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为什么所有的沙子都一样? – 译学馆
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为什么所有的沙子都一样?

Why is All Sand the Same?

沙子,无论你是用来造沙子城堡、做沙漏计时,或是
Sand, whether you use it for building sand castles, telling time with an hourglass, or
水压致裂,几乎是完全相同的,无论你去哪里——不可数
hydraulic fracturing, is pretty much the same just about anywhere you go — an uncountable
的微小颗粒混合在一起,形成了沙丘和海滩
number of tiny grains mixed together to form the same dunes and beaches.
但是为什么沙子看起来总是一样呢?并且这么多是怎么在海滩上消失的?
But why does sand almost always look the same? And how does so much of it end up at the beach?
好吧,世界上大多数沙子是由相同的材料——微小的晶体矿物
Well, much of the world’s sand is made out of the same stuff– tiny crystals of the mineral
石英,由两种地壳中最常见的元素——氧和硅组成
quartz, which is made out of silicon and oxygen, the two most common elements in Earth’s crust.
并且你会知道,如果你咬过有沙子的三明治的面包皮
And as you’ll know if you’ve ever bitten through the crust — of a sandwich — that had sand
石英颗粒非常小,并且非常坚硬。原因是
in it — quartz grains are small, and really tough. Here’s why:
石英结晶由一滴沸腾的花岗岩或岩浆冷却而成
Quartz crystals form within a cooling blob of molten granite rock, or magma, deep under
远低于地球表面 当岩浆冷却后 不同温度下
Earth’s surface. As the magma cools, different minerals crystallize into solid rock at different
有不同的矿物在固体岩石中结晶 石英只是最后几种形成的矿物之一
temperatures, and quartz is one of the last minerals to form. It’s forced to crystallize
强制在狭小的空间中冷却造就了现在的凝结岩
in the tiny spaces left in the now cooling rock, pretty much ensuring that it ends up
准确保证了其在一个特定的尺寸范围。
in a specific size range.
但是最后也有最后的优点 在更早更热的条件下形成的矿物
But being last has lasting advantages. Minerals that do form in the earlier, hotter conditions
化学结构更弱 比石英更容易被侵蚀 有点像
have weaker chemical structures and weather away more easily than quartz, kind of like
在激情中锻造而出的关系可能不如时间造就的关系坚固
how a relationship forged in the heat of passion might not be as stable as a deep bond developed
所以脆弱的、昙花一现的矿石磨损了
over time. So as the weak, flash-in-the-pan minerals wear away, the unfaltering quartz
而坚固的石英颗粒留了下来从岩石中凸出成为沙粒
grains are left to pop out of the rock as sand!
之后就都是时间的事了——有时候可能是很长时间
And then it’s only a matter of time–sometimes a very long time– before the quartz sand
石英沙粒被小溪、河流冲走流进海中那里 在河流的入海口
gets whisked away by streams and rivers and carried to the sea. There, at the mouth of
湍流骤然变慢 已经足够圆的沙粒留了下来
a river, the fast-flowing water slows abruptly, and the well-rounded sand drops out. Larger
大石块和卵石已经留在上流 而小颗粒像淤泥
rocks and pebbles were already left behind upstream, while smaller sediments like silt
和土继续被变慢的水流冲刷
and clay continue to be swept along by the weakened current and are deposited further
在远离岸边的地方沉积
from shore.
成千上万年间 河道几度变迁
Over thousands and thousands of years, the paths of rivers sweep up and down the coast,
留下的沙堆被海浪和水流铺展为平滑的沙滩
dropping off piles of sand to be spread by waves and currents into smooth sandy beaches.
当然不是所有的海滩都是沙滩而且不是所有的沙子都在沙滩上
Of course, not all beaches are purely quartz sand, and not all quartz sand ends up on beaches
——可这么多的沙滩和这么多的沙子都是相同的
– but the fact that so many beaches and so many sands are the same is a testament to
这是地壳最基本组成部分冷却和结晶的化学过程的证明
the chemistry of the most common components of earth’s crust as they cool and crystallize,
也是颗粒缓慢改变和向海洋蜂拥的物理过程的证明
and to the physics of sediments slowly shifting and surging towards the sea. They are, quite
他们,真正是时间之沙。
literally, the real sands of time.

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