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下一个科学界大突破是什么? – 译学馆
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下一个科学界大突破是什么?

What will be the next big scientific breakthrough? | Eric Haseltine

今天晚上 我想与大家分享我对科学的热爱
Tonight, I’m going to share with you my passion for science.
我不是想说进展缓慢的那些
I’m not talking about science that takes baby steps.
而是能带来重大飞跃的
I’m talking about science that takes enormous leaps.
是达尔文、爱因斯坦那一类
I’m talking Darwin, I’m talking Einstein,
能带来翻天覆地变化的、革命性的科学
I’m talking revolutionary science that turns the world on its head.
接着 我会提及两个可能做到如此的想法
In a moment, I’m going to talk about two ideas that might do this.
我说“可能”
I say “might”
因为 革命性的想法里 大多是完全错误的
because, with revolutionary ideas, most are flat wrong,
就算它们是正确的
and even those that are right seldom have the impact
也少有能达到目的
that we want them to have.
至于为何特意选择两个想法
To explain why I picked two ideas in particular,
我想从一个神秘的故事讲起
I’m going to start with a mystery.
1847年 奥地利的维也纳
1847, Vienna, Austria.
伊格纳兹·塞麦尔维斯 一个沉着、缜密的医生
Ignaz Semmelweis was a somber, compulsively thorough doctor
他经营着两家妇产诊所
who ran two maternity clinics.
这两家除了一点以外完全相同
They were identical except for one thing.
其中一家的女性分娩后
Women were dying of high fevers soon after giving birth
高烧死亡的病例比另一家高三倍
three times more often at one of the clinics than at the other.
为了弄清这背后的原因
Trying to figure out what the difference was that caused this,
他仔细排查了 所有可能的情况
Semmelweis looked at everything he could.
卫生条件太差?不是
Sanitation? No.
诊疗过程有问题?不是
Medical procedures? No.
空气流通不好?不是
Air flow? No.
他对此毫无头绪 直到偶然解剖了
The puzzle went unsolved until he happened to autopsy a doctor
一名死于手术感染的医生
who died of an infected scalpel cut.
医生症状与去世的母亲们完全相同
The doctor’s symptoms were identical to those of the mothers who were dying.
这怎么可能?
How was that possible?
一名男医生怎么会与刚分娩的女性得一样的病症?
How could a male doctor get the same thing as new mothers?
塞麦尔维斯重现了这名医生
Semmelweis reconstructed everything the doctor had done
感染前做过的每一件事
right before he got sick,
他发现 这名医生之前一直在解剖尸体
and he discovered that he’d been autopsying a corpse.
是不是有什么进入了他的伤口 导致他的死亡?
Had something gotten in his wound that killed him?
怀着不断增强的好奇心
With growing excitement,
塞麦尔维斯在停尸间的尸体
Semmelweis looked for any connection he could
和产房里死去的母亲之间 不断找寻可能的联系
between dead bodies in the morgue and dead mothers in his delivery room,
就这样 他找到了答案
and he found it.
结果证明 是死亡率高的那家医院
It turned out that at the hospital with the high death rate,
而不是另一家
but not the others,
医生们解剖完尸体后 紧接着就去接生婴儿
doctors delivered babies immediately after autopsying corpses in the morgue.
啊哈!原来是尸体污染了医生的手
Aha! Corpses were contaminating the doctors’ hands
并杀死了那些母亲
and killing his mothers.
所以他要求医生们给手消毒
So he ordered the doctors to sterilize their hands,
然后这类的死亡症就停止了
and the deaths stopped.
伊格纳兹·塞麦尔维斯医生发现了传染病
Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis had discovered infectious disease.
但当时的医生都认为他疯了
But the doctors of the day thought he was crazy,
因为人们几百年来一直都认为
because they knew, and had for hundreds of years,
会致病的是一种名为瘴气的有味气体
that odorous vapors called miasmas caused disease,
而不是那些看不到的假想粒子
not these hypothetical particles that you couldn’t see.
法国人路易·巴斯德用了整整20年
It took 20 years for Frenchman Louis Pasteur
