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科学美国人60秒: 用同位素验证假威士忌

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Fingering Fake Whiskeys with Isotopes
 用同位素验证假威士忌

 
“It came to our attention a few years ago that there were fraudulent whiskeys on the market.Gordon Cook of the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Center.
 
“几年前,市场上出现了假的威士忌,这引起了我们的注意。”苏格兰大学环境研究中心的戈登·库克说。
 
“Scotch whiskey is Scotland’s product, and we felt that being a radiocarbon laboratory in Scotland, we should take a lead on this.”
 
“苏格兰威士忌是苏格兰的产品,我们觉得作为苏格兰的一个放射性碳实验室,我们应该在这方面发挥带头作用。”
 
Scotch whiskey is made from barley, which absorbs carbon dioxide from the air as it grows. Most of the carbon is carbon-12. But a small percentage is the radioactive isotope carbon-14, which decays at a constant, known rate— and has therefore long been used to “carbon-date” biological samples.
 
苏格兰威士忌是用大麦酿造的,大麦在生长过程中会吸收空气中的二氧化碳。大部分是碳12。但是一小部分是放射性同位素碳14,它以一个恒定的、已知的速率衰变,因此长期以来一直被用于“碳定年”生物样本。
 
“Then, in the early 1950s, we had the start of the atmospheric weapons test, and these produce carbon-14. By 1960, you were twice the natural level. And ’63—there was a test ban treaty, so ’63 was the maximum. Since then, the level in the atmosphere has decreased as the radiocarbon goes into the biota and the oceans.”
 
然后,在20世纪50年代早期,我们开始了大气武器试验,这些武器产生了碳14。到1960年,是正常水平的两倍。63年有一个禁止核试验条约,所以63年是最高的。从那以后,随着放射性碳进入生物群和海洋,大气中的含量已经下降。”
 
So unusually high levels of carbon-14 are associated with barley grown during the years when nuclear testing was widespread.
 
因此,在核试验盛行的那些年里,大麦的碳14含量异常高。
 
There’s obviously a lot of money in whiskey. And some classics get bought not as imbibements but as investments. Last October, a 60-year-old 1926 bottle was auctioned off for $1.9 million.
 
威士忌显然有很多钱。有些经典作品不是作为饮料而是作为投资而被购买的。去年10月,一瓶有60年历史的1926年的葡萄酒以190万美元的价格被拍卖。
 
To make sure that the stuff inside bottles of Scotch whiskey matches what’s on the labels, Cook and his colleagues looked at levels of the carbon-14 in the drink. They calibrated levels of the radioactive variant of carbon in more than 200 different single-malt Scotch whiskey samples of known ages. The researchers then compared those levels to eight whiskeys claiming to have been bottled from 1847 to 1978.
 
为了确保苏格兰威士忌酒瓶里的东西与标签上的相符,库克和他的同事研究了饮料中的碳-14含量。他们校准了200多种已知年份的单一麦芽威士忌样品中碳的放射性变异水平。然后,研究人员将这些含量与声称从1847年到1978年间瓶装的八种威士忌进行了比较。
 
“We haven’t found any whiskeys purported to be from the 19th century that are genuine.”
 “我们没有发现任何来自19世纪的纯正威士忌。”
 
Because those allegedly 19th-century bottles contained material clearly produced during the nuclear-testing era. The study is in the journal Radiocarbon.
 
因为那些据说是19世纪的瓶子里装的显然是核试验时期生产的材料。这项研究发表在《放射性碳》杂志上。
 
Cook hopes these verification techniques will help keep the whiskey business true to the words of Robert Burns: “Here’s a bottle and an honest friend.”
 
库克希望这些验证技术将有助于保持威士忌业务忠实于罗伯特·伯恩斯的话:“这是一瓶酒,也是一个诚实的朋友。”
 

 
Fingering Fake Whiskeys with Isotopes
 
“It came to our attention a few years ago that there were fraudulent whiskeys on the market.”Gordon Cook of the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Center.
 
“Scotch whiskey is Scotland’s product, and we felt that being a radiocarbon laboratory in Scotland, we should take a lead on this.”
 
Scotch whiskey is made from barley, which absorbs carbon dioxide from the air as it grows. Most of the carbon is carbon-12. But a small percentage is the radioactive isotope carbon-14, which decays at a constant, known rate— and has therefore long been used to “carbon-date” biological samples.
 
“Then, in the early 1950s, we had the start of the atmospheric weapons test, and these produce carbon-14. By 1960, you were twice the natural level. And ’63—there was a test ban treaty, so ’63 was the maximum. Since then, the level in the atmosphere has decreased as the radiocarbon goes into the biota and the oceans.”
 
So unusually high levels of carbon-14 are associated with barley grown during the years when nuclear testing was widespread.
 
There’s obviously a lot of money in whiskey. And some classics get bought not as imbibements but as investments. Last October, a 60-year-old 1926 bottle was auctioned off for $1.9 million.
 
To make sure that the stuff inside bottles of Scotch whiskey matches what’s on the labels, Cook and his colleagues looked at levels of the carbon-14 in the drink. They calibrated levels of the radioactive variant of carbon in more than 200 different single-malt Scotch whiskey samples of known ages. The researchers then compared those levels to eight whiskeys claiming to have been bottled from 1847 to 1978.
 
“We haven’t found any whiskeys purported to be from the 19th century that are genuine.”
 
Because those allegedly 19th-century bottles contained material clearly produced during the nuclear-testing era. The study is in the journal Radiocarbon.
 
Cook hopes these verification techniques will help keep the whiskey business true to the words of Robert Burns: “Here’s a bottle and an honest friend.”


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