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Books and Artts; Book review;How the internet works;文艺;书评;互联网如何运作;Mapping the tubes;绘制网路全景;Contrary to expectations, the internet has a heart of cable and steel和预期不一样,互联网有一颗由电缆和钢铁组成的“心脏”Tubes: A Journey to the Centre of the Internet. By Andrew Blum.《网路:通往互联网中心的旅程》,作者安德鲁·布朗姆。 “Goverments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind.” So begins John Perry Barlow, once a lyricist for the Grateful Dead and now a cyber-libertarian, in a tract he penned in 1996, entitled, “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace”. It is a poetic summation of the common image of the internet as an ethereal, non-physical thing—an immanent Cloud that is at once everywhere and for ever on the far side of a screen.此书开篇引用了约翰·佩里·巴洛于1996年写的一篇文章中的一段话:“工业世界的统治者们,你们是由实体和钢铁组成的乏味巨物,而我来自思想的新家园——网络空间。”他曾是死之华乐队的作词人,而今则是一位网络自由主义者。他还称此书为“网络空间的独立宣言”。这是对互联网的普遍印象饱含诗意的总结:飘逸、虚无的东西——如一朵浮云,可以即刻无处不在,而又永远在电脑屏幕遥远的另一端。For Andrew Blum, a writer for Wired, that illusion was shattered on the day a squirrel chewed through the wire connecting his house to the internet. That rude reminder of the nets physicality sparked an interest in the infrastructure that makes the internet possible—the globe-spanning tangle of wires, cables, routers and data centres that most users take entirely for granted. His book is an engaging reminder that, cyber-Utopianism aside, the internet is as much a thing of flesh and steel as any industrial-age lumber mill or factory.对于《连线》杂志撰稿人安德鲁·布朗姆而言,在一只松鼠咬断他的网线的那天,这种幻想已被打破。这个对网络实体“无礼”的提醒激起了他对互联网基础设施的兴趣,因为这些满世界绕在一起的电线、电缆、路由器和数据中心使得互联网成为可能,而大多数用户认为这些完全是理所当然。他的书是一个引人入胜的提醒:抛开网络乌托邦主义不谈,互联网和任何工业时代的伐木场或工厂一样,都是由实体和钢铁组成的。It is also an excellent introduction to the nuts and bolts of how exactly it all works. The term “internet” is a collective noun for thousands of smaller networks, run by corporations, governments, universities and private business, all stitched together to form one (mostly) seamless, global, “internetworked” whole. In theory, the internet is meant to be widely distributed and heavily resilient, with many possible routes between any two destinations. In practice, a combination of economics and geography means that much of its infrastructure is concentrated in a comparatively small number of places.该书也是对互联网所有基本要素如何运作的一次精介绍。术语“互联网”是一个集合名词,包括数以千计由公司、政府、大学和私营企业运作的子网络,所有这些交织在一起形成一个(基本上)无缝对接、全球互联运作的网络整体。理论上说,互联网应该是分布广、承载量大、包含任意两点之间许多可能的路径。实际上,说它是经济学和地理学的结合,其意为它将众多的基础设施集中于相对少数的空间内。So when Mr Blum travels to the tiny Cornish village of Porthcurno, he is able to see the landing stations for many of the great transatlantic fibre-optic cables that carry traffic—in the form of beams of pulsating laser light—between Europe and the Americas. A couple of hundred miles up the road is the London Internet Exchange, a building in which individual networks can connect to each other and to the wider internet. Londons exchange is the worlds third-busiest, behind the ones in Frankfurt and Amsterdam. What happens in such places can affect millions of people: one veteran network engineer in an American exchange recalls “shut[ting] off Australia” when one of that countrys big networks was tardy with its bills.