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来源:中国对话    发布时间:2019年09月20日 03:51:29    编辑:admin         

For lifeless chemical compounds to organize themselves into something alive, scientists generally agree, three sets of things must be present:科学家基本公认,无生命的化学物质自行组合形成生命,需要具备三个前提条件: Standing water and an energy source. 静态水和能量来源。 Five basic elements: carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, phosphorus and nitrogen. 五种基本元素:碳、氧、氢、磷和氮。 And time, lots of time. 还有时间,漫长的时间。In its search for environments where life might have started on Mars, the Curiosity rover has found the standing water, the energy and the key elements with the right atomic charges. As a result, scientists have concluded that at least some of the planet must have been habitable long ago.在寻找火星上适宜生命的环境的过程中,“好奇号”火星探测车找到了静态水、能源和原子电量正好合适的基本元素。据此,科学家得出结论,火星上至少有些地方在很久以前是适宜生命存在的。But the period when all conditions were right was counted in hundreds to thousands of years, a very small opening by origin-of-life standards.但在火星历史上,所有这些条件都具备的时间跨度大约是几百到几千年,而以生命起源的标准衡量,那实在不过是转瞬之间。That has now changed. John P. Grotzinger of Caltech, the project scientist for the mission, reported at a news conference on Monday that the rover’s yearlong trek to Mount Sharp provided strong new evidence that Gale Crater had large lakes, rivers and deltas, on and off, for millions to tens of millions of years. The geology shows that even when the surface water dried up, plenty of water would have remained underground, he said.不过,现在有了新发现。负责“好奇号”火星项目的加州理工科学家约翰·P·格罗青格(John P. Grotzinger)周一(12月8日——译注)在新闻发布会上宣布,“好奇号”向着夏普峰历时一年的跋涉发现了有力的新据,明盖尔环形山曾有大型湖泊、河流和三角洲,而且这些地貌断断续续存在的时间有数百万到数千万年之间。他说,已知的火星地理特征说明,即使是在地表水干涸的时候,也有地下水存在。Moreover, the team concluded, numerous deltalike and lakelike formations detected by orbiting satellites are almost certainly the dried remains of substantial ancient lakes and deltas. None of this proves that life existed on the planet, but the case for an early Mars that was ripe and y for life has grown stronger.此外,科学家团队还得出结论,环绕火星的卫星发现大量类三角洲或类湖泊地貌,几乎可以肯定就是古代湖泊和三角洲干涸之后的遗迹。这些均不能明火星上曾有生命,但早期火星适宜生命存在的可能性极大地增强了。“As a science team, Mars is looking very attractive to us as a habitable planet,” Dr. Grotzinger said in an interview. “Not just sections of Gale Crater and not just a handful of locations, but at different times around the globe.”“对于我们科学团队来说,火星作为一个生命宜居行星,显得十分诱人,”格罗青格说。“不仅是在盖尔环形山,也不仅是有限几个地点,而是在不同历史时期遍布火星各处。”And John M. Grunsfeld, a former astronaut who is NASA’s associate administrator for science, said that after almost 28 months on Mars, Curiosity has given scientists insight into how and where to look for clues of ancient life. “We don’t know if life ever started on Mars, but if it did, we now have a better chance of discovering it” on future missions, he said.美国国家航空航天局(NASA)科学副总监、前宇航员约翰·M·格伦斯菲尔德(John M. Grunsfeld)也说,“好奇号”在火星的近28个月让科学家学到很多东西,知道该怎样寻找古代生命的线索,以及到哪里去找。“我们不知道火星上是否曾有生命起源,但如果有的话,我们[在今后探索任务中]发现它的机会更大了,”他说。Another missing piece of the story has been the inability to detect organic compounds — the carbon-based building blocks of life.探索生命起源的过程中另一个缺失的环节是一直没有找到有机化合物——构成生命的碳基元件。That too may soon change. Last spring, several Curiosity team members reported the detection of some simple organics that appeared to be Martian. The findings were not definitive, but NASA has scheduled a news conference Dec. 14 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union with “new information” about the search for organics. “Our original interpretation — that there was a good chance the organics we were seeing are Martian — hasn’t changed,” said Daniel P. Glavin of the Goddard Spaceflight Center, an author of the earlier paper. “This interpretation will be expanded on at A.G.U.”这一点也可能很快会有突破。今年春季,“好奇号”的几位科学家报告发现了可能是火星上的某些简单有机物。这个发现没有遽下结论,但航天局已经安排了12月14日在美国地球物理学会(American Geophysical Union)年会上召开新闻发布会,发布关于探索火星有机物的“新消息”。那篇论文的作者之一、戈达德航天中心(Goddard Spaceflight Center)的丹尼尔·P·格莱文(Daniel P. Glavin)说:“我们最初的解读——很可能我们发现的就是火星有机物——并没有改变。在U年会上我们会进一步介绍。”