniable. In some moods, Nature shares it. There is no sky in June so blue that it does not point forward to a bluer, no sunset so beautiful that it does not waken the vision of a greater beauty, a vision which passes before it is fully glimpsed, and in passing leaves and indefinable longing and regret. But, if this world is not merely a bad joke, life a vulgar flare amid the cool radiance of the stars, and existence an empty laugh braying across the mysteries; if these intimations of a something behind and beyond are not evil humour born of indigestion, or whimsies sent by the devil to mock and madden us. if, in a word, beauty means something, yet we must not seek to interpret the meaning. If we glimpse the unutterable, it is unwise to try to utter it, nor should we seek to invest with significance that which we cannot grasp. Beauty in terms of our human meanings is meaningless.
Waves are the children of the struggle between ocean and atmosphere, the ongoing signatures of infinity. Rays from the sun excite and energize the atmosphere of the earth, awakening it to flow, to movement, to rhythm, to life. The wind then speaks the message of the sun to the sea and the sea transmits it on through waves -- an ancient, exquisite, powerful message.
These ocean waves are among the earth's most complicated natural phenomena. The basic features include a crest (the highest point of the wave), a trough (the lowest point), a height (the vertical distance from the trough to the crest), a wave length (the horizontal distance between two wave crests), and a period (which is the time it takes a wave crest to travel one wave length).
Although an ocean wave gives the impression of a wall of water moving in your direction, in actuality waves move through the water leaving the water about where it was. If the water was moving with the wave, the ocean and everything on it would be racing in to the shore with obviously catastrophic results. An ocean wave passing through deep water causes a particle on the surface to move in a roughly circular orbit, drawing the particle first towards the advancing wave, then up into the wave, then forward with it and then -- as the wave leaves the particles behind -- back to its starting point again.
From both maturity to death, a wave is subject to the same laws as any other 'living' thing. For a time it assumes a miraculous individuality that, in the end, is reabsorbed into the great ocean of life.
The undulating waves of the open sea are generated by three natural causes: wind, earth movements or tremors, and the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun. Once waves have been generated, gravity is the force that drives them in a continual attempt to restore the ocean surface to a flat plain.
海浪是大海和空气相斗的'产物，无限的一种不间断的标志。太阳光刺激了地球的大气层，并给予它能量；阳光使空气开始流动，产生节奏，获得生命。然后，风把太阳的住处带给了大海，海洋用波浪的形式传递这个信息 -- 一个源过流长、高雅而有力的信息。
穿过深水的海浪使水面上的一个微粒按照一种近乎圆形的轨道移动，先把微粒拉向前移动的海浪，然后推上波浪，随着波浪移动，然后 -- 当波浪把微粒留在身后时 -- 又回到出发点。
Finding fossil man 发现化石人
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。
Spare that spider 不要伤害蜘蛛
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.
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。
The sporting spirit 体育的精神
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。
How to grow old 如何安度晚年
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。
Banks and their customers 银行和顾客
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.