所以当布朗姆先生来到波斯科诺的小村康沃尔时,他看到了基站——站内许多横跨大西洋的粗大光纤电缆内部迅速地闪动着一道道激光,并以这种形式在欧洲和美洲之间传递信息。沿着道路方向的几百英里外就是伦敦网络交换中心,通过它,单个的局域网可以相互连通,也可以连接到广域的互联网;论繁忙程度,它只排在法兰克福和阿姆斯特丹之后。这里的所发生的一切可以影响上百万人:一位曾在美国交换中心工作资深的网络工程师回忆到,在澳大利亚的巨大局域网中,曾有某个局域网拖欠费用,该中心就发出了 “切断澳大利亚的网路”的指令。Network engineering is not a glamorous profession, and the physical structures of the greatest network ever built lack the grandeur of a hydroelectric dam or a continent-spanning railway. But they do have their own style: featureless, virtually deserted buildings, full of marching rows of high-tech servers and routers fed by thick bundles of cable, their cooling fans forming a roaring chorus in the chilly gloom. That style is modulated by the local culture of wherever the building happens to be. Thus one American firm goes for a super high-tech, “cyberrific” look in an attempt to impress clients. Frankfurts internet exchange is a model of cool rationality, whereas Londons is grotty and coming apart at the seams.网络工程并非一个光鲜的行业,而且最为庞大网络的实物构造缺乏水电大坝的宏伟壮观,也没有洲际铁路的绵延大气。但它确实有自己的特点:普普通通、几乎废弃的大楼里,整齐地排满了富含高科技的务器和路由器,由厚厚的几捆电缆连接起来,它们的散热风扇在冷清昏暗中组成了一正在高歌的合唱队。无论大楼在哪,这种特点都会受到本地文化的影响。因此,一个追求超高科技风格的美国公司,打造“网络交通”的外观是给客户留下深刻印象的一种尝试途径。法兰克福网络交换中心就是良好理性的一个模板,而伦敦的则是脏乱带着些破裂。And then there are the engineers themselves, a rootless but engaging brotherhood that travels the world from rack to rack, helping to keep the electronic show on the road, and whose interactions and dealmaking does a lot to shape the geography of the electronic spiders web that now engulfs the planet.还有工程师他们自身是一个较为松散但相处融洽的组织,马不停蹄地在世界各地旅行,奔波于电子产品展览会,他们的交际和生意圈如一张电子蜘蛛网正在包围整个世界。Mr Blums book is an excellent guide for anyone interested in how the global modern electronic infrastructure works. And it is a timely antidote to oft-repeated abstractions about “cyberspace” or “cloud computing”. Such terms gloss over the fact that, just like the pipes that carry water, the tubes that carry bits are reliant on old-fashioned, low-tech spadework, human contact and the geographical reality in which all that exists.对“世界上的现代电子设施是如何运作的”这一问题有兴趣的任何人,可以通过布朗姆先生这本书得到良好的入门指引。该书也是对被热议的“网络空间”或“云计算”这类抽象概念的及时说明。这些术语掩盖了一个事实:正如水管输送自来水,网路传递着信息。它有赖于老式、低技术含量的基础工作,人们的交往;这些都存在于现实的地理状况之中。201207/190198Science and technology科学与技术Prevention of cancer预防癌症Wonder drug特效药Aspirin continues to amaze15:17:29For more than a headache治的不仅仅是头疼FOR thousands of years aspirin has been humanitys wonder drug.几千年来,阿司匹林就一直是人类的特效药。Extracts from the willow tree have been used for pain relief in folk medicine since the time of the ancient Greeks.从古希腊开始,在民间医药中,人们就用柳树的萃取物缓解疼痛。By 1897 a synthetic derivative acetyl salicylic acid of the plants active ingredient was created.1897年,这种植物中的有效成分的人工合成衍生物诞生了,This allowed aspirin to become the most widely used medicine in the world.于是阿司匹林变成了世界上应用最广泛的药品。