Curiosity does not carry life-detection instruments, in large part because there is no consensus on what such an instrument might be. A finding of life based on what at first appeared to be metabolic activity, detected during the Viking missions of 1977, was so controversial that NASA ultimately rejected it. So scientists have been using a variety of tools — from geology and other earth sciences, organic and mineral chemistry, atmospheric measurements and sophisticated cameras — to determine whether life could have arisen and survived in Gale Crater and other locations with similar characteristics.“好奇号”没有搭载生命探测设备,主要是因为究竟该用什么样的设备,科学家没有达成共识。1977年“海盗号”探测器报告发现了生命迹象,基于的是一开始被认为是代谢行为的现象。但那次发现争议很大,航天局最终做出了否定判断。因此,科学家开始用各种工具——包括地质学等地球科学的工具、有机和无机化学、大气探测以及精密摄像机等等——去判断盖尔环形山和其他类似地点是否曾经有生命出现并存活。Another member of the Curiosity team, Roger Summons of M.I.T., says that findings from that rover and previous missions suggest that early Mars may have been quite similar to early Earth.“好奇号”团队的另一名成员、麻省理工的罗杰·萨曼斯(Roger Summons)说,“好奇号”和历史上其他的火星探索显示,早期火星或许和早期地球十分相近。For the first billion years, he said, both planets had stable environments that could support life for substantial periods, and both still share the same chemistry and processes for altering rocks. There is a general scientific consensus that life began on Earth some 3.8 billion years ago, and Dr. Summons said it was clear that the same could have happened on Mars. Or as Dr. Grunsfeld put it, “What I get excited about is imagining a Mars 3.5 to 4 billion years ago, a planet with a thick atmosphere, maybe a blue sky with puffy clouds and mountains and lakes and rivers.”他说,最初的10亿年,两个星球都有稳定的环境,允许生命在相当长的时间里存在。直到今天,地球和火星仍然有相同的化学构成以及促使岩石发生转变的地质过程。科学界基本同意,生命在地球上开始于大约38亿年前。萨曼斯称,很明显同样的事情可能也发生在火星上。或者像格伦斯菲尔德说的那样:“让我激动的是想像一个35到40亿年前的火星,一个包裹在厚厚的大气层中的星球,可能有蓝天白云,有山脉、湖泊和河流。”Many similarities disappeared after Mars, a much smaller planet, lost much of its protective atmosphere by the end of its first billion years. So searching for possible Martian life involves digging deep below the surface or detecting microbial remains billions of years old. Identifying ancient microbial life has proved extremely difficult and controversial on Earth, and the challenge on Mars is considerably greater.在它基本度过第一个10亿年的时候,火星这颗小得多的行星丧失了大部分保护它的大气层,于是很多相似性也消失了。因此,搜寻火星生命就需要深深地挖掘地表下岩层,或者探测几十亿年前的微生物遗迹。在地球上辨识古代微生物极其困难,而且也难令所有人信;在火星上,这种挑战就更大了。For that reason, scientists have long called for a mission to bring rock and soil samples back to Earth for sophisticated analysis. The Mars mission scheduled for 2020 would begin the effort by experimenting with methods to select, lift and store promising samples.因此,科学家一直呼吁把火星岩石和土壤样本带回地球做深入分析。2020年开始的火星计划将开始尝试挑选、提取和储存有希望的样本。But there are no Mars samples now — except those that arrive as long-traveling meteorites — so astrobiologists have to conduct their search for life using other methods and teasing out hidden evidence.但是目前还没有火星样本——除了长途飞行来到地球的陨石——因此,宇宙生物学家只能用其他方法进行寻找生命的工作,梳理出隐藏的线索。The search for water on Mars, for instance, goes back decades and many missions. But scientists were never certain that the carved canyons and deltas were results of water running long ago, or perhaps lava or frozen carbon dioxide. Because of Curiosity, there is now a wide consensus that early Mars had much water.比如,寻找火星水的工作在几十年前的火星计划中就开始了。但科学家一直不能肯定,那些大峡谷和三角洲究竟是古代河流冲刷形成的,还是熔岩或冻结的二氧化碳造成的。多亏了“好奇号”,现在科学家普遍同意,早期火星上有很多水。This conclusion has been difficult to square with climate models, which point to a colder early Mars with a thin atmosphere that could not have supported large bodies of standing water, or rivers that ran for millions of years. But faced with mounting evidence of longstanding water and consequently warmer conditions, the climate scientists have gravitated toward two interwoven explanations — both with implications for early life.这个结论一度很难在火星气候模型中说得通。火星气候模型显示,早期火星冰冷,大气稀薄,不持大量静态水的存在,不可能有流淌了几百万年的河流。但面对越来越多的关于持续存在的水源和由此导致的温暖环境的据,气候学家开始倾向于两种互相交叉的解释——两种解释都意味着可能有早期生命存在。The first is that frequent volcanoes and meteorite impacts heated the planet substantially; volcanoes also emit gases known to synthesize into organic compounds. The second is that to explain the substantial water cycle required to keep many Martian lakes filled and rivers flowing, the planet needed a substantial ocean in its northern half. Large swaths of Mars north of its equator are one to three miles lower than the so-called southern highlands, and scientists have proposed that an ocean may have filled and molded the vast depression. Others disagree on several grounds, including that no remnant shoreline has been detected.