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課程來源:TED
     

 

John Lloyd 談看不見的事物大集合

Inventories the invisible

 

 

Photo of
three lions hunting on the Serengeti.

講者:John Lloyd

20097月演講,20099月在TED上線

 

翻譯:洪曉慧

編輯:劉契良

簡繁轉換:陳盈

後製:洪曉慧

字幕影片後制:謝旻均

 

影片請按此下載

閱讀中文字幕純文字版本

 

關於這個演講

在這極其滑稽,妙語如珠,且混合有趣內容的10分鐘內,大自然的奧秘對上了機敏的智慧。身為喜劇演員、作家和電視人的John Lloyd 閒扯了幾件看不見事物的本質。

 

關於John Lloyd

John Lloyd 持續參與製作一些英國最聰敏的電視節目。

 

為什麼要聽他演講:

John Lloyd似乎認識英國每一位聰明和有趣的人,跟他的合作成果都成為傳奇。他已固定為BBC製作節目40多年了,作品包括一些相當經典的喜劇,像是「黑爵士」、「Spitting Image」、BBC版「星際大奇航」,以及近期由Stephen Fry所主持,現已進入第六季的熱門節目「QI」。

 

他還寫了十幾本有趣的書-包括與好友Douglas Adams合著的The Meaning of Liff,該書已屹立出版界達26年。

 

「如果說John Cleese是喜劇教皇,John Lloyd就是樞機主教。他是造王者,因為他是令人難以置信的喜劇才智來源」。

Griff Rhys Jones,《獨立報》

 

John Lloyd 的英語網上資料

網站:John Lloyd's IMDB Web Page(翻譯當時無法連上網站)

 

[TED科技娛樂設計]
已有中譯字幕的TED影片目錄(繁體)(簡體)。請注意繁簡目錄是不一樣的。

 

John Lloyd 談看不見的事物大集合

 

所以,問題是,什麼是看不見的?事實上,比你所想像的多。一切,我會這麼說,一切重要的事,除了每件事及物質之外。

 

我們可以看到物質,但我們不瞭解它是怎麼回事。我最近在《衛報》發現像這樣含糊的句子:「婚姻在1965年時受挫,當丈夫被妻子做掉」(笑聲)。有一個不存在的不可見世界,不是嗎?(笑聲)。

 

我們可以看到恒星和行星,但我們看不到是什麼使它們保持距離,或將它們吸引在一起。不管對物質還是對人來說,我們看到的都只是表面,我們看不到它的內部核心;我們看不到是什麼使人生氣煩惱,至少並非沒有困難。越是近看任何東西,它越是消逝無蹤。事實上,如果你相當近的看某個東西,如果你看物質的基本結構,那裡並沒有任何東西存在。電子以一種模糊的方式消失,只有能量存在。而你看不到能量。

 

因此,所有要緊的事物都是重要的,也都是看不見的。一件看不見而有點蠢的事,就是這個故事,你們看不見它;現在,我要讓你的心看見它。故事是關於一位叫做Geoffrey Dickens的國會議員。

 

前國會議員Geoffrey Dickens出席了一場在其選區的園遊會。不管他到哪裡,不管他在哪個攤位停下,都被一位滿面笑容,但長相超醜的女子緊緊跟隨(笑聲)。他用盡一切可能,都無法擺脫她。幾天後,他收到一封選民的信,說她有多麼崇拜他,曾在園遊會中遇見他,並向他要一張簽名照。在她的名字後,寫在括弧內的是個恰到好處的描述,馬臉(笑聲)。

 

Dickens先生想著「我錯判了這位女子。她不僅意識到自己的醜陋,還把它轉變成本身的優勢。一張照片是不夠的」。於是他出去買了塑膠相框,把照片放進相框內。在照片上,他龍飛鳳舞的寫著:「致馬臉,你誠摯的國會議員Geoffrey Dickens上」。這封信寄出後,他的秘書對他說:「你有收到園遊會上那位女子的信嗎?我在上面註記了馬臉,這樣你才會記得她是誰」。(笑聲)。

 

我敢打賭,他會希望他是隱形的,不是嗎?(笑聲)。

 

關於看不見的事物,其中一件有趣的事,就是對於看不見的事物,我們也就無法理解它。引力是一件我們看不見的事物,我們也不瞭解它。它是在四個基本力中,我們所知最少,也是最弱的力。沒有人真正知道它是什麼,或是它為什麼存在?

