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困扰传奇科学家的三个“恶魔”

The 3 ‘demons’ that haunted legendary scientists | Jimena Canales | Big Think

If one opens a new dictionary and you go to the entry of demon
如果有人打开一本新的字典 然后去查看有关恶魔的部分
one of the entries refers to the scientific demons
有一部分讲述的就是有关科学研究中的恶魔
Descartes’ demon, Laplace’s demon, Maxwell’s demon……
笛卡尔的“恶魔” 拉普拉斯的“恶魔” 麦克斯韦的“恶魔”……
they’re not considered to be real when they are first mentioned
在这些理论被初次提出时 没有人认为是真的
they’re considered to be possibly real
大家都只认为可能是真的
They’re trying to find a hole in their theories
人们都试着在它们的理论中找到破绽
They immediately anthropomorphize this force
人们给这些力量赋予人性
So what they are, in the most literal sense
所以在很多文字表述上 它们看起来像是
are little creatures that are concocted by scientists
由科学家杜撰出来的小生物一样
When they’re confronted with something that they don’t really understand
但在人们面对某些他们不太能理解的事时
these creatures that we have always thought of
这些我们一直认为
as little entities that can bend or break the laws of nature
能改变或打破自然法则的小生物
continue to be very useful and very common ways
仍然是一种非常常见和有用的思维方式
to thinking in advancing our knowledge and understanding of the natural world
来帮助我们加深对自然世界的了解和理解
3 demons from the history of science
科学史上的3个恶魔
I’m Jimena Canales, I’m a historian of science
我是希梅纳·卡纳莱斯 一位科学史学家
I love science, I admire it tremendously
我爱科学 我也非常欣赏它
That’s why I started studying
这也是我学习科学史的原因
but there was this other aspect of it that I felt that we had to talk about
但这里也有我觉得不得不谈的另一面
It was scientists discussing demons
它就是科学家们讨论的“恶魔”
These demons share similar characteristics to those other demons in the past, like Beelzebub and Lucifer
这些“恶魔”和以往提及的恶魔 例如堕落天使和撒旦 有着相似的特征
they’re usually very fast or very big or very small
它们通常移动很快或体型很大或体型很小
They can break the laws of nature
它们能打破自然法则
They’re not necessarily evil
它们也未必是邪恶的
but they create power imbalances
但是它们会造成能量失衡
They can be helpful or they can be mischievous
它们可以是有益的 也可以是有害的
one of the strange things about it is that
奇怪的是
you read scientists in their scientific papers actually talking about these creatures
你会在科学论文中读到科学家们讨论这些“恶魔”们
and having other scientists name them after the famous scientist
并看到其他科学家以著名科学家的名字给它们命名
Descartes’ demon is very appropriate for us to start
笛卡尔的“恶魔”很适合我们展开讨论
because he’s the demon of virtual reality
因为这个恶魔是指虚拟现实的“恶魔”
He had the ability to install an alternate reality right in front of your senses
它有能力在你的感官之上架构另一层虚拟的现实
Therefore you could no longer tell if you were, you know, living in the matrix
如果你不能判断你面前的世界是否真实
if you couldn’t tell what the real world was in front of you
那么你也就无法知道自己是活在虚拟的还是真实的三维空间中了
This was a very scary thought for Descartes
对笛卡尔来说这是一个非常疯狂的想法
I think it is for everyone
我认为对所有人来说都很疯狂
It’s one of the themes that continue to be brought up in science fiction
这是科幻小说中不断出现的主题之一
It was also a fascinating thought
它也是一个令人着迷的想法
because we were all fascinated by spectacle
因为我们都会对奇特的现象着迷
and by creating these situations
通过创造这种状态
in which we can fool ourselves to think we have reality in front of us
我们就能欺骗自己眼前的世界就是现实
and its really just an alternative reality or virtual reality
但其实这只是替代现实或者虚拟现实
And that’s why Descartes trying to fend himself
这也是为什么笛卡尔试图去保护他自己
against the possibility that some demon had taken over his impressions
从而避免那些恶魔挟持了他的感官
he actually became one of the founders of modern logic
笛卡尔后来成为了现代哲学的奠基人之一
and in his famous text where he uttered the phrase, “I think, therefore I am.”
他最有名的名言就是那句“我思故我在”
He started to think about what were the few things that this demon couldn’t touch
他那个时候就开始思考有哪些东西是恶魔无法影响的
And he would say things like two plus three equals five
然后他会说一些比如二加三等于五
or a circle is a circumference drawn around a certain point
或者一个圆就是围绕某一个点画的圆周
or a triangle is made up of three lengths in three angles
或者一个三角形就是由三个不同角度的三条直线组成的
They’re very simple things, but those became the basis of modern science, of Logic
这些都是非常简单的道理 同时这些也奠定了现代哲学的基础
and they were inspired by the fear of this demon
这些也都是因为惧怕恶魔而受到的启发
Maxwell was a scientist of the second Industrial Revolution of the Victorian Empire
麦克斯韦是维多利亚时期第二次工业革命时的科学家
He didn’t name the demon Maxwell’s demon
他自己并没有命名麦克斯韦的“恶魔”
but he was the first to come up with the speculations about it
但他是第一个提出这个假说的人
And he was named the demon by William Thompson in the second half of the 19th century, I believe 1874