第一种解释是,频繁的火山活动和陨石撞击让星球大幅升温;火山也会释放出气体,能合成有机化合物。第二个解释是,火星要维持水循环,让火星湖泊和河流成为可能,那么在北半球就应该有一大片海洋。火星赤道以北的大片区域比通称的南方高地要低一到三英里。科学家提出假设,北半球可能有古代海洋,塑造了广袤的低地。也有人不同意,基于好几条理由,包括没有探测到海岸线的遗迹。“We don’t have hard evidence of a northern ocean, but our models require that much water to explain what the geologists have now confirmed,” said Michael A. Mischna of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, another Curiosity team member. “What Curiosity has done is to bring together atmospheric and climate information with the findings of the geologists and geochemists, and created a broad and consistent story of a very wet early Mars.”“我们没有发现北半球海洋的确凿据,但我们的模型要求有一大片水体,这样才能解释目前地质学家已经实的结论,”“好奇号”团队成员、喷气推进实验室(Jet Propulsion Laboratory)的迈克尔·A·米什纳(Michael A. Mischna)说。“好奇号的工作就是将大气与气候信息,和地质学家与地质化学家的发现整合起来,构建一个大跨度、可以自圆其说的理论,描述一个非常湿润的早期火星。”While the evidence for water has become increasingly clear, the question of organic compounds is in flux. Such chemicals fall onto Mars all the time in interstellar dust and meteorites, as they do onto Earth. Yet none have been definitively detected.关于水的据已经越来越清楚了,但有关有机化合物的疑问还有一大堆。这类物质不断以星际尘埃和陨石的形式落到火星上,就像落在地球上一样,但目前还从来没有被确凿地发现。But on this mission, team members knew to look for a salt called perchlorate that has been demonstrated on Earth to destroy or transform organics in the presence of heat. Substantial amounts of perchlorate were found in Gale Crater, suggesting that if early Mars had organic chemicals and they survived eons of radiation bombardment, they are long since gone or they will remain very difficult to detect with current techniques.不过在这次火星探索中,科学家知道应该寻找一种叫做高氯酸盐的无机物。在地球上,高氯酸盐被明可以在高温下破坏有机物,或者促使有机物转化。在盖尔环形山上发现了大量高氯酸盐。这意味着,如果早期火星存在有机物,而且它们没有被持续的宇宙辐射消灭,那么它们现在也早就不存在了,或者用现有的技术很难发现。The Sample Analysis at Mars instrument is designed to identify relatively simple organics that burn off as gases in its oven. But it also carries nine cups with a solvent that can alter more complex molecules (like amino acids and nucleic acids) in ways that protect their signature.火星样本分析设备是用来识别相对简单的有机物的。这些有机物将在它的烤炉内作为气体燃尽。但它也带有九个杯子,盛着一种溶剂,可以转化更复杂的分子(比如氨基酸和核酸)同时保护它们的化学特征。This “wet chemistry” has been awaiting the finding of a sample rich in organics. A further problem is that one of its cups leaked, causing enormous headaches and making team leaders wary.这种“湿化学”技术一直还在等待富含有机物的样本被发现。另一个问题是设备的其中一只杯子发生了泄漏,制造了大麻烦,让团队负责人不放心。But Dr. Glavin, a member of the team, hopes the spilled solvent will itself be used to test previously collected Martian samples, making it the first wet-chemistry experiment ever on another planet.但团队成员格莱文希望,溢洒的溶剂可以被用来测试之前采集的火星样本,那将是外星球进行的第一次湿化学试验。Clearly, the search for life on Mars — past or present — will be neither straightforward nor swift.很显然,寻找火星生命——无论是古代生命还是现今的生命——不会是一帆风顺,也不可能马上成功。 /201412/348795。

When Samantha Du returned to her native China in 2001 with a mission to build a pharmaceuticals company, the move seemed like a terrible mistake. 当2001年杜莹(Samantha Du)带着创建一家制药公司的使命回到祖国时,她的举动似乎像是一个可怕的错误。 She had left behind a comfortable life in the US where she spent the previous 12 years, first as an academic scientist and later in roles of rising seniority at Pfizer. Back in China, she felt like an alien in her own country as she tried to start her venture. 她放弃了在美国的优渥生活。她在那里已经生活了12年,先是读士,后来在辉瑞(Pfizer)工作,期间不断获得晋升。回到中国,当她设法自己创业时,她反倒感觉自己像一个外国人。 The nadir came during a business meeting in which the refreshments came in the form of hard liquor. She recalls: “Everyone drank until they fell asleep. Then they woke up and signed the contract. While they were sleeping I left the room and cried. I had left a great career and a big house in rural Connecticut. Now here I was negotiating with drunk people.” 最糟糕的时刻是在一次商务会谈期间——提神饮品只有烈性酒。她回忆道:“每个人都喝到睡着。醒来之后,他们就把合同签了。在他们睡着时,我走出房间哭了一场。我舍弃了一份很有前途的事业,还有恬静的康涅狄格州的大房子。现在,我却在和一群醉汉谈判。” Several times she came close to quitting but was dissuaded by business partners. Fifteen years later, her persistence appears to be working. As, first, chief scientific officer of Hutchison China MediTech and now chief executive of Zai Lab, she is prominent among a wave of biotech entrepreneurs aiming to modernise China’s pharma industry and make the country a force in drug development. 