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为什么生活中棉花无处不在?

Why is cotton in everything? - Michael R. Stiff

“棉花是一种自然力量”
Centuries ago, the Inca developed ingenuous suits of armor
几个世纪前 印加人发明了一种别出心裁的盔甲
that could flex with the blows of sharp spears and maces,
它能弹开锋利的长矛和狼牙棒
protecting warriors from even the fiercest physical attacks.
保护士兵免受猛烈的冲击
These hardy structures were made not from iron or steel,
这种坚韧的结构并不是用钢铁构成的
but rather something unexpectedly soft: cotton.
而是用一种出乎意料的柔软材料制成:棉花
These thickly woven, layered quilts of cotton
这些厚厚编排 层层叠叠的棉层
could distribute the energy from a blow across a large surface area,
可以将一击所产生的力分散到一个大的表面
shielding warriors without restricting their mobility.
在保护战士的同时 不限制他们的动作
These seemingly contradictory features—
这些看似矛盾的特点
strength and flexibility, softness and durability—
坚韧度 灵活性 柔软度和耐久性
have their roots in the intricate biology of the nearly invisible cotton fiber.
都得益于微不可见的棉花纤维的复杂生物学特性
These fibers begin life deep within a cotton flower,
这些纤维生长于棉花内部的
on the surface of a seed.
种子表皮之上
As many as 16,000 fibers will festoon a single seed,
一颗棉桃上可以长出多达一万六千根纤维
bulging from the seed’s surface like miniature water balloons.
它们像小水球一样在棉桃表面隆起
Each cotton fiber, no matter how large it grows,
每根棉花纤维 都只由一个细胞构成
is made of just one cell.
无论它长得多粗
That cell has multiple layers of cell wall.
这种细胞有好几层细胞壁
After a few days, the sides of the first layer,
几天后 表面第一层细胞壁
called the primary cell wall,
也就是初级细胞壁变硬
stiffen, pushing cell growth in one direction
促使细胞向着同一方向生长
and causing the fiber to elongate.
纤维因此变长
The fiber elongates quickly for about 16 days.
大约16天内 纤维迅速变长
Then it begins the next stage: strengthening the cell wall.
接着它开始进入下一阶段:巩固细胞壁
It does this by making more of the carbohydrate cellulose.
为此 它制造了更多碳水化合物纤维素
Cellulose will make up 34% of the cell wall at this stage
在此阶段 纤维素将组成34%的细胞壁
and swiftly increases.
并迅速增长
This new growth also reinforces the cell wall
通过挤压细胞壁
by going against the grain of the existing wall.
新的生长也使细胞壁更坚固
The strengthened wall is more rigid, restricting further growth.
加固后的细胞壁更为坚硬 限制了进一步生长
That means if the fiber remodels its walls too early,
这意味着如果纤维过早地重塑细胞壁
it will be short,
长度会变短
and ultimately make rough, weak fabrics.
最终制成的织物将会粗糙而脆弱
But if cell wall strengthening begins too late,
但如果细胞壁开始强化得太迟
the wall won’t be sturdy enough—
细胞壁就不够坚硬 导致纤维太弱
producing fibers that are too weak to hold fabrics together well.
不能很好地把织物粘在一起
In ideal growing conditions—
在理想的生长条件下
with the right temperature, water, fertilizer, pest control, and light—
——适当的温度 水分 光照 肥料 和害虫防治
a cotton fiber can grow up to 3.6 centimeters long
一根宽只有25微米的棉花纤维
with only a 25 micrometer width.
最长能长达3点6厘米
Long, fine fibers can wrap around one another
比起短而粗的纤维
better than shorter, less fine fibers,
长而细的纤维能更好地互相缠绕
which means those long, fine fibers make stronger threads
这就意味着那些长而细的纤维可以制成更结实的棉线
that hang together better as fabric.
像织物一样更好地粘合在一起
Cotton with these qualities has diverse uses—
不同质量的棉花有不同用途
from soft textiles to the U.S. dollar bill,
从质地柔软的材质到美钞
which is 75% cotton.
美钞含有75%棉花
The next crucial stage of the cotton fiber’s growth
棉纤维生长的下一个关键阶段
begins as it thickens its secondary cell wall
就是大量纤维素沉淀到次级层
by depositing large quantities of cellulose into the secondary layer.
开始增强它的细胞壁的时候
Cellulose goes on to make up over 90% of the fiber’s weight.
纤维素占纤维重量的90%
The more cellulose that gets deposited,
纤维素沉淀得越多
the denser that secondary layer becomes—
次级层细胞壁的密度就越大
and this determines the strength of the final fiber.
这决定了纤维的最终强度
This stage is essential for developing long-lasting material
这一阶段是保证材料耐久度的关键
for the likes of, say, a t-shirt.
比如说 一件T恤
The garment’s capacity to withstand years of washing and wear
衣服耐洗和耐磨损的能力
is largely determined by the density of that secondary cell wall.
很大程度上是由次级层细胞壁的密度决定的
On the other hand,
另一方面
its softness is strongly influenced by the length of the fiber,
纤维长度严重影响它的柔软度
established with the remodeling of the primary wall layer.
这是通过对原壁层的重塑而确定的
Finally, after about 50 days, the fiber is fully grown.
最后 经过大约50天 纤维长成
The living matter within the cell dies off,
细胞内的活性组织逐渐死亡
leaving behind only the cellulose.
只留下纤维素
The dried cotton seed pod, or boll, that surrounds the fibers cracks open,
包裹在纤维周围的干棉籽荚或棉铃裂开
unveiling a burst of several thousand fiber cells in a fluffy mass.
数千个毛茸茸的纤维细胞映入眼帘
The thread-like fibers we see— thinner than a human hair—
棉线——就像我们看到的纤维——比头发还细
are the remains of those dense, dried out walls of cellulose.
是那些密集而干燥的纤维素壁的残余物
Tens of thousands of these fibers spun into yarn
成千上万这种纤维纺成了纱线
will go on to make everything from fabric, to coffee filters, diapers,
做成布料 咖啡过滤器 尿布
and fishing nets.
还有渔网
And with the help of modern science,
在现代科学的帮助下
cotton might soon be softer, stronger, and more resilient than ever
研究人员通过营养学 气象学和基因学
as researchers investigate how to optimize its growth
等方面的研究 不久就可能
based on nutrients, weather conditions, and genetics.
让棉花长得比前更柔软 结实 更富有弹性

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视频概述

棉花为什么如此柔软?它由什么构成?为什么可以用来做衣服,甚至成为美钞的一部分?

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视频来源

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKLJ6KQAcjI

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