本书评来自比尔盖茨:You’ll Never Look at a Pencil, Teacup, or Razor Blade the Same Way

的的咔咔湖
2015-11-16 看过
摘自The blog of Bill Gates 比尔·盖茨/文 未读·吴勐/翻译
原文链接:http://www.gatesnotes.com/Books/Stuff-Matters

You’ll Never Look at a Pencil, Teacup, or Razor Blade the Same Way

People have all kinds of obsessions—silly, serious, and everything in between. The sheer diversity of these fascinations, from playing bridge (my personal obsession) to scanning the skies for new planets, is one of the most beautiful things about humanity. And yet one person’s obsession doesn’t necessarily make for interesting reading for those of us who have never been bitten by that same bug.
人们有各种各样的执念——或犯傻或认真。从痴迷桥牌(比如我),到仰望天空寻找未知星球,各种各样的喜好正是人性中最美的事物之一。然而,并不是每个人的爱好都能成为供普通人阅读的好书。

Mark Miodownik’s personal and professional obsession, as he explains in his book Stuff Matters, is basic materials we often take for granted such as paper, glass, concrete, and steel—as well as new super-materials that will change our world in the decades ahead. I’m pleased to report that he is a witty, smart writer who has a great talent for imparting his love of this subject. As a result, Stuff Matters is a fun, accessible read.
《迷人的材料》中讲到,马克·米奥多尼克(Mark Miodownik)的个人喜好和职业追求,既包括诸如纸、玻璃、水泥、钢材这样的日常材料,也包括促使世界发展的超级新兴材料。我很高兴看到他这样诙谐、聪明的作者,写出了这本妙趣横生、深入浅出的书。

My favorite writer, the historian Vaclav Smil, also wrote a wonderful book on materials, but it’s completely different from Miodownik’s. Smil is a facts-and-numbers guy; he doesn’t bring any romance to his topic. Miodownik is the polar opposite. He’s heavy on romance and very light on numbers.
我最喜欢的作家、历史学家瓦克拉夫·斯米尔(Vaclav Smil)也写过一本关于材料的好书。但和米奥多尼克的书比起来相去甚远。斯米尔是个考据派,从不会把一点浪漫主义带进书里。米奥多尼克恰恰相反——比起数字,浪漫轻松的语言才是他的最爱。


Miodownik, an Oxford-trained materials scientist who has worked in some of the most advanced labs in the world, discovered his obsession with materials in a bizarre way. When he was in high school in the 1980s, he was the victim of a random attack on a London Tube train. In his telling, instead of freaking out about the five-inch slash wound in his back, he fixated on the elegance of the attacker’s steel razor blade. “This tiny piece of steel, not much bigger than a postage stamp, had cut through five layers of my clothes, and then through the epidermis and dermis of my skin in one slash without any problem at all,” he writes. “It was the birth of my obsession with materials.”
米奥多尼克,一个毕业于牛津、供职于世界顶尖实验室的材料科学家,却和材料科学有着纠结的邂逅。20世纪80年代,高中生米奥多尼克在伦敦地铁站赶上了抢劫。据他自己所说,当时他盯着劫匪闪亮的刀刃,竟然忘了自己背上5寸伤口的疼痛。“就这一小片钢,甚至还没有邮票大,竟然毫不费力地划破了5层衣服,然后刺穿了我的表皮层、真皮层。”他在书中如是写道,“从这一刻起我迷上了材料科学。”

Most of us have the luxury of not thinking much about steel—and not being attacked with a razor. But as Miodownik makes clear, steel is pretty magical. Its greatest virtue is that it doesn’t crack or break under tension, unlike iron, from which it is forged. Steel has been made by skilled blacksmiths dating back to ancient Roman times, but once inventors created a process for producing steel cheaply at industrial scale in the mid 19th century, it became central to our lives—from our utensils to our transport to our built environment.
Our next century is likely to produce even bigger material innovations. I live close to the longest floating bridge in the world, which, like so many big modern structures, is made from steel-reinforced concrete. That bridge has served Seattle well for more than a half century, but now it’s near the end of its lifespan. (From my yard I can see the construction crews working on the bridge that will replace it.) According to Miodownik, future bridges may be built with a “self-healing concrete” that could save billions of dollars in repair and replacement costs.
普通人大都不会花太多心思思考钢这种东西,反正也不会被抢劫。但据米奥多尼克说,钢可是魅力无限。铁是钢的铸造原料,但钢和铁比最大的优势,是在于压力之下钢更坚韧——它不易产生裂纹,也更难折断。从罗马时代起,铁匠们就开始铸钢了。到了19世纪中叶,科学家们发明了更加廉价的工业铸钢法,钢材就成了人们生活的中心,从生活用具到交通工具、城市建筑,钢的身影无所不在。