好几次她都差点放弃,但是被合伙人劝止住。15年后,她的坚持似乎正在带来回报。她先是担任和黄中国医药科技(Hutchison China MediTech)首席科技官,现在任生物科技公司再鼎医药(Zai Lab)首席执行官。在一批有志于推动中国医药产业现代化并使中国在药物开发领域崭露头角的生物技术创业者中,她是突出的一员。 Most of them are “sea turtles” — the name given to Chinese professionals trained in the west who have returned home armed with qualifications and experience. All nine of Zai Lab’s top management studied at US universities. They have been drawn home by rapidly improving opportunities in China’s life science sector as Beijing pumps resources into its quest for a more innovative, high-value economy. 他们大都是“海龟(归)”——在西方深造过,带着文凭和经验回国的专业人才。再鼎医药的9名高管全都曾在美国大学里深造过。随着北京方面投入大量资源、寻求将中国经济打造得更具创新性和高附加值,中国生命科学领域的机遇快速增多,将他们吸引回国。 After a PhD in biochemistry at the University of Cincinnati, Ms Du joined Pfizer as a research scientist and ended up in charge of licensing some of the US group’s drugs around the world. She had not thought about leaving until a call came from Hutchison Whampoa, the holding company of Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, inviting her to head a new pharma enterprise. “They said, ‘You have aly achieved so much in the US. Why not come back and do something for China?’” 在美国辛辛那提大学(University of Cincinnati)获得生物化学士学位后,杜莹加入了辉瑞担任研究科学家,最终做到主管该公司部分药物在全球的授权工作。她从未想过离开辉瑞,直至接到来自和记黄埔(Hutchison Whampoa)——香港大亨李嘉诚(Li Ka-shing)的控股公司——的一个电话,邀请她掌舵一家新的制药公司。“他们说,‘你在美国已经取得这么多成绩。为什么不回来为中国做些事呢’?” With the resources of one of Asia’s richest men behind her, she criss-crossed China looking for assets to build a company around. It did not prove an easy task. Instead of hidden scientific gems, Ms Du found a domestic industry more interested in eking out margins from cheap generic drugs than investing in research and development. “The mindset was all about trading rather than innovation,” she recalls. 在这位亚洲富豪的雄厚资源持下,她遍访中国各地,寻找成立一家公司所需的各种资产。事实明,这并非一项简单的工作。杜莹发现,相较于投资研发、发现隐藏的科学宝藏,国内医药产业对于从廉价仿制药中赚取利润更感兴趣。“大家在想的都是如何进行交易,而非创新,”她回忆道。 Gradually, however, China MediTech, or Chi-Med, began building its own Ramp;D capabilities in partnership with western drugmakers including Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca. The company floated on London’s Aim stock market in 2006 and is planning a dual listing on Nasdaq this month as it pushes two cancer drugs through late-stage trials, with five other products in earlier studies. 然而,逐渐地,和黄医药开始与礼来(Eli Lilly)和阿斯利康(AstraZeneca)等西方制药商合作,建立自主研发能力。2006年,该公司在伦敦交所的第二板交易市场(AIM)上市,并计划本月在纳斯达克(Nasdaq)完成第二上市。该公司有两种抗癌药物正在进行后期临床试验,另外还有5种产品处于早期研究阶段。 Ms Du left Chi-Med in 2011 to take charge of Chinese healthcare investments for Sequoia Capital, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm, before founding Zai Lab in 2013. The company has licensed experimental treatments from big pharma partners including Sanofi and Bristol-Myers Squibb, but Ms Du’s long-term focus is on developing homegrown drugs. Zai in January raised 0m in private finance from Sequoia and other big international investors and recently opened an Ramp;D base in Shanghai. “We want to be the first Chinese biotech company with global standing,” says Ms Du. 杜莹于2011年离开和黄医药,之后加入硅谷风险投资公司红杉资本(Sequoia Capital),负责在华医疗投资业务,在2013年创立再鼎医药。再鼎医药从赛诺菲(Sanofi)和百时美施贵宝(Bristol-Myers Squibb)等大型制药商伙伴那里,获得了一些处于临床试验阶段的药物的授权,但杜莹的长期目标在于研发本土药物。今年1月,再鼎医药从红杉资本及其他大型国际投资机构处筹集了1亿美元,并于近期在上海设立了研发基地。“我们希望成为中国首家享誉全球的生物技术公司,”杜莹说。 She is hardly alone in that ambition. BeiGene, a company founded by Xiaodong Wang, former professor of biomedical science at the University of Texas, last month raised 8m on Nasdaq to accelerate development of four promising cancer drugs. 拥有此等雄心的人不止她一个。前德克萨斯大学(University of Texas)生物医学教授王晓东创办了生物科技公司百济神州(BeiGene),该公司上月在纳斯达克筹得1.58亿美元,用于加快4种很有前景的抗癌药物的研发。 Perhaps the most successful “sea turtle” in China’s life science sector is Ge Li, who earned his doctorate at Columbia University and became a biotech entrepreneur in the US before returning home to found WuXi AppTec 15 years ago. The company has since become the biggest Chinese contract research organisation, performing Ramp;D and manufacturing for many of the world’s biggest pharma groups. 中国生命科学领域最成功的“海龟”,或许要数在哥伦比亚大学(Columbia University)获得士学位的李革。他在美国时已是一名生物技术创业者,15年前回国创办了无锡药明康德(WuXi AppTec)。该公司如今已成为中国最大的研发外包机构,为许多世界顶级医药集团提供研发和生产务。 