才证明塞麦尔维斯是正确的
to prove that Semmelweis was right.
巴斯德是一名农业化学家
Pasteur was an agricultural chemist
他曾试图解释为何牛奶和啤酒会变质
who tried to figure out why milk and beer spoiled so often.
他发现细菌是幕后真凶
He found that bacteria were the culprits.
而且细菌会使人像塞麦尔维斯的病人
He also found that bacteria could kill people in exactly the same way
一样的方式死去
that Semmelweis’s patients were dying.
我们现在讨论的两个想法 就是我今天想说的
We now look at what I want to talk about tonight, in two ideas.
我们共同见证了 塞麦尔维斯的革命性发现
We saw it with Semmelweis, that he was a revolutionary.
这么说有两点原理由:
He did it for two reasons.
其一 他为我们打开了新世界的大门
One, he opened our eyes to a completely new world.
我们自17世纪80年代 就知道细菌的存在
We’d known since the 1680s about bacteria.
但是我们不知道细菌还会致命
We just didn’t know that bacteria killed people.
他还推翻了人们根深蒂固的传统观念
And he also demolished fond ideas that people kept close to their heart.
瘴气并不会致命 致命的实际上是细菌
Miasmas didn’t kill people. Bacteria killed people.
这将我们带回了 我今晚想要讲到的两个观点
So this brings me to the two ideas I want to talk about tonight.
一个能够拓宽我们的视野
One has opened our eyes to a completely new universe,
另一个会颠覆长久以来的观念
and the other attacks long-held beliefs.
现在我们来讲一下 埃里克·白兹格博士
Let’s get started with Dr. Eric Betzig.
这个物理学家通过违背物理法则
He’s a physicist who has opened our eyes to an entirely new world
使我们见识到了一个新的世界
by violating the laws of physics.
他是一个彻头彻尾的叛逆者
Betzig is a true rebel.
他从著名的贝尔实验室辞职
He quit a job at prestigious Bell Laboratory
当时他们正在发明新型生物显微镜
inventing new microscopes for biology
因为他觉得科学家们正在拿他绝佳的想法
because he thought scientists were taking his brilliant inventions
去做差劲的工作
and doing lousy work with them.
所以他变成了一个家庭煮夫
So he became a househusband,
但是他从来没有失去过
but he never lost his passion for figuring out
想让显微镜提供更清晰图像的热情
how to get microscopes to see finer and finer details
他想让显微镜的分辨率 达到前所未有的高度
than had ever been seen before or ever could be seen.
这非常重要 如果我们想要了解细胞如何工作
This is crucial if we’re ever going to understand how cells work,
癌症是如何发生的
and how cancer works,
还有那些只有针尖150分之1大小的东西
and how something 150th the size of a head of a pin
是怎样做到这些惊人的事情
can do all these amazing things,
比如说制造蛋白
like make proteins
还有运输带电粒子
and move charges around
等等这之类的
and all of those things.
但是这里有一个问题
There’s just one problem.
有一个名为物理法则的东西
There’s this thing called the law of physics,
其中一部分名为衍射极限的
and part of the law of physics is the thing called the diffraction limit.
它差不多是说 当你去诊所查视力的时候
The diffraction limit is kind of like when you go to a doctor’s office,
不管你有多么好的眼镜 都只能看见最低的那一行
you can only see so far down, no matter how good glasses you have.
这是一个所谓的“不可能问题”
This was a so-called impossible problem.
但是白兹格的一个好朋友想到了
But one of Betzig’s friends figured out how to take a tiny molecule
怎样让一个最好的显微镜 也看不到的小分子
that was smaller than the best microscope could see
生亮发光
and get it to light up and fluoresce.
“啊哈!”白兹格说:
“Aha!” Betzig said.
“我觉得物理法则也不是那么坚不可摧”
“I think maybe the laws of physics are not so unbreakable after all.”
就这样他在朋友的客厅里 组建起一台显微镜
So he lashed together a microscope in his friend’s living room.
他没有自己的实验室
He had no laboratory.
这件杰出的发明使得蛋白分子
This revolutionary instrument got different protein molecules
发出不同颜色的光
to light up in different colors,
通过计算机 他就能够将非常模糊的色块