 

這只是個人意見。牛頓爵士,史上最偉大的科學家,他認為,耶穌專門為了操縱引力的槓杆而來到世間,這就是他認為耶穌來到世間目的。聰明的傢伙,這回可能錯了,我可不知道(笑聲)。

 

意識。我看到你們所有人的面孔,我不知道你們任何一位在想什麼。這不是很令人吃驚嗎?我們無法讀取彼此的心,這不是很令人難以置信嗎?但我們可以碰觸彼此,也許可以品味彼此,如果我們夠靠近的話。但是,我們無法讀取彼此的心。我覺得這非常令人吃驚。

 

偉大的中東宗教-蘇菲信仰,一些人聲稱,它是所有宗教演進的途徑。蘇菲大師都是通靈者,大家都這麼說,但通靈者主要的儀式是發出強大的信號,告訴我們這些其餘的人,它並不存在。所以這就是為什麼我們不認為它存在,蘇菲大師影響了我們。

 

在意識問題和人工智慧方面;人工智慧事實上就像意識研究一樣是徒勞無功的。我們不知道意識如何運作。以人工智慧來說,它們不僅沒有創造出人工智慧,也沒有創造出人工愚蠢(笑聲)。

 

這些物理學定律:無形的、永恆的、無所不在的、全能的,讓你想起什麼人?很有趣。我,你可以猜到,不是一個唯物論者,而是一個非物質論者。我發現一個非常有用的新詞,ignostic。Okay?我是一個 ignostic;我拒絕扯上關於上帝是否存在的問題,直到有人正確定義這個名詞(笑聲)。

 

另一個我們看不見的,是人類基因組。這越變越奇怪。因為大約 20年前,他們開始鑽研基因組時,認為它可能包含大約十萬個基因。遺傳學家都知道這一點,但從那時開始,基因組的數量每年都向下修正。我們現在認為,可能只有超過兩萬個基因存在於人類基因組中。

 

這很令人驚訝。因為水稻,記住喔,水稻已知有三萬八千個基因;馬鈴薯,馬鈴薯有48條染色體。你知道嗎?超過人類的兩倍,跟大猩猩一樣(笑聲)。你看不見這些東西。但它們相當奇怪(笑聲)。

 

白天的恒星,我一直認為這很令人著迷;宇宙消失無蹤。光線越多,你可以看見的越少。

 

時間,沒人能看見時間。我不知道你們是否知道這一點。現代物理學,在現代物理學中有一個大變革,就是決定時間並不真的存在,因為它對計算來說太不方便了。如果它不是真的存在,會容易得多。你看不見未來,這很明顯;你也看不見過去,除了在你的記憶中。

 

關於過去一件有趣的事,就是你尤其看不見過去。有一天我的兒子問我,他說:「爸爸,你還記得我兩歲時的模樣嗎?」我說:「記得啊!」然後他說:「為什麼我記不得?」

 

這不是很令人驚訝嗎?你記不得兩歲或三歲前,那些發生在自己身上的事。這對精神分析學家來說是好消息,否則他們就會失業了。因為所有的事都在那時發生(笑聲),那讓你成為現在的你。

 

另一件你看不見的事物是細胞晶格,就是將人體撐起的東西,這很迷人。你們當中一些人可能知道,細胞是不斷更新的,你可以在皮膚之類的組織中看見它。皮膚脫落,毛髮的生長,指甲等,這一類的東西。但你身體中的每一個細胞,都會在某個時刻被替換。味蕾,每10天左右替換;肝臟和內部器官之類的,需要稍長的時間;脊椎需時數年。但 7年後,在你身體中,沒有任何一個細胞仍然和7年前的那個一樣。問題是,我們到底是誰?我們是什麼?將我們撐起的這個,到底是什麼東西?這確實是我們嗎?