About 5 per cent of WuXi AppTec’s 10,000-strong workforce was trained overseas. 在药明康德的1万多名员工中,约5%曾在海外深造。 Among them is Hongye Sun, who studied at Harvard and spent a decade with a Californian biotech company before being lured back to run WuXi’s genomic sequencing business. Mr Sun says the biggest difference with the US is the speed of decision making. 孙洪业就是其中之一。他曾就读于哈佛大学(Harvard),在加州一家生物科技公司工作过10年,后来被吸引回国,负责药明康德的基因组测序业务。孙洪业说,这里与美国最大不同在于决策的速度。 “In America it felt like I needed 60 meetings to get something done, whereas here I need four.” “在美国感觉需要开60次会议才能搞定的事,在这里只需要开4次会。” WuXi AppTec has tried to harness the vigour of Chinese business culture while importing the quality standards learnt by its top scientists in the west. “We have 15 minutes of compliance training every morning,” says Mr Sun. “We tell our people, ‘We cannot afford a single mistake because if something goes wrong it could ruin the company in a day’”. 药明康德试图在利用中国商业文化活力的同时,引入公司顶级科学家在西方学到的质量标准。“我们每天上午要进行15分钟的合规培训,”孙洪业说,“我们告诉员工,‘我们一丁点儿错误都无法承受,因为如果出现错误,就可能让公司毁于一旦’。” While returnees are leading the development of China’s biotech sector, they are increasingly drawing from an expanding local talent pool to build their businesses. China overtook the US in 2008 as the world’s biggest producer of PhDs, and the number has continued to grow rapidly. 虽然海归们引领着中国生物技术行业的发展,但他们正日益从不断扩大的本土人才库中发掘人才,来发展自己的业务。2008年,中国超过美国成为世界培养士最多的国家,而中国士的数量还在继续快速增长。 Critics question whether the increasing volume is matched by quality. Mr Sun says standards at the top Chinese universities are high, with fierce competition for entry. But he concedes that locally trained scientists can be too deferential. 批评人士质疑,在数量增加的同时,中国士的素质是否跟得上。孙洪业说,中国顶尖高校的标准很高,入学竞争非常激烈。但他也承认,中国本土培养的科学家过于恭顺。 “I tell employees to argue with me and call me by my name, not my title. I tell them, ‘If you use my title, you are less likely to tell me the truth’.” “我告诉员工可以跟我争论,直呼我的名字,而不是我的头衔。我告诉他们,‘如果你们叫我的头衔,就不太可能跟我说实话’。” With soaring numbers of scientists, rising investment in Ramp;D and growing demand for medicines from an ageing population, China has all the ingredients for growth in its biotech sector. Ms Du and others like her are aiming to replicate the success of US companies such as Genentech and Amgen, which suddenly appeared in the 1980s to become forces in global pharma. 中国生物技术行业增长的条件已经全部具备:科学家数量激增、研发投资增多、日益老龄化的人口对药品的需求日益增长。杜莹与其他像她一样的创业者的目标是,复制像基因泰克(Genentech)和安进(Amgen)等美国公司那样的成功,这两家公司在上世纪80年代横空出世,迅速在全球制药行业崭露头角。 As a service provider to local and foreign companies alike, WuXi AppTec is well placed to assess progress. Steve Yang, the company’s chief operating officer and a veteran of AstraZeneca, Pfizer and the University of California, urges caution. 药明康德同时为国内、外制药公司提供务,应该有资格评估中国在制药领域取得的进展。但该公司首席运营官杨青(Steve Yang)呼吁保持谨慎。杨青毕业于加州大学(University of California),曾在阿斯利康、辉瑞担任高管。 “There is a group of Chinese companies that are well positioned, but how many years did it take for the world to appreciate Genentech? It took decades. The race is on, but it’s still very early.” “现在有不少中国企业发展势头很好,但基因泰克用了多少年才获得全世界的认可?几十年。中国已经加入竞赛,但输赢还远未见分晓。” /201603/431236。

Alibaba Group announced Monday that it invested 0 million in one of China’s lesser-known smartphone makers, Meizu, a company with small market share but a long history as one of the country’s smartest device makers. In the 2000s it turned out popular Mp3 players and one of China’s first smartphones it called an iPhone-killer.阿里巴巴集团周一宣布,对魅族投资5.9亿美元。尽管魅族在中国知名度和市场份额较弱,但在很长一段时间内,魅族是国内最聪敏的电子设备制造商之一。在本世纪的头十年里,魅族推出过热门MP3播放器和中国最早的智能手机之一,当时该公司将其称为“iPhone杀手”。The big investment, which earned Alibaba a minority but undisclosed stake in Meizu, comes eight months after Alibaba bought outright China’s largest mobile browser company, UCWeb. That purchase was the first signal that Alibaba wanted a piece of China’s booming smartphone landscape.这笔巨额投资让阿里巴巴获得了魅族的少数股份,但具体数量尚未披露。8个月前,阿里巴巴整体收购了中国最大的移动浏览器公司优视科技。此举是阿里巴巴意欲分食中国蓬勃发展的智能手机市场的首个信号。China’s more than 550 million smartphone users represent a lucrative market. Apple’s iPhone and products, for instance, were recently named the top luxury gift to give someone in Mainland China. Xiaomi, the most successful of China’s dozens of smartphone startups, raised money at a billion valuation late last year to become the highest-valued private startup in the world—after only selling phones since 2011.