and with a computer, he was able to turn very, very fuzzy blurs
转换成清晰的光点 实现前所未有、惊人的清晰度
into very sharp dots and produce images of unprecedented and startling clarity.
去年 埃里克·白兹格
For this work, last year,
因为这项成果获得了诺贝尔奖
Eric Betzig won the Nobel Prize.
为什么呢?
Why?
因为我们现在可以以前所未有的清晰度
Because now we can see with unprecedented detail
看到从来没有看到过的东西
things that we never had seen before,
现在医生们可以更好的 控制癌症之类的疾病
and now doctors can get a better handle on things like cancer.
但是你以为白兹格会就此满足吗?
But do you think Betzig was satisfied there?
大错特错
No.
他想要得到动态的图像
He wanted movies.
问题在于
The problem was
即便是他发明的显微镜 也仍然显得太慢了
that even the genius microscopes that he invented were just too slow.
那他做了什么呢?
So what did he do?
他想到了一个两百年前提出的主意:
He came up with a 200-year-old idea
叫“莫尔条纹”
called moiré patterns.
这想法的原理是 如果你让两组精细图案
So the way that works is if you take two very, very fine patterns
慢慢重合
and you move them across each other,
就可以看到
you will see a gross pattern
原本只有显微镜才看得到的
that a microscope can see
杂乱的图形
that otherwise you would not be able to see.
他将这项技术用于拍摄模糊的细胞图像
So he applied this technique to taking a really blurry image of a cell
然后在上面移动很多光线组合
and moving lots of structured light patterns across it
直到细胞图像变得十分清晰
until this cell became crystal clear.
结果是这样的:
And here is the result:
我们能够看到一个奇妙的新世界
a mysterious new world,
其中满是动来动去的奇怪东西
full of strange things zipping around
做着我们不甚了解的事情
doing things that we don’t know what they’re doing.
可一旦弄明白 我们就能更好地理解生命
But when we figure it out, we’ll have a better handle on life itself.
比如说 你看到的那些绿色的东西
For example, those green globs that you see?
它们是网格蛋白
Those things are called clathrins.
这种粒子的职责是
They’re molecules that protect other molecules
保护其他在细胞间穿梭的粒子
as they move through a cell.
但是细菌有时候会操纵它们去感染细胞
Unfortunately, viruses sometimes hijack those to infect cells.
还有 看到那些弯曲的、虫子似的小东西移动了?
Also, you see those little squiggly wormlike things moving around?
它们是肌动蛋白
Those are actin molecules.
病毒同样也可以附着在它们上面
Unfortunately, viruses also climb down those things
进入细胞核并开始复制
to get into the cell nucleus
使你感染疾病
to replicate themselves and make you sick.
现在我们可以通过动态图像
Now that we can look at movies
看到细胞深处到底发生了什么
of what’s actually going on deep inside a cell,
让我们能更好地治愈病毒性疾病 比如说艾滋病
we have a much better chance of curing viral diseases like AIDS.
所以当你看到这样的小视频的时候
So when you look at a movie like this,
白兹格确实为我们打开了新世界的大门
it’s very clear that Betzig has opened our eyes to a completely new world.
但是他并没有打破任何固有的观念
But he hasn’t shattered any cherished beliefs.
讲到这里 就要提一下剑桥大学的
That leads us to Dr. Aubrey de Grey
奥布里·德·格雷博士
at Cambridge.
他有一个让科学家们都跃跃欲试的有趣想法
De Grey definitely has scientists squirming with an interesting idea:
我们是能够永生的
we can be immortal.
我们可以停止老龄化
We can beat aging.
现在大多数科学家认为他是一个怪人
Now, most scientists think he’s a crackpot.
就连刚开始学习生物学的 学生都知道
Any Biology 101 student knows
衰老是生命不可避免的结局
that aging is an inevitable consequence of living.
比如说 当我们在进食的时候
For example, when we eat,
我们摄入食物并且开始代谢
we take in food and we metabolize it,
在这个过程中会释放 我们称作“自由基“的东西
and that throws off what we call free radicals.
你可能听说过
You might have heard of those.
也叫氧离子
Also known as oxygen ions,
它们会与我们的DNA结合 并造成变异
those bind to our DNA, cause it to mutate,
这就是为什么我们会衰老并掉头发
