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双语:《时间简史》是一本怎样的书?

2018-03-16 09:55

来源:BBC

作者:

  Stephen Hawking was the most remarkable author I had the privilege of working with during my career as the director of science publishing at Cambridge University Press.

  斯蒂芬-霍金是我在剑桥大学出版社担任科学出版总监期间有幸合作的最杰出的作家。

  In 1982, I had responsibility for his third academic book for the Press, Superspace And Supergravity.

  1982年,我负责为他的第三本学术著作《超空间和超引力》出版。

  This was a messy collection of papers from a technical workshop on how to devise a new theory of gravity.

  这是一个来自技术研讨会的关于如何设计新的引力理论的杂乱无章的文字。

  While that book was in production, I suggested he try something easier: a popular book about the nature of the Universe, suitable for the general market.

  当这本书在制作时,我建议他尝试一些更简单的方法:一本适合普通市场的,关于宇宙本质的畅销书。

  Stephen mulled over my suggestion.

  史蒂芬仔细考虑了我的建议。

  He already had an international reputation as a brilliant theoretical physicist working on rotating black holes and theories of gravity.

  他作为一名在旋转黑洞和重力理论方面的杰出理论物理学家,当时已经享有国际声誉。

  And he had concerns about financial matters: importantly, it was impossible for him to obtain any form of life insurance to protect his family in the event of his death or becoming total dependent on nursing care.

  而且他对财务问题表示担忧:重要的是,他不可能获得任何形式的人寿保险,以便在他的死亡或完全依赖护理的情况下得以保护他的家人。

  So, he took precious time out from his research to prepare the rough draft of a book.

  所以,他从他的研究中花了宝贵的时间准备了一本书的草稿。

  At the time, several bestselling physics authors had already published non-technical books on the early Universe and black holes.

  当时,几位最畅销的物理学作家已经发表了有关早期宇宙和黑洞的非技术书籍。

  Stephen decided to write a more personal approach, by explaining his own research in cosmology and quantum theory.

  斯蒂芬决定用一个更个人化的方法,解释他自己在宇宙学和量子理论方面的研究。

  As he himself pointed out it, his area of interest had "become so technical that only a very small number of specialists could master the mathematics" used to describe it.

  正如他自己指出的那样,他的兴趣领域“变得技术性很强,只有极少数专家能够掌握其用来解释它的数学”。

  For a starting point, he took some themes from a course of advanced lectures that he had recently given at Harvard University.

  一开始,他从最近在哈佛大学授予的高级讲座课程中选择了一些主题。

  These had catchy titles such as "The edge of spacetime", "Black holes and thermodynamics", and "Quantum gravity".

  这些作品引人入胜,如“时空的边缘”,“黑洞与热力学”以及“量子引力”。

  In the 1980s, my office and Stephen’s were in the same courtyard in central Cambridge, so I often chatted with him about publishing.

  在20世纪80年代,我的办公室和斯蒂芬的所在地都在剑桥市中心的同一个庭院里,所以我经常和他谈论出版问题。

  One afternoon he invited me to take a look at the first draft, but first he wanted to discuss cash.

  有一天下午,他邀请我看看初稿,但首先他想讨论现金。

  He told me he had spent considerable time away from his research, and that he expected advances and royalties to be large.

  他告诉我他已经花了相当多的本来用于做研究的时间,因此期望预付款和高版税。

  When I pressed him on the market that he foresaw, he insisted that it had to be on sale, up front, at all airport bookshops in the UK and the US.

  当我将他推上他预见到的市场时,他坚持说,该书必须在英国和美国的所有机场书店出售。

  I told that was a tough call for a university press.

  我告诉他,这对大学出版社来说是一个艰难的要求。

  Then I thumbed the typescript. To my dismay, the text was far too technical for a general reader.

  然后我翻阅了打字稿。令我沮丧的是,这段文字对于一般读者来说过于技术化了。

  A few weeks later he showed me a revision, much improved, but still littered with equations.

  几周后,他向我展示了一个改进版,改进得非常好,但仍然充斥着方程式。

  I said: "Steve, it’s still too technical - every equation will halve the market."

  我说:“史蒂夫,这仍然太技术 - 每一个等式都会使市场减半。”

  He eventually removed all except one, E = mc?. And he decided, fortunately, to place it with a mass market publisher rather than a university press.

  他最终删除了所有方程式,只剩下一个E =mc?。幸运的是,他决定把它交给大众市场出版商而不是大学出版社。

  Bantam published A Brief History of Time in March 1988.

  Bantam出版社于1988年3月出版了《时间简史》。

  Sales took off like a rocket, and it ranked as a bestseller for at least five years.

  销售量像火箭一样成为畅销书,持续了至少五年。

  Total sales approached 10 million copies.

  总销售量接近1000万份。

  The book’s impact on the popularisation of science has been incalculable.

  这本书对科学普及的影响是无法估量的。

  Stephen was an inspirational ambassador for the power of science to provide rational accounts of the physical laws governing the natural world.

  斯蒂芬是一位鼓舞人心的科学力量大使,他提供了有关自然世界的物理规律的理性说明。

  Dr Simon Mitton is a historian of science at the University of Cambridge

  本文来自Simon Mitton博士,剑桥大学的一位科学史学家。

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