在中国,智能手机用户超过5.5亿,是一个利润丰厚的市场。举例来说,苹果公司的iPhone等产品最近被评为中国大陆首选高档礼物。在中国的十几家初创智能手机厂商中,最成功的是小米。在于去年年底完成融资后,小米的估值达到了460亿美元,成为世界上价值最高的私人初创企业,而它从2011年才开始销售智能手机。“The (Meizu) investment like any other is ‘future betting’ on a company which has some promise and could be a dark-horse in the smartphone race,” says Counterpoint Research director Neil Shah. “Alibaba is essentially locking-in cool and bright brands to expand its ecosystem with its investment spree.”市场研究公司Counterpoint Research董事尼尔o沙哈认为:“这次(对魅族的)投资和其他类似行为都是在‘押注未来’,而押注的对象是有一定前途,而且可能在智能手机竞争中成为黑马的公司。实际上,阿里巴巴斥巨资锁定了一些很酷、很抢眼的品牌,以扩张自己的生态系统。”It’s also catching up with the competition. Rival Tencent has a partnership with Xiaomi through their mutual stake in software maker Kingsoft and Qihoo, another Chinese Internet player specializing in security, invested 0 million in Shenzhen-based smartphone maker Coolpad in December. By those standards, Alibaba has been behind the game.同时,阿里巴巴在竞争中正迎头赶上。它的对手腾讯已经通过参股金山软件以及奇虎360和小米成为合作伙伴,并于去年12月向深圳智能手机厂商酷派投资4亿美元。如果以此为标准,阿里巴巴已经处于落后位置。Alibaba said its mobile operating system, YunOS, will be integrated into Meizu’s phones that now run on Google’s free Android operating system. A handful of tiny Chinese smartphone makers use YunOS, but the system is basically unknown in China where 80% of smartphones run on Android. In pushing its own operating system, Alibaba is taking a page from Amazon’s playbook and creating a platform on which consumers are seamlessly plugged into its shopping and entertainment sites through their phone. (Only Alibaba isn’t taking the concept quite as far as Amazon—it will leave building the phones to Meizu.)魅族手机目前使用免费的谷歌安卓操作系统。阿里巴巴表示,它的阿里云OS移动操作系统将集成到魅族手机中。有几家很小的中国手机厂商使用阿里云OS,但该系统在国内基本处于默默无闻状态——中国80%的智能手机都使用安卓系统。推广自己的操作系统是阿里巴巴对亚马逊Kindle Fire业务的借鉴。由此,阿里巴巴可以打造一个平台,让消费者的手机和阿里巴巴的购物和网站实现无缝对接(只不过阿里巴巴在这方面没有亚马逊走的那么远,它把制造手机的工作留给了魅族)。“The investment in Meizu represents a significant expansion of the Alibaba Group ecosystem,” said Jian Wang, Chief Technology Officer of Alibaba, in a statement. An Alibaba spokeswoman declined to comment more on the deal.阿里巴巴首席技术官王坚在一份声明中表示,“投资魅族代表着阿里巴巴集团生态系统的一次大规模扩张。”该公司女发言人拒绝对这次投资发表其他。While Alibaba gets a new (bigger) host for its operating system, Meizu gets a shot at greater sales across Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms, which can spell life or death for brands. On the biggest online shopping day last year in China, Single’s Day in November, when Alibaba’s platforms become the de facto shopping destinations, Xiaomi sold 0 million worth of phones in 24 hours. A Meizu spokesperson said the investment will help the company get more aggressive in pricing and product lines to reach its sales goal of 20 million phones this year.阿里巴巴为自己的操作系统找到了新的(而且是更大的)使用者,魅族则有机会通过阿里巴巴的一系列电子商务平台提高自己的销售规模,这对一些品牌来说是生死攸关的大事。去年双十一期间,阿里巴巴的电商平台成为网购首选,小米手机则在24小时内实现了2.5亿美元的销售额。魅族发言人称,这次投资将让魅族在定价和产品线方面变得更大胆,从而实现今年2000万美元的手机销售目标。A strong comeback for Meizu, using Alibaba’s operating system, could resurrect an old fight. More than two years ago Google protested that YunOS, also known as Aliyun, was ripping off Android’s source code. When Acer announced a phone based on the operating system, after Acer had agreed not to ship “non-compatible” Android versions, Google cried foul. Alibaba responded that its engineers spent three years developing the operating system. Acer’s phone was never released.借助阿里巴巴的操作系统,魅族强势回归,而这有可能再次点燃熄灭已久的战火。两年多以前,谷歌曾指责阿里云OS使用了安卓源代码。当时宏碁(Acer)宣布将推出基于阿里云OS的手机,谷歌随即表示强烈抗议,理由是宏碁已经同意不采用“非兼容”的安卓版本。阿里巴巴则回应称,阿里云OS由自己的技术人员用了三年时间开发而成。但基于阿里云OS 的宏碁手机并未上市。The arguments haven’t been raised since. But Shah of Counterpoint says for Meizu, the Alibaba tie-up “could significantly improve its product portfolio, retail presence and overall visibility for its products.” That greater visibility could also bring renewed scrutiny from Google.从那以后,这一战事便淡出了人们的视线。但Counterpoint Research董事沙哈指出,阿里巴巴携手魅族“可能极大地改善阿里巴巴的产品结构和零售市场布局,以及产品的整体清晰度”。而更高的产品清晰度有可能再次引起谷歌的关注。For now, Alibaba’s 0 million splurge on Monday earns the e-commerce giant a play in smartphones and makes the China market even more competitive than it was.眼下,这笔5.9亿美元的巨额投资让这家电商巨擘在智能手机领域获得了一席之地,也让中国市场的竞争变得比以前更加激烈。(财富中文网) /201502/359897。