下一个世纪,人们在材料科学上可能会有更大的革新。我就住在世界最长的浮桥(Evergreen Point Floating Bridge)旁边,这座浮桥也和许多其他现代建筑一样,由钢筋混凝土浇筑而成。它已经为西雅图服务50多年了,如今到了它寿命的尽头。我站在院子里,能看到工人们开工搭起新桥。米奥多尼克告诉我们,未来的桥梁很可能会用“自愈水泥”铸造,一下子能省下数十亿美元的修缮、替换费用。

Self-healing concrete is a great study in material innovation. In highly sulfurous volcanic lakes that would burn human skin, scientists found incredibly resilient bacteria that can stay dormant in rock for decades. You embed these bacteria in concrete with starch for them to consume; when the concrete cracks and water starts seeping in, the bacteria revive, find the starch, begin to replicate, and excrete minerals that seal up the crack.
自愈水泥是材料科学的一项伟大的研究。在火山湖中,硫的含量高到会烧灼人的皮肤。科学家却从中找到了一种具有高度适应性的细菌,它们能在岩石中休眠长达数十年。假如把这种细菌注入钢材,再加上供其生长的淀粉养料,当未来钢材出现裂纹,水流入其中时,细菌就会被激活,找到淀粉,开始成长、分裂,分泌出矿物质,堵住裂缝。

I particularly liked Miodownik’s informative chapter on carbon (“Unbreakable”), which offers insights into one atom’s massive past, present, and future role in human life. Diamonds, one of the many material manifestations of carbon, have played a starring role in love and war for millennia. Coal powered our transition into the industrial age and is having significant impact on the chemistry of our atmosphere. Carbon fiber composites, sheets of graphite fibers encased in epoxy glues, are now transforming major industries from sports to aerospace to automobiles. I recently was briefed on carbon fiber city buses purchased by the city of Seattle, which are much lighter, stronger, cleaner, and safer than traditional steel buses and will save the city a lot of money on fuel.
我个人非常喜欢书中关于碳的那一章。关于这种原子过去、现在和未来在人类生活中扮演的角色,米奥多尼克提出了自己丰富的见解。碳的众多存在形式之一——钻石,几千年来都是爱情和战争的象征。煤炭给工业和运输注入能量,也深刻影响着大气的化学组成。由石墨纤维和环氧树脂胶组成的碳纤维材料,如今正在逐渐改变着体育、航天、汽车工业的现状。我最近听说西雅图购进了碳纤维城市公交车。和传统的钢造公交车比起来,这种公交车更轻便、更清洁,动力却更强,也更安全,还能为市政省下一大笔汽油费用。

Then there are far more exotic forms of carbon—like graphene, a layer of graphite one atom thick, and carbon nanotubes, graphene’s rolled-up form. Graphene is the thinnest and stiffest material known to humankind—200 times stronger than steel and yet lighter than paper. It is also the best conductor ever invented. As a result, it may someday replace the silicon chip and help usher in a new era in computing and communications. Yes, stuff matters!
碳的存在形式还有很多,比如石墨烯——由石墨原子拼接组成的一层;碳纳米管——由石墨烯卷曲而成。石墨烯是人类所知的最薄,却最坚韧的材料——比纸还轻,却比钢坚韧200倍。它还是史上最好的人造导体。也许有一天,石墨烯会取代硅质芯片,为计算机科学和通讯科技开启新纪元。是的,材料是如此重要!

In political contests, voters sometimes put more weight on whether they’d like to have a beer with a candidate than on the candidate’s qualifications. Miodownik would pass anyone’s beer test, and he has serious qualifications. I’ll be interested to see what he writes next.
用“政治术语”讲,有时候,比起候选人真正的资质,选民们其实更看重自己愿不愿意和候选人一起喝上一顿酒。米奥多尼克能征服所有“选民”,而且他的专业资质和水平都非常棒。我非常期待他未来的作品。
30 有用
0 没用

查看更多豆瓣高分好书

评论 4条

添加回应

迷人的材料的更多书评

推荐迷人的材料的豆列

了解更多图书信息

豆瓣
免费下载 iOS / Android 版客户端