是威廉•汤姆森在19世纪下半叶 大概1874年 命名了这个“恶魔”
And it was very important for physics
这个“恶魔”假说对物理学而言非常重要
It still is, it’s at the foundation of how we understand the first and second laws of thermodynamics
它直到今日仍然是我们理解热力学第一和第二定律的基础
One of the things that happens with statistical laws is that statistical laws allow exceptions
统计学的一个特点是统计学允许例外
If you have a container or a soup and you throw ice on it
如果你有一个容器或者一碗汤 然后你把冰块丢进去
eventually it will reach temperature equilibrium
最终它会达到温度平衡
But if this laws is statistical and the consensus and the scientist says that it is
但如果这是统计学规律 并且科学家和大家都认为是的话
then there’s a chance that the opposite might happen
那么就有可能出现一个相反的结果
And the demon was invoked in order to make sense of the statistical nature of the laws of thermodynamics
此时就提出了“恶魔”假说 来解释统计学中的热力学定律
So he’s a tiny little being
假说中的“恶魔”是一个很小的东西
who is atomic size, and he can manipulate atoms
跟原子一样的大小 还能操控原子
And if he’s sitting in a container, he can push the fast atoms to one side
如果这个“恶魔”在一个容器中 它就会把移动速度快的原子推到一边
and let slow ones be on the other side
让移动速度慢的原子留在另一边
because we understand heat as having to do with the movement of particles
由于我们都明白热力与粒子的移动速度有关
that means that one part of a container can spontaneously heat up
这也就意味着容器一边的温度会自然升高
and another one can become cooler
而另一边则会相对温度较低
And if you have a difference in temperature
一旦有了温度差
then you can create a motor
那么你就可以造一个发动机
And with a motor, you can create further power imbalances
有了发动机 就能进一步创造能量失衡
Most of the electronic gadgets that are all around us use the science of Maxwell’s demon
我们周围大部分电子器件的设计都是基于麦克斯韦的“恶魔”
and scientists and laboratories all over the world
直到今日 全世界的科学家和实验室
are still trying to build better versions of Maxwell’s demon
仍然致力于改进麦克斯韦的“恶魔”假说
and they’re still researching him
仍然致力于研究他
So Darwin was speculating about a being
当时 达尔文正在推测有一种生物
again, he didn’t call it Darwin’s it was only named Darwin’s being later
同样地 这也不是达尔文命名的 是后期被命名的
Before he wrote the origins of a species, he had this idea
在他写物种起源之前 他还有这样一个想法
He said, “What would happen if there could be a being that can produce a new race?”
他说:“如果一种生物能产出一个新的物种 将会发生什么呢?”
Just like we are able to produce sheep with particular qualities for our sweaters
就好比我们能培育出毛衣所需要的羊毛品质的羊
but then Darwin took a leap
然后达尔文又有了思想上的飞跃
and he said, “What if somebody could do that to us?”
他说:“如果有另一个物种对人类做了这样的事情呢?”
This was one of the fascinating questions that drove his research
这也是推动他的研究的迷人问题之一
Could this actually happen?
这个真的会发生吗?
He ended up calling it natural selection
达尔文最终称之为自然选择
So natural selection in a sense became the substitute or the embodiment of this early idea
所以自然选择说在某种程度上是他早期思想的替代或者体现
Then it was called Darwin’s demon later on by biologists in the 1960s
在1960年代 这个思想被生物学家命名为达尔文的“恶魔”
I started more than a decade ago tracking the references to the word demon
我是从十年前开始追溯“恶魔”这个词的
And it is tremendous fun
这个真的很有趣
you know, seeing the history of science and the history of technology
当你看着科学史和科技史
in parallel with these great imaginary ideas
与这些富有想象力的思想同时并行
It gives us a sense of how malleable and how powerful
这会让我们觉得欲望和恐惧在推动社会前进时
our desires and our fears are for driving society forward
是具有多大的可塑造性和影响力
As a historian
作为一名史学家
I think it is really important that we think a little bit more carefully about non-existent things
我认为很重要的一点是 我们应当更加谨慎地思考一些肉眼不可见的东西
about things that are not yet here
还有那些暂时还没有到来的东西
I understand this is original and bizarre and strange
我知道这看起来是原始的 异乎寻常的和陌生的
to try to move our thinking about history and the past and the future based on non-existent things
因为我们试图基于一些不存在的东西推测历史 过去和未来
But if we don’t start thinking about them
但是如果我们现在不开始思考这些
the future development of our world and our technological universe is really gonna escape us
那么我们也就抓不住世界和科学界的未来发展趋势
So I want us to take a step back
所以在此我也希望大家能后退一步
and think about what we’re thinking about
反思一下我们的思想
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视频概述

科学史学家希梅纳·卡纳莱斯讲述了科学史上的三个“恶魔”假说:笛卡尔的“恶魔”、麦克斯韦的“恶魔”和达尔文的“恶魔”;以及这三个假说对科学发展的意义。

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翻译译者

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视频来源

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYrDlJjIUuo

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