Robotic. That is what the voice message on Jon Briggs’s phone sounds like. It is not the delivery, which is perfectly human. But because his voice is on so many technological applications, most notably on Siri, the iPhone’s personal assistant, his voice, which is so familiar, seems synonymous with technology.机器腔。乔恩#8226;布里格斯(Jon Briggs)手机里的语音信息听起来就是这种感觉。这倒不是指其说话的方式,那个听起来和真人一模一样。原因在于太多科技应用都使用了他的声音,最有名的就是iPhone上的个人助理Siri。他的声音听起来如此熟悉,好像已经和技术划上了等号。Friends often complain they cannot get rid of him. His voice is on their satnav and on automated telephone systems. One friend recently heard a chorus of Mr Briggs’s voice coming from their daughter’s room; upon investigation they discovered all the animated penguins on her game app spoke with his voice. Most disturbing for Mr Briggs, was when he received a phone call from himself trying to flog payment protection insurance.布里格斯的朋友们常常抱怨他们无法摆脱他。他们的卫星导航系统和自动电话系统都用了布里格斯的声音。最近,他一个朋友听到女儿房间里传出一阵阵布里格斯的声音;调查一番后才发现,原来女儿游戏应用里的所有卡通企鹅讲话用的都是布里格斯的声音。最令布里格斯气恼的是,他还接到过用他的声音来向他推销付保护险的电话。An offer of work to provide the voice for Reading’s bus service was rescinded, he claims, after local employer, Microsoft, discovered that the voice of a competitor, Apple, might be escorting its employees to work.布里格斯说,他还曾失去一份为雷丁(Reading)公交车配音的工作邀约,因为当地雇主微软(Microsoft)发现,伴随其雇员上下班的或许将是其竞争对手苹果(Apple)的声音。In fact, the 50-year-old’s voice was dropped by Apple three years ago after he disclosed that he was the person behind the UK version of Siri. Apple has not confirmed any of the various voices used for Siri and declined to comment for this article.实际上,自从3年前,现年50岁的布里格斯发文章披露自己是英国版Siri的配音者以后,苹果就不再使用他的声音。苹果从未实过各版本Siri语音的来源,并拒绝对布里格斯的文章发表。“Apple would have stamped on me very swiftly if I was claiming something that was untrue,” says Mr Briggs. “I have a very good reputation of over 30 years work as a [voiceover artist] and claiming something like that falsely would ruin that reputation totally.”“如果我所说的有什么不实之处,苹果早就立刻制止我了,” 布里格斯说,“从事配音工作30年来,我的声誉一直非常好,说那样的假话会让我身败名裂。”The notoriously secretive tech company was foolish, believes Mr Briggs, for thinking his identity would never be revealed. “Apple got upset but if [it is] going to put you in the pocket of millions of people how can they not expect you to reply when they ask, ‘Is it you?’ Other people recognised me#8201;.#8201;.#8201;.#8201;It’s an act of complete imbecility not to think someone would recognise you.” The company might be a whizz with technology and design, says Mr Briggs, who is also a broadcast journalist and presenter, but they are “not very good with people”.布里格斯认为,以事事保密而著称的苹果公司,认为他的身份永远不会暴露,这是很愚蠢的。“苹果很不高兴,但是假如把你放进数百万人的口袋里,当人们问起来‘这是你么?’,他们怎会预计不到会有一个答复?还有人都听出来是我了……觉得没人能听出来是我,这种想法实在蠢到家了。” 同时也身兼电视新闻记者和主持人的他表示,苹果公司或许是技术和设计方面的奇才,但他们“不太擅长与人打交道”。In any case, Mr Briggs had not signed a contract with Apple. The work was originally done for Scansoft, he claims, which has since merged with Nuance, a software and technology company. The text-to-speech service was recorded over three weeks: 5,000 sentences delivered in a flat, even way. These were later taken away and dissected so that the phonics could be reassembled in new sentences in response to any question the user poses. Aside from asking Siri predictable questions about locations of restaurants or the day’s weather forecast, there is pleasure to be found demanding “who let the dogs out”, or “the best place to bury a body”.布里格斯从未和苹果签订过任何合同。他说,这份工作原本是为Scansoft而做的。Scansoft后来和软件技术公司Nuance合并。这个文本转语音务中的所有语音都是在3周内录制完成的:用平和的声音匀速念5000个句子。这些句子之后会被抽取并分解,这样语音就可以重新组合成新的句子,来回答用户提出的任何问题。除了问Siri一些可预见的问题,比如餐厅的位置或者当天的天气预报,要求Siri回答“谁把放了出来”,或者“哪里最适合埋尸体”也很有意思。Scott Brave, the co-author of Wired for Speech: How Voice Activates and Advances the HumanComputer Relationship , notes that users imbue technology with human attributes. “We respond socially to the voice even when we know it’s a machine,” he says. He cites the example of BMW, which had to recall German cars installed with its navigation system. Male drivers objected to taking directions from a woman’s voice.《连线语音:电子语音如何激发和深化人机关系》(Wired for Speech: How Voice Activates and Advances the Human Computer Relationship)一书的作者斯科特#8226;布雷夫(Scott Brave)提出,是用户给技术注入了人性。他说,“即使我们知道那是机器的声音,我们还是会像对待人一样回应它。”