In recent years its benefits as a blood-thinning drug have led to it being prescribed in low doses of around 50mg to reduce deaths from stroke and heart attack.最近几年,由于阿司匹林的防血凝功能,在用其治疗中风和心脏病的时候,剂量很小,维持在50mg的水平左右。There were also hints that aspirin may help prevent some cancers.也有迹象表明阿司匹林可以帮助预防一些癌症。But these were mostly based on observational studies, which can be misleading.不过这些结论大多都是在观察研究的基础上的,因而有可能产生误导。The gold standard of scientific evidence is the randomised controlled trial, preferably one with a lot of people and held over a long time.国际上科学据的标准是由随机对照实验得出的结果,尤其是那些有很多人参与又经过很长时间的实验。The results of just such a trial, published in the Lancet, suggest that aspirin is indeed an astonishing drug.而就是这样一份发表在《柳叶刀》上的论文表示阿司匹林的确是一种让人吃惊的药物。Peter Rothwell at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford and his colleagues looked at deaths due to cancers during and after randomised trials of daily aspirin.来自牛津的约翰?拉德克里夫医院的彼得?罗思韦尔和他的同事们研究了在每日用阿司匹林的随机对照实验期间或者之后因癌症而死亡的病例。The trials had actually been started to look at how useful aspirin was for preventing heart attacks and strokes.这一实验本是为了研究阿司匹林在防止心脏病和中风方面的疗效的,Nevertheless, the data from the 25,570 patients enrolled in eight trials was also revealing about cancer.然而八项试验25570名患者的数据也揭示了阿司匹林对于癌症的疗效。In trials lasting between four and eight years, the patients who had been given aspirin were 21% less likely to die from cancer than those who had been given a placebo.在那些历时4到8年之间的实验中,用阿司匹林的患者因癌症而死亡的概率比那些用安慰剂的患者小了21%。These results were based on 674 cancer deaths, so are unlikely to represent the kind of statistical oddity that can beset studies on cancer risks that sometimes create headlines.这些结果是在674例癌症死亡病例的基础上得出的,所以不大可能是所谓的统计学上的例外。对癌症风险的研究会因这种例外而受挫,有时甚至会闹成大新闻。The benefits of aspirin were also apparent many years after the trials had ended.试验结束后的很多年后,阿司匹林的效果也仍旧明显。After five years, death rates for all cancers fell by 35% and for gastrointestinal cancers by 54%.五年后,所有癌症的死亡率下降了35%,而胃肠道癌症的死亡率则下降了54%。A long-term follow-up of patients showed that the 20-year risk of cancer death remained 20% lower in those who had taken aspirin.一项长期的病情跟踪报告显示,那些用阿司匹林的患者的20年内的癌症死亡风险比那些不用的低了20%。The study revealed that the effect takes time to accrue, so aspirin must be taken over a long period.这项研究揭示了阿司匹林的效果是随着时间而递增的,所以必须长期用才行。The latent period for improving oesophageal, pancreatic, brain and lung cancer was about five years of aspirin taking on a daily basis.每日用阿司匹林对改善食管癌,胰腺癌,脑癌和肺癌的潜伏期为5年,For stomach and colorectal cancer the effects took ten years and for prostate cancer about 15 years.对胃癌和结直肠癌则要花10年才能起作用,而前列腺癌则要15年。The means by which aspirin prevents cancer is not well understood.这意味着目前还不清楚阿司匹林到底是怎么预防癌症的。It is believed that it inhibits an enzyme that promotes cell proliferation in tumours.研究人员认为阿司匹林阻碍了一种在肿瘤内部促进细胞增殖的酶的活动。The researchers also found that small daily doses of aspirin were enough, and that taking more than 75mg conferred no additional benefits.研究者还发现,每天用小剂量的阿司匹林就已足够,剂量超过75mg后不会再增加效果。Those starting on aspirin in their late 40s or 50s benefit most.那些从四五十岁末就开始用阿司匹林的人得到的效果最好。