and cause us to get old and lose our hair.
[笑声]
[Laughter]
这有点像 不 应该说这和氧与铁结合
It’s just like, no, it’s exactly like
使其生锈是完全相同的道理
oxygen binding to iron and making it rust.
所以说你会衰老是因为你生锈了
So you age because you rust out.
[笑声]
[Laughter]
科学家们同时也知道有东西是不朽的
Oh, and scientists also know there is something called immortality:
它们存在于癌细胞中
in cancer cells.
所以如果你停止衰老
So if you stop aging,
等于说你就变成了一个 行走的巨大恶性肿瘤
all of you are going to turn into giant walking malignant tumors.
这些都是盛行多年的观点 但德·格雷是不是对此有什么洞见?
These are cherished beliefs, but could de Grey be on to something?
我觉得人们应该试着去了解他
I think he deserves a closer look.
首先 我并不认为他是一个怪人
First of all, I have a really hard time seeing him as a crackpot.
没错 他最初是一名计算机科学家
Yeah, he started off life as a computer scientist,
而不是生物学家
not a biologist,
但他得到了剑桥大学生物学博士学位
but he earned a PhD in biology from Cambridge,
他还就线粒体DNA和一些其他领域的研究
and he has published some very significant work
发表了不少重要成果
on mitochondrial DNA and a bunch of other stuff.
除此之外 他还创建了一个抗衰老基金会
Secondly, he started an antiaging foundation
并发现了七种造成衰老的原因
that has identified seven different causes of aging,
对我来说 那些原因都是十分合理的
to me, that seem very plausible,
同时他致力于想出 对每种原因的解决对策
and he is hot in pursuit of fixes for every single one of them.
比如说 其中之一是 我们的线粒体DNA会变异
For example, one of the reasons we age is that our mitochondrial DNA mutates,
由此使细胞失去能量 让人衰老
and we get kind of old and our cells lose energy.
他相信 并且提出了很令人信服的观点
He believes, and he’s made a convincing case,
那就是使用病毒来进行基因疗法
that using viruses we can do gene therapy,
修复DNA
fix that DNA
使我们的细胞重新充满活力
and rejuvenate our cells.
另外
One more thing.
有证据证明
We have an existent proof
特别长的寿命是有可能的
that extreme longevity is possible.
狐尾松树能存活5000年
Bristlecone pine trees live 5,000 years,
有一些龙虾根本就不会衰老
and some lobsters don’t age at all.
当然 这并不意味着德·格雷就能改变我们的寿命
Now, this doesn’t mean that de Grey is going to revolutionize our lifespans.
毕竟我们不是树 我们中的大多数也不是龙虾
I mean, after all, we’re not trees, and most of us are not lobsters.
[笑声]
[Laughter]
但我相信 世界上还是有达尔文和爱因斯坦的
But I’ve got to believe that there are Darwins and Einsteins out there,
让我来告诉你们为什么
and I’ll tell you why.
试想一下:
Consider this:
现在的人口数量是达尔文时期的七倍
there are seven times more people alive today than during Darwin’s time.
是爱因斯坦时期的四倍
There are four times as many people alive today as Einstein.
当你考虑到
When you consider
现在科学家占全体人口的比重在激增
that the proportion of scientists in the population has skyrocketed,
现在有七百万科学家
there are now seven million scientists.
我不得不相信 并且我也的确相信 他们中间有一个
I’ve got to believe, and I do believe, that there’s one of them out there
正默默无闻地钻研怎样延长
who is working right now in obscurity
我们的寿命 我不知道你们怎么想
to rock our lives, and I don’t know about you,
我可对此迫不及待
but I can’t wait to be rocked.
谢谢
Thank you.
[掌声]
[Applause]

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视频概述

纵观历史,追寻那些带来革命性突破的科学进展——它们让我们看到了一个全新的世界。“我并不是在谈论那些进展缓慢的科学,”埃里克·哈世廷说,“我说的是能带来巨大飞跃的科学。“在这次演讲中,他热切带领我们探索了追寻智慧前沿的两个观点——创造历史,以及雄心勃勃(还有对其他人的合理怀疑)。

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翻译译者

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视频来源

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1MRJrm9Gts

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