他以宝马(BMW)为例,由于男性司机不愿听从女性声音的指示,宝马不得不召回安装了女声导航系统的德国车。More generally, he says, dominant personalities prefer to have submissive-sounding machines.布雷夫表示,总的来说,配型的人更青睐听上去很从的机器。Mr Briggs loves Siri and uses it all the time, particularly to schedule appointments. “It’s very clear.” He thinks it is an important breakthrough for those who cannot or have poor sight.布里格斯很喜欢Siri,一直在使用它,尤其用来安排日程。“它非常明了,”布里格斯认为,对于那些无法阅读或者视力较差的人来说,这是一个重大突破。This view is not shared by Susan Bennett, the former US voice of Siri. (Ed Primeau, a forensic audiologist has analysed her voice and confirms that it was used in an older version of Siri).前一版美国Siri的配音苏珊#8226;本内特(Susan Bennett)则不同意这一观点。(声音鉴定专家埃德#8226;普里莫(Ed Primeau)对本内特的声音进行了分析,确定她就是老版Siri的配音)。The 65-year-old confesses she found listening to Siri a bit creepy. It was not that she hated hearing herself — that is an everyday occurrence for the voice recording artist. She is used to hearing her voice over tannoys at airports and stores, as well as telephone on-hold systems. She is her son’s bank’s automated voice and it tickles her to assume that voice and taunt him by saying: “Thank you for calling the bank. You are overdrawn.”现年65岁的本内特坦言,她觉得听Siri说话有些怪异。倒不是说她讨厌听自己的声音——这对配音工作者来说是家常便饭。她已经习惯了听到自己的声音从机场和商场的扩音系统,以及电话接线系统中传出。她儿子所在的自动语音也是她配的。她常用“感谢致电本,您已透”那样的腔调逗他儿子,觉得这样非常有趣。It was interacting with herself that felt so peculiar. “It was very strange having my voice coming back to me from my hand. I said, ‘Hi Siri, what are you doing?’ Siri said, disgustedly: ‘Talking to you.’” Why did the company choose her? “They wanted an otherworldly voice and had to have a sense that the voice would have a dry sense of humour — I don’t think the new voice has that quality.” The identities behind Siri’s voices on newer operating systems (iOS7 and iOS8) are unknown.让她觉得别扭的地方是与她自己互动。“听着自己的声音从手里传回来相当怪异。我说,‘嗨,Siri,你做什么呢?’Siri回答:‘跟你聊天啊。’这真让人别扭。”苹果为什么选择她呢?“他们想要一种超凡脱俗的声音,还要带点冷幽默感——我觉得新版Siri的声音还不够格。”目前还不知道给新操作系统(iOS7和iOS8)的Siri做配音的人是谁。Secretly, the Atlanta-based Ms Bennett is rather pleased to no longer be the “voice of Big Brother”, as she refers to Siri. She is far more gloomy about the creep of technology than Mr Briggs.私下里,家住亚特兰大的本内特为自己不再是“老大哥的声音”(Siri)感到相当高兴。对于这项别扭的技术,她比布里格斯悲观的多。Originally a singer for jingles, she was “discovered” one day when the talent — the person who was meant to do the advertisement’s voiceover — failed to turn up and the studio manager asked her to stand in. “A lightbulb went on in my head” after delivering the lines.本内特本来是一名广告歌歌手,有一天本应为广告配音的人没有来,导演就让她顶上,她因此被“发掘”了。读完台词后,她登时“心头一亮”。The work, she says, has been “fun and creative”. Moreover, “it paid pretty well”.她说,这份工作“有趣又有创意”。更重要的是,“报酬不菲”。The business was changed with the arrival of the web, she says. Suddenly producers could get talent from anywhere in the world. “The internet has devalued things,” she reflects. “Voiceover is no different from any other industry.” Producers can get a voiceover from Fiverr.com, the global online marketplace offering creative services for just a job, she says.随着互联网的到来,这个行业也发生了变化。忽然之间,制作方可以从世界各地招募配音人员了。“互联网让很多东西贬值,”她思考后说道,“配音业也不例外。”她说,制作方可以从创意务全球市场平台Fiverr.com上招募配音人员,每份工作仅需5美元。“As long as you have a microphone you can do it. No one wants professionalism any more. They want the guy next door.” Mr Briggs is more sanguine. “I didn’t have to work for my voice. I was blessed with it.” He believes the shift means the industry is better reflecting a broad range of accents.“只要有个麦克风你就能干。没人再需要专业人士。他们想要的是隔壁小伙儿。”布里格斯更乐观一些,“我不用再靠自己的声音工作了。我有幸得到了我的嗓音。”他认为,这种转变意味着配音业的口音会变得更加广泛多样。Will these two voices of the machine find themselves redundant come the “second machine age”, to use the title of the book describing the jobs revolution (and job losses) triggered by technological advances? Ms Bennett is bleak. “Digital voices will probably replace voiceover artists. The danger is we’re giving our jobs to computers.”借用一本描写由技术进步而导致的岗位革命(以及岗位流失)的书名来说,随着“第二次机器时代”的来临,这两名为机器配音的人会觉得自己变得多余吗?本内特持悲观态度。“电子语音很可能取代配音工作者。危险正是我们把自己的工作交给了电脑。”Mr Briggs is more circumspect. “I don’t think you can replace people yet.” Once machines can emote, things will change, he says. Nonetheless, he is hopeful. “Humans are very adaptable.”布里格斯则更谨慎一些。“我觉得目前人类还无法被取代。”他说,一旦机器能表露感情,事情就不一样了。尽管如此,他依然心存希望。“人类的适应能力很强。” /201503/364062。