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比尔盖茨推荐《增长》:一本关于增长的书,各种意义上的增长

2020-05-01

After astronaut Rusty Schweickart looked down on Earth from space for the first time, he described a sense of ...“”

After astronaut Rusty Schweickart looked down on Earth from space for the first time, he described a sense of awe that has become common to almost every space traveler since:“You realize that on that little blue and white thing there is everything that means anything to you, all history and music and poetry and art and death and birth and love, all of it on that little spot out there you can cover with your thumb.”NASA calls this realization“the overview effect.”No matter what country you’re from, you return from space with a feeling that our home is tiny, fragile, and something we need to protect.

在宇航员拉塞尔·施威卡特第一次从太空俯视地球后,他描绘了一种尔后简直每个太空旅行者都会有的敬畏感:“你意识到在那个蓝白色的小东西上,有着全部对你有含义的事物——全部的前史、音乐、诗篇、艺术、逝世、出世和爱,全部这些都来自那个能够用拇指遮住的小地方。”美国宇航局称之为“总观效应”。不管你来自哪个国家,你从太空回来时都会感觉到咱们的家乡既小又软弱,咱们需求维护它。

Anyone who reads the new book Growth, the newest of 39 brilliant books by one of my favorite thinkers, will come away with similar urgency. The author, the Czech-Canadian professor Vaclav Smil, approaches things from a scientist’s point of view, not an astronaut’s, but he reaches the same conclusion: Earth is fragile and“before it is too late, we should embark in earnest on the most fundamental existential [task] of making any future growth compatible with the long-term preservation of the only biosphere we have.”

任何读过《增加》这本新书的读者都会感受到相似的紧迫感,这本书是我最喜欢的一位思想家最新创造的第39本创作。作者捷克裔加拿大人瓦科拉夫·斯米尔教授,从科学家而非宇航员的视点看待事物,但得出了相同的定论:地球是软弱的,“在全部都太迟之前,咱们应该仔细着手处理最底子的生存性[使命],使未来的任何增加都与对咱们仅有具有的生物圈的长时间维护相匹配。”

Before I get into how Smil came to this conclusion, I should warn you. Although Growth is a brilliant synthesis of everything we can learn from patterns of growth in the natural and human-made world, it’s not for everyone. Long sections read like a textbook or engineering manual. , and continuation of this growth pattern would have multiplied the 1980 level almost 10 times by 2015.”) And it has 99 pages of references!

在我介绍斯米尔怎么得出这个定论之前,我应该提示你:尽管《增加》奇特般地归纳了咱们能在自然界和人工国际的增加形式中学到的全部事物,但它并非合适全部人阅览。书中大段的文字读起来像是教科书或工程手册。捕捉到的轨道。假如连续这种增加形式,1980年的数据到2015年将翻上10倍。”)而且它的参考文献部分有99页!

As Smil writes,“My aim is to illuminate varieties of growth in evolutionary and historical perspectives and hence to appreciate both the accomplishments and the limits of growth in modern civilization... Simply put, this book deals in realities as it sets the growth of everything into long-term evolutionary and historical perspectives and does so in rigorous quantitative terms.”

斯米尔写道:“我的方针是从进化和前史的视点说明各式各样的增加,然后剖析现代文明的成就和增加极限……简略地说,这本书落脚到了实际,由于它将全部事物的增加归入长时间的进化和前史的视角,辅以严厉的量化方法。”

When Smil says“the growth of everything,”he means everything. Chapter 1 introduces a lot of technical detail behind the three most common growth curves seen in our natural and built environments: linear, exponential, and hyperbolic. Even if you don’t like math, don’t let this chapter scare you off, because it makes a really important point: It destroys the idea that you can take an early growth curve for a particular development—the uptake of the smartphone, for example—and use it as the basis for predicting the future. Yes, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore made a surprisingly accurate prediction about the exponential growth in the number of transistors on a chip. But even that“law”is likely reaching the end of its useful life. Transistors are now so small, we’re running into problems making them even smaller.

当斯米尔说“万物的增加”时,他指的是全部事物。第一章介绍了自然环境和修建环境中常见的三种增加曲线背面的许多技术细节。即便你不喜欢数学,也不要被这一章吓跑,由于它提出了一个非常重要的观念。它摧毁了这样一种主意,即你能够使用在某样特定的发展中看到的前期增加曲线,并将其用作猜测未来的根底。是的,英特尔联合创始人戈登·摩尔,对芯片上晶体管数量的指数增加做出了令人惊奇的精确猜测。但即便是那种猜测规律也可能会失效。晶体管现在很小,而咱们现在现已很难把它们造得更小了。

The next few chapters are easier to follow. Chapter 2 is all about the growth of living systems—from microorganisms to sequoia forests, and from humans to dinosaurs. My favorite part of this chapter was Smil’s discussion of food production, which is instructive for our foundation’s work in agriculture and does a good job of explaining what kinds of productivity gains are possible.

接下来的几章更简单了解一些。第二章满是关于生物体系的增加——从微生物到红杉林,从人类到恐龙。这一章我最喜欢的部分是斯米尔关于食物出产的评论,这对咱们基金会在农业方面的作业很有启示含义,而且很好地解说了出产率进步的合理数值。

In chapter 3, he lands on a topic he knows better than just about anyone else: the development and diffusion of new sources of energy—from traditional water wheels to nuclear reactors. He has covered a lot of this terrain in previous books such as his masterful Energy and Civilization. But here he’s setting the stage for subsequent chapters on technological developments that were made possible by the conversion of resources like water, wind, carbon, and solar radiation into energy.

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