Current guidelines on using aspirin for reducing the chances of a stroke or heart attack rightly warn of the small risk of ulcers and of dangerous bleeding in the stomach.目前在用阿司匹林治疗中风或者心脏病时,用药说明上会明确提醒有可能出现溃疡和危险性胃出血。These guidelines will probably have to be revised given the new findings.而鉴于这些新发现,这些说明很可能将要被修改了。However, it remains unlikely that popping aspirin will be recommended for everyone like a vitamin supplement.不过阿司匹林泡腾片不大可能像维生素补充剂一样被推广至每一个人。Aspirin is a highly cost-effective treatment:用阿司匹林是一种非常划算的治疗:taking it for five to ten years easily beats initiatives to screen for breast and prostate cancers.只要吃五到十年,就能打败那些让你做乳腺癌或者前列腺癌扫描的建议。To put it another way, ask yourself what a pharmaceuticals firm might charge for a drug that would reduce the chance of death by cancer by 20%—and then note that 100 days supply of low-dose aspirin can cost less than a dollar.换种说法,问问你自己,什么样的医药公司在看到100天的小剂量阿司匹林供应量还值不到一美元时,会对这种能够减少20%癌症死亡几率的药品开价呢?By anyones measure, that is a bargain.不管按照哪一方的标准,这都是一笔非常划算的交易。 点击此处下载本期经济学人讲解PDF与音频字幕 /201303/228078

The mayor of Detroit, Dave Bing, has seemed keen to negotiate a “consent agreement” between the city and the state. This would avoid a takeover, but would still set out exactly how the city must extricate itself from the crisis and manage itself in future. However, the agreement had to be signed and sealed by April 5th; if the deadline was missed, an emergency manager would probably be appointed.底特律市市长,Dave Bing似乎倾向于通过协商,使市政府与州政府达成“一致协议”。此举虽然可以避免被接管,但对于底特律城如何自我救赎,从危机中走出,以及如何安排城市的未来仍需做出明确的安排。然而,协议达成的最终期限是四月五日。一旦无法在最终期限内签属和生效,任命危机总长来接管城市,将势在必行。Aspects of the agreement are controversial, particularly with the city’s labour unions. It would set up a Financial Advisory Board to oversee the city’s restructuring, recommend cuts in services and appoint a chief financial officer (CFO). It imposes tough terms on future union contracts, a chief cause of Detroit’s financial malaise, and insists that all existing contracts, even those recently ratified, can be reopened. The financial advisory board would be appointed by both city and state, and would have to approve new labour agreements before they went to the mayor and city council for ratification. The CFO would be chosen by the mayor from a list of at least three names submitted by the governor. And if, after all this, the city failed to meet the required savings targets, Mr Snyder could still appoint an emergency manager.协议中的某些部分,尤其是与底特律各公会有关的条款,颇具争议。协议规定要组建财政指导委员会,监督底特律重建工程;对该削减那些民政务部门保有建议权;选出一名财务总监。鉴于公会合同是底特律财政顽疾的重要原因,协议中对未来公会合同条款做出了严格的规定。并坚持要求,所有仍在生效的合约,即使是在最近已做出修改,也都有重新协商的可能。财政指导委员会成员将由市政府和州政府共同任命,而且新的劳动协议必须在财政指导委员会得以通过后才能交由市长和市政委员会批准。至于财务总监,密西根州长将向底特律市市长推荐至少三人,并交由底特律市长从这些候选人中选出。即使以上条款如实通过,一旦无法达到所要求的财政节约目标,州长先生仍有可能会向底特律指派危机处理员。