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科学美国人60秒: 从天空扫描古代文明

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Scanning Ancient Civilizations from the Skies

从天空扫描古代文明

If there's a fifth Indiana Jones movie, Indy might want to use one of the hottest new tools revolutionizing archaeology: LiDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging, which allows archaeologists to survey ancient sites from the skies.

如果有第五部印第安那·琼斯的电影,印地安那·琼斯可能会想要使用一种最热门的新工具来革新考古学:激光雷达,或者光探测和测距,它可以让考古学家从天空中调查古代遗址。

"Think of an impressionistic painting, the closer you look at the painting, the closer you look at the painting you see the brush strokes. When you pull away, suddenly it's obviously the face of a woman in a park. You know, your brain can interpolate that stuff better at a distance."Marcello Canuto, an archaeologist at Tulane University.

“想象一幅印象派的画,你越仔细地看这幅画,你就越仔细地看这幅画,你就会看到笔触。当你抽离的时候,突然间很明显是公园里一个女人的脸。你知道,你的大脑可以在很远的地方更好地插值。卡努托(Marcello Canuto),杜兰大学(Tulane University)的考古学家。

"LiDAR allows us to see these small little features that close up look like little pieces of data that we're not sure what to do with, but when you zoom out, there it is, clear as day."The technology works like radar, but shoots laser pulses instead of radio waves, to 3-D map a landscape. In 2016 it was used to map over 800 square miles of Guatemalan jungle, including the area around the famous tourist site Tikal. Canuto remembers when he and his colleagues first saw the footage.

“激光雷达可以让我们看到这些小特征,这些小特征看起来就像小数据,我们不知道该怎么处理,但当你缩小,它就像白天一样清晰。”这项技术的工作原理类似于雷达,但它可以发射激光脉冲而不是无线电波,从而绘制出三维景观图。2016年,它被用来绘制超过800平方英里的危地马拉丛林地图,包括著名旅游景点蒂卡尔周围的区域。卡努托还记得他和他的同事第一次看到这段录像的时候。

"One hour went into two, went into three. We just lost track of time. It got dark outside, we were just open mouthed, we couldn't believe what we were seeing." What they discovered, after careful analysis, were buildings in areas they'd already excavated. And big landscape-level features, like canals and roads, bridges, ditches and walls.

两个小时过去了,三个小时过去了。我们只是忘了时间。外面天黑了,我们只是张着嘴,简直不敢相信我们看到了什么。经过仔细分析,他们发现的是他们已经挖掘过的地区的建筑。还有大型景观设施,如运河和道路、桥梁、沟渠和围墙。

"It was a very humbling moment for all of us. To be able to think, wow, that was under our feet the whole time and we didn't recognize it." Overall, the density of structures suggests a population of somewhere between seven and 11 million people in the region, more than 1000 years ago - which aligns with previous estimates. Maps, photos and a catalog of what they found are in the journal Science. [Marcello A. Canuto et al., Ancient lowland Maya complexity as revealed by airborne laser scanning of northern Guatemala]

“对我们所有人来说,这是一个非常谦卑的时刻。能够思考,哇,这一直在我们的脚下,我们没有意识到。总体而言,结构密度表明该地区的人口大约在1000多年前的700万到1100万之间,这与之前的估计相符。他们发现的地图、照片和目录刊登在《科学》杂志上。

Nearly 100 years ago, the famous aviators Anne and Charles Lindbergh flew over some of the same swaths of jungle, taking photographs from the sky, partly in hopes of aiding archaeologists. "It was very early appreciated that under the jungle canopy there was a lot to see. If we could only see through the jungle canopy." Now, we can. And it's a foundation, Canuto says, for an entirely new era in archaeology.

近100年前,著名的飞行员安妮和查尔斯·林德伯格(Anne和Charles Lindbergh)飞越了同一片丛林,从空中拍摄照片,部分原因是希望能帮助考古学家。“很早就意识到,在丛林的树冠下有很多东西可以看。如果我们能透过丛林的树冠。”现在,我们可以。卡努托说,这是考古学一个全新时代的基础。

Scanning Ancient Civilizations from the Skies

If there's a fifth Indiana Jones movie, Indy might want to use one of the hottest new tools revolutionizing archaeology: LiDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging, which allows archaeologists to survey ancient sites from the skies.

"Think of an impressionistic painting, the closer you look at the painting, the closer you look at the painting you see the brush strokes. When you pull away, suddenly it's obviously the face of a woman in a park. You know, your brain can interpolate that stuff better at a distance."Marcello Canuto, an archaeologist at Tulane University.

"LiDAR allows us to see these small little features that close up look like little pieces of data that we're not sure what to do with, but when you zoom out, there it is, clear as day."The technology works like radar, but shoots laser pulses instead of radio waves, to 3-D map a landscape. In 2016 it was used to map over 800 square miles of Guatemalan jungle, including the area around the famous tourist site Tikal. Canuto remembers when he and his colleagues first saw the footage.

"One hour went into two, went into three. We just lost track of time. It got dark outside, we were just open mouthed, we couldn't believe what we were seeing." What they discovered, after careful analysis, were buildings in areas they'd already excavated. And big landscape-level features, like canals and roads, bridges, ditches and walls.

"It was a very humbling moment for all of us. To be able to think, wow, that was under our feet the whole time and we didn't recognize it." Overall, the density of structures suggests a population of somewhere between seven and 11 million people in the region, more than 1000 years ago - which aligns with previous estimates. Maps, photos and a catalog of what they found are in the journal Science. [Marcello A. Canuto et al., Ancient lowland Maya complexity as revealed by airborne laser scanning of northern Guatemala]

Nearly 100 years ago, the famous aviators Anne and Charles Lindbergh flew over some of the same swaths of jungle, taking photographs from the sky, partly in hopes of aiding archaeologists. "It was very early appreciated that under the jungle canopy there was a lot to see. If we could only see through the jungle canopy." Now, we can. And it's a foundation, Canuto says, for an entirely new era in archaeology.


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