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彗星和小行星

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多年来,彗星和小行星仍然鲜为世人所知。第一颗直到19世纪才被发现。这么晚才发现他们的原因是需要有合适的技术来观察如此遥远的小天体。通常我们认为彗星和小行星是一回事,其实他们是截然不同的。

小行星,也叫小的行星或行星样天体,他们大小迥异。迄今为止发现最小的小行星直径仅有20英尺,最大的却有580英里。有些大的小行星甚至有绕行的卫星。Ceres是在火星和木星之间的主小行星带中发现的最大的一个。它的直径足有975公里,在2006年它被定为矮行星。它几乎占了这条小行星带总质量的1/3.Ceres上的一天等于地球上的9小时。小行星的外形有的是圆形的,有的是不规则的。它们的组成成分也有差别,但是大部分都是由岩石、镍和矿物质组成。有些小行星还含有铁和碳。小行星有三种类型。M型是最亮的一种,因为它们可以反射太阳光,它们占已知的小行星中最少的那部分。大约只有8%。C 型是最暗的那种,因为它们大部分成分是铁和碳元素,反射阳光的能力不是很强,它们占已知的小行星中的75%。S型含有硅酸盐,它们只存在小行星带的内侧,组成了剩下的17%。小行星上的平均温度都在零下100华氏温度/73℃。在火星和木星之间的小行星带上被发现的大部分小行星都绕太阳运行。已经发现了数百万颗。大部分是沿着椭圆轨道的,呈卵圆形。如果哪颗小行星和火星或者木星走得太近,它们就会被吸引到这个行星轨道上去。通常这种情况下,小行星会裂解成小碎片或撞向这个星球。部分科学家认为65,000,000年前的地球上也发生过类似的事情,导致了气候的大转变和恐龙的灭绝。但是小行星撞击地球是很少发生的。假如在坠地以前它们没有被燃烧殆尽,就叫做陨石。在被发现的陨石中,有92.8%是由硅酸盐组成的,5.7%由铁和镍组成,剩下的那些则由各种矿物质组成。很多理论来解释小行星的成因,但被多数人采纳的是一种观点是它们是在46亿年前太阳系形成的时候遗留的碎片。大部分科学家认为太阳系是由包含气体、星尘和冰的星云构成,它们像圆盘一样围绕在膨胀的太阳周围。太阳系里面的细小星尘不断凝聚最终形成了行星。在火星和木星之间,没有岩石能变成行星是因为木星的引力太强了。其他小行星结合在一起形成了现在的行星或者是它们的卫星。当小行星轨道根数相似时,它们被命名为一个宇航员的名字Kiyotsogu Hirayama,因为他是最先发现这个规律的。

彗星是冰组成的,它会释放气体或者尘埃。包括岩石,尘埃,冰和低温气体。虽然这些冰也是水组成的,但是通常还含有其他物质如铵、二氧化碳、一氧化碳和甲烷。它们的核心是一个固体核(冰和岩石粒组成的球),尾随着云雾状的彗发。彗发可以有2条或者3条。彗星也绕太阳运行,当它们与太阳足够近的时候,来自彗发的气体和尘埃就会反射阳光,所以我们能看到它们的尾巴。彗发可以长达一千万公里长。彗发是彗星最容易被肉眼看到的部分。当彗星接近太阳系内部的时候,太阳的热量让部分彗星核蒸发,有时候会导致彗星的崩解。这时候,气体和尘埃会散的到处都是,和其他更多的尘埃和气体一起形成新的彗星。彗星直径从100米到40公里不等。虽然大部分彗星小到不能为肉眼所看到,只有那些沿着大型椭圆形轨道运行的彗星才能从地球上被观测到。和小行星一样,彗星也可以被分为几种类型。通常是两种:第一种短周期彗星,它们绕行太阳一周需要200年或不到200年。第二种是长周期彗星,它们则需要200年以上的时间绕行太阳一周。部分彗星的轨道甚至比冥王星更远,它们需要一千年的时间再次回到太阳系。还发现有些彗星的轨道周期是3000万年。最著名的短周期彗星莫过于哈雷彗星了。它75-76年能被看到一次。它出门的原因在于公元前240年就有人观察到它了。为什么关于它的记录如此之多是因为它是唯一能被肉眼清晰地看到的一颗彗星。科学家认为短周期彗星来自于一种离冥王星不远的叫做Kupid带的天体。引力较大的大型外行星能把这些彗星拉到太阳系内来。长周期彗星则来自于很远的叫做Oort星云的地方。Oort星云大约在1光年以外,它距太阳的距离是冥王星轨道的1000倍距离。这就是为什么彗星这么冷的原因。它们离我们的太阳太远了,几乎没有热量能到达它们。当行经的星球有足够的引力时,他们能被拉到太阳系里来。每当彗星进入太阳系中后,它就开始释放冰和尘埃。最后所有的冰和尘埃都释放殆尽,它们就崩解或者变成尘埃。这些尘埃也能变成类似小行星的小型惰性天体。当彗星释放尘埃和冰时并且飞越地球轨道,我们就能看到流星雨。彗星也能接近其他行星,并且进入新的运行轨道,或者被驱逐出太阳系。这种现象特别容易发生在当它们掠过木星表面的时候,这是因为由于彗星的质量以及和地球的距离,它们对于地球的威胁不如小行星来的大,但是在1994年一个名叫Shomaker-Levy9的彗星碎成几块并且撞向了木星。假如发生在地球上,后果不堪设想。科学家认为40亿年前地球经常会被彗星袭击。部分科学家还认为这些彗星携带有大量的水,甚至有人认为彗星给地球带来了生命。如果这些都是真的,那么彗星会成为未来的一种自然资源。已经对此展开了一些研究。2004年美国航空航天局的星团任务就是飞向Wild2彗星,并且在2006年带回一块彗星样本。#p#分页标题#e#