The city council’s response to the consent agreement has ranged from resigned to downright hostile. As The Economist went to press early on April 4th, the nine members had delayed voting on it. One even asked,“What is the hurry?” The hurry was the next day’s deadline. Meanwhile, a coalition of unions has gone on the attack. They argue that the agreement was negotiated behind closed doors, rather than openly as the law requires, and want a federal judge to stop the city and state signing it. The judge said late on April 3rd that he will rule on the matter by April 9th: in other words, after the deadline.市政委员们对此协议的反应是有人逆来顺受,有些则嗤之以鼻。截止到四月四日上午本刊即将出版发行之前,九位市政委员推迟就此议案进行投票。一位委员竟脱口问道:“为什么这么急?”着急的原因是四月五日就是截止期。与此同时,底特律公会间已达成联盟,开始进行反击。他们提出,协商议案属于暗箱操作,违反法律所规定公正公开的原则。他们希望联邦法官阻止市政府和州政府达成协议。而联邦法官在四月三日晚些时候给出的答复却是他会在四月九日就此事作出判决。换句话说,过了截止期再说。Mr Snyder has laid out the state’s case on a new website, “Detroit can’t wait”. It includes a personal commitment from him to ensure that, “in the short term…the streetlights are on at night and trash is picked up”, and,that “buses run on a reliable schedule so people can get to work”. Whether by a consent agreement or an emergency manager, Detroit’s freedom of action is aly tightly constrained. The alternative, though, is bankruptcy.州长先生开通一个叫“底特律不能再拖下去了”的新网站,用于提供有关此事处理的相关消息。他本人也做出了承诺,保 “短时间内,晚间照明仍能保,市政清洁仍将继续。公共交通还将按时运营,以保障人们仍可乘车上下班。”不管是一致协议还是危机总长,底特律的命运已不能完全掌握在自己手中,再有何举动也要看别人的眼色行事。尽管面前还有另一条路,却是通向破产的深渊。201204/177835

Temperatures in the outback of Australia have been known to reach up to 57 degrees Celsius. That’s over 130 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s unbearably hot. And the search-and-rescue guys say if someone is dropped into the middle of that, with nothing, no water, within three hours, they’d be dead. And the most important part of you to keep cool is your head.澳洲内陆温度已知曾高达57摄氏度,超过华氏130度,是令人难以忍受的高温。搜救人员说,进入内陆的人若连水都没有,不出三个小时就会死亡。身体最需要保持凉爽的是头部。You have to reduce the risk of overheating. You could use your T-shirt, but then the sun would sear your body. So if you are a guy, all you’ve got left are your boxer shorts. Hat on, some sort of protection. I’m y to go. Your head is the most vulnerable part of your body and your hat will keep you cooler. But the big problem will be water. You might need to resort to extreme measures to survive. The only thing I can do is to drink my own pee.为了降低中暑的风险,你应该穿着T-恤衫,不然太阳会灼伤你身体。如果你是男的,到最后会只剩下四角裤。戴上帽子,这也是一种保护措施。我准备走了。头是身体最脆弱的部位,帽子会让你保持凉爽。但最大的难题是水。你也许需要采取非常手段才能存活。我唯一能做的就是喝自己的尿液。I’m in the Kimberley in north Australia. I’m showing how to survive in this hostile wilderness. You’ll need water, but if there isn’t any, you can drink your own pee. And this is something I’ve never done before and I’m expecting it to be pretty horrible. But I need to keep those fluids going in. It may seem disgusting, but your own urine is safe to drink.我目前的位置在澳大利亚北部的金伯利。我将向你们展示如何在危机四伏的荒野求生。你需要水,但如果没有水源,你只能喝自己的尿液。我以前从未喝过,并一直觉得这样做十分恐怖。我们的身体需要输入这些液体。也许看起来很恶心,但喝自己的尿液是安全的。And if I just peed on the ground, that’s all those fluids wasted.如果把尿撒在地上,所有的水分都浪费了。God. There’s no getting away from it. That really is pretty horrible. It’s like warm and it’s salty and not my favourite.天哪。这是不可避免的。尿液的味道很恐怖。就像虫子的味道,咸咸的,不是滋味。201206/186346

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