 

Okay。原子,你看不見它們,沒有人看得見。它們比光的波長還小。氣體,你看不見。很有趣,最早在西元1600年時有人提到它,氣體是在西元1600年,由荷蘭化學家海爾蒙特所發明的。據說是有史以來,由一位知名的人所發明的最成功的一個詞,相當不錯。他還發明了一個叫做 blass 的字眼,意思是星界輻射。很不幸,沒人懂(笑聲)。但他做得很好(笑聲)。

 

有很多事物,像是-光,你看不見光。當黑暗時,在真空中,如果有人將一束光直射進你的眼睛,你就看不見它。稍具技術性,一些物理學家可能不同意這個說法。但很奇怪,你看不見光束,你只能看見它所照射的東西。我覺得這非常奇特,看不見光,也看不見黑暗。

 

電力,你看不見它。別聽任何人告訴你說,他們瞭解電,他們才不瞭解。沒有人知道它是什麼(笑聲)。你可能會認為,電線中的電子瞬間在線路中向下移動,不是嗎?以你把燈打開時,光的速度移動。它們才不是,電子跌跌撞撞的在電線中向下移動,大約是蜂蜜擴散的速度,據說是這樣啦(笑聲)。

 

星系,估計在宇宙中有一千億個。一千億,我們可以看見多少個?五個。在一千億個星系中,用肉眼看得見五個。而其中之一相當難見到,除非你有很好的視力。

 

無線電波,這是另一件看不見的事物。赫茲,他在1887年發現無線電波。他稱它們為無線電波,因為它們會輻射。有人對他說:「赫茲,這件事的意義何在?你發現的這些無線電波有什麼用?」他說:「嗯,我也不知道。但我想有一天,會有人發現要怎麼使用它」。這就是他們所做的,無線電,這就是他們所發現的。

 

總之,我們所看不見的最大事物,是我們所不知道的。令人難以置信的是,我們所知是多麼少。愛迪生曾經說過:「我們連任何事物的百萬分之一都還不知道」。

 

我要進行結論了,因為你們問到這另一個問題:「還有其他什麼事物是你看不見的?」重點是,對我們大多數人來說,重點是什麼?(雙關語:點是什麼?)(笑聲)(掌聲)。你看不見一個點。根據定義來說,它是極其微小的,就像是一個電子,這還真奇怪。

 

但關於這一點,我已經認真思考過了,只有兩個問題確實值得一問:「我們為什麼在這裡?」以及「當我們存在時,應該為此做些什麼?」。為了幫助你們,我留給你們兩樣東西,來自於兩位偉大的哲學家,也許是20世紀其中兩位最偉大的哲學思想家。一位是數學家和工程師,另一位是詩人。

 

首先是Ludvig Vitgenštajn,他說:「我不知道我們為什麼在這裡,但我敢肯定不是為了讓自己開心」(笑聲)。他是一個令人愉快的壞蛋,不是嗎?(笑聲)。

 

第二位,也是最後一位,W.H. Auden,我最喜歡的詩人之一。他說:「我們來到塵世間,是為了幫助其他人;但其他人來這裡是為了什麼,我一點也不知道」。(笑聲) (掌聲)。

 

以下為系統擷取之英文原文

About this talk

Nature's mysteries meet tack-sharp wit in this hilarious, 10-minute mix of quips and fun lessons, as comedian, writer and TV man John Lloyd plucks at the substance of several things not seen.

About John Lloyd

John Lloyd helps make some of the cleverest television in the UK. Full bio and more links

Transcript

So the question is, what is invisible? There is more of it than you think, actually. Everything, I would say, everything that matters except every thing, and except matter.

We can see matter. But we can't see what's the matter. As in this cryptic sentence I found in the Guardian recently. "The marriage suffered a setback in 1965 when the husband was killed by the wife." (Laughter) There's a world of invisibility there isn't there? (Laughter)

So we can see the stars and the planets. But we can't see what holds them apart, or what draws them together. With matter, as with people, we see only the skin of things. We can't see into the engine room. We can't see what makes people tick, at least not without difficulty. And the closer we look at anything, the more it disappears. In fact, if you look really closely at stuff, if you look at the basic substructure of matter, there isn't anything there. Electrons disappear in a kind of fuzz, and there is only energy. And you can't see energy.

So everything that matters, that's important, is invisible. One slightly silly thing that's invisible is this story, which is invisible to you. And I'm now going to make it visible to you in your minds. It's about an M.P. called Geoffrey Dickens.

The late Geoffrey Dickens, M.P. was attending a fete in his constituency. Wherever he went, at every stall he stopped he was closely followed by a devoted smiling woman of indescribable ugliness. (Laughter) Try as he might, he couldn't get away from her. A few days later he received a letter from a constituent saying how much she admired him, had met him at a fete and asking for a signed photograph. After her name, written in brackets was the apt description, horse face. (Laughter)

"I've misjudged this women." thought Mr. Dickens