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A Sense of the Future
by Jacob Bronowski
One hundred years ago, if you had walked on a summer evening into the country just beyond Bromley in Kent,
you might have come on a remarkable sight.
In the greenhouse of one of the larger and uglier houses of the neighborhood,
a tall man in his sixties was stooping over potted plants.
Beside him sat a younger man just as absorbed;
and the younger man was playing the bassoon.
This earnest pair was Charles Darwin and his son Frank;
and they were making a scientific experiment.
Darwin wanted to know exactly what tells an insect-eating plant like the common sundew to close its leaves when a fly settles on it.
So he was going through the possible causes methodically one by one.
Noise was not a likely cause;but it might just have worked;
]and Darwin was not the man to rule out anything.
He had tried sand and water and bits of hard-boiled egg, and now he was trying Frank's bassoon.
Darwin never did get to the bottom of what makes the sundew close.
But he almost did, and the next generation finished his work.
He was well content with that.
Darwin at sixty was a famous scientist who had changed our whole understanding of nature;
yet he remained content to do tidy experiments that would bear fruit somewhere, sometime in the future.
未来意识
雅各布・布罗诺夫斯基
一百年前,如果你在某个夏夜走到离布罗姆利县不远的肯特郡乡村,
你也许会看到一个引人注目的情景。
在邻近地区有一些房屋比较大,也比较难看,其中一所有个暖房。
暖房里有位六十多岁的高个子老汉,弯着腰站在盆栽植物前面。
他旁边坐着一位神情同样专注、年纪比较轻些的男子;
他在吹巴松管。
这一对十分认真的人便是查尔斯・达尔文和他的儿子弗兰克;
他们在做一个科学实验。
达尔文想搞清楚,当苍蝇停到像普通的捕蝇草这类捕食昆虫的植物上时,究竟是什么促使这些植物立刻合拢上叶子的。
因此,他有条不紊地逐一检验可能的原因。
声音并不是一个可能性很大的原因,但也难说。
达尔文不是那种未加实验就排除某种可能性的人。
在此之前,他已经用沙、水和煮得很老的鸡蛋碎屑做过实验,现在正用弗兰克的巴松管再做一种实验。
达尔文最终未能弄清是什么使捕蝇草合拢叶子的,
但离弄明白真正原因也仅一步之遥,他未竟的工作由下一代人完成了。
对此他心满意足。
达尔文在花甲之年已是位著名科学家,改变了我们对大自然的整个认识,
但他依然甘愿有条有理地从事在将来某个时候某个地方才有结果的实验。
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