假如小行星撞击地球,根据它们不同的大小,会带来很多破坏。假如小行星撞击地球,它们的平均撞击速度将达到30公里每秒。如果一个大型的小行星撞击,在它落地之前很难把它的速度降下来。假如这个小行星足够大,它的撞击将会产生一个火山口,不论在陆地还是水里。假如它撞击陆地,大量岩石会被抛向空中。部分岩石会飞到地球的轨道上去,但是大部分还是会落到地面。掉下了的岩石块会产生灾难性的结果。它们不仅会撞击小行星坠落的部位,还会落到世界各地。小行星的热量会使大气温度上升直到地球生物无法忍受。极高的温度会使一切都热起来直至地下。这些会让地球成为一个大火球。科学家说撞击带来的尘埃及燃烧留下的烟灰会弥漫在大气中遮云蔽日。没有生物生长所赖的阳光,一切都会毁灭。人类很快会被杀死。科学家估计平均每五千万年到一亿年就有一个类似规模的小行星撞击地球。最近的一次灾难性的撞击发生在六千五百万年前,很多人认为正是这次撞击使恐龙灭绝了。

译文:彗星和小行星


For many years comets and asteroids remained hidden to the world. Thefirst of them weren’t discovered until the 19th century. The reason whydiscovering the asteroids and comets took so long was because propertechnology was needed to observe such faraway items. Comets andasteroids are often thought of as the same thing when they are in factvery different from one another.
Asteroids, also known as minor planets or planetoids can measure anysize. The smallest Asteroid to ever be found had a diameter of 20 feet,while the largest found had a diameter of 580 miles. Some biggerasteroids even have moons orbiting them. Ceres is the largest asteroidfound in the main asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.It measures about 975 km, and in 2006 it was classified as a dwarfplanet. It contains almost a third of the belt’s total mass by itself.One day on Ceres is 9 hours. Asteroids can have round or irregularshapes. They also vary in composition, but are usually made out ofrocks, nickel, and minerals. Some also contain iron and carbon. Thereare three different types of asteroids. The m-type which is thebrightest because it reflects the sunlight, makes up the smallestportion of known asteroids. That is only 8%. The c-type, which is thedarkest because it is made of mostly iron and carbon, and doesn’treflect the sunlight very well, make up 75% of the astero ids we know.The s-type which contain silicate and are only found in the inner partof the asteroid belt, make up 17 % of know asteroids. The averagetemperature on asteroids is -100 degrees Fahrenheit or -73 degreesCelsius. Most asteroids can be found in an asteroid belt between Marsand Jupiter were they orbit the sun. Millions of asteroids have beenfound there. Most asteroids follow elliptical orbits, which are ovalshaped. If an asteroid has a close encounter with Mars or Jupiter, itcan be pushed into another planets orbit. When this happens asteroidsare some times broken into smaller pieces or they collide with anotherplanet. Some scientists believe this happened on Earth 65 million yearsago, which led to many climate changes and the eventual extinction ofdinosaurs. Occasionally, asteroids hit Earth. If an asteroid doesn’tburn before it touches the ground, it is called a meteorite. From allmeteorites found, 92.8% are composed of silicate, 5.7% are composed ofiron and nickel, and the rest are composed of different minerals. Thereare many different theory’s of how asteroids were created, but themostly accepted one is that they left over remains from when the solarsystem was created 4.6 billion years ago. Most scientists believe thatthe solar system formed from a Nebula of gas, dust and ices, thatturned into a disk around the developing sun. Inside it, there weretiny dust grains that coagulated and eventually became planets. BetweenMars and Jupiter, no rocks ever turned into pl anets because ofJupiter’s very strong gravitational pull. Other asteroids combinedtogether to form what are now planets and satellites. When asteroidshave similar orbital elements, they are named after the astronomerKiyotsogu Hirayama because he was the first one to recognize that thefamilies existed.
Comets are icy body’s that release gas or dust.They contain rock, dust, ice, and frozen gases. Although their ice ismade of water, it can contain other substances like ammonia, carbondioxide, carbon monoxide, and methane. Their core is a solid nucleus(ball of ice and rocky particles) that’s surrounded by a cloudyatmosphere called a coma. Comas can have two or three tails. Cometsorbit the sun, and when they are close enough to the sun, the gas anddust from their tails reflects sunlight so you can see their tailsbehind them. These tails can be up to ten million kilometers long. Thetail is the easiest part of a comet to see without any visual aid. Ascomets get near the inner solar system, the heat from the evaporatessome of the nucleus, which sometimes causes it to breakdown. When thishappens, gas and dust are spewed everywhere, and they combine with moredust and gases to form new comet. Comets measure anywhere from 100meters to 40 km across. Although most comets are to small or faint tobe seen from Earth without a telescope, only comets traveling aroundthe sun in large, oval orbits can be seen from Earth. Like asteroidscomets are separated into different groups. There are two groups. Thefirst one is short period comets, they take 200 years or less to orbitthe sun. The second group is long period comets, they take 200 year ormore to orbit the sun. Some Comets have very large orbits that go farbeyond Pluto, and they cant take millenniums to come back into theinner solar system. Some comets have been found to take over thirtymillion years to complete one orbit around the sun. The most famous ofshort period comets is comet Halley. This comet can be seen every 75-76years. Halley is so famous because it has been Observed since 240 BC.The reason why there are so many records of it is because it is theonly shot period comet that can easily be seen with the naked eye.Scientists believe that short period comets come from a set of objectscalled the kupid belt, which is located a bit farther than Pluto'sorbit. Large outer planets with strong gravitational pulls can pullthese comets into the inner solar system. Long period comets come froma place much farther away called the Oort cloud. The Oort cloud isabout one light year, or 1000 times farther away from the sun thanPluto's orbit. This is why Comets are so icy. They are very far fromour sun, and almost no heat reaches them. When passing stars havestrong enough gravitational pulls, they can pull comets into the innersolar system. Every time comets come into the inner solar system, theyloose ice and dust. Eventually they loose all their ice and dust, andbreakup or displa ce into clouds. The dust can also turn into smallerinactive objects similar to asteroids. When comets loose dust and ice,and cross Earth’s path, we can see meteor showers. Comets can also comeinto close encounters with other planets, and fall into new orbits, orbe expelled from the solar system. This especially happens with Jupiterbecause Comets aren’t as much a threat to Earth as asteroids are,because of their quantity and distance from Earth, but in 1994 thecomet Shomaker-Levy 9 broke into pieces and collided with Jupiter. Ifthis had happened to Earth, there would have been disastrousconsequences. Scientists believe that about 4 billion years ago Earthwas constantly being bombarded by comets. Some scientists believe thatthese comets brought a large portion of water, and some even believethat comets brought life on Earth. If this is true, comets may be asource for future resources. There have been some attempts to studycomets. In 2004 Nasa's stardust mission visited the comet wild 2, andin 2006 took a sample of comet particles back to Earth.


If anasteroid hit Earth, depending on it’s size a lot of damage could becaused. If an asteroid hit Earth, it’s average speed would be 30kilometers per second. If a large asteroid hit, it would be verydifficult for it slow down before it hit Earths crust. If the asteroidwas big enough, it would create a crater on either land or water. If ithit land, large amounts of rock would be thrown into the air. Some ofthat rock would fly high enough to get stuck in Earths orbit, but mostof the rock would fall back to the ground. The falling rock would havedisastrous consequences. It wouldn’t just hit the site of impact, itwould fall all over Earth. The heat from the asteroid would heat theatmosphere until the temperature would become unbearable for life. Theextreme temperatures would heat up everything that isn’t shelteredunderground. This could turn the Earth into a huge fireball. Scientistssay the combination of dust from the impact and soot from fires wouldremain in the atmosphere blocking the sunlight. Without the neededsunlight everything on Earth that relies on sun will die off. Humanswould immediately be killed. On average scientists say an asteroid ofthis amplitude hits Earth every 50 to 100 million years. The last timean asteroid so catastrophic hit Earth was 65 million years ago, manybelieve this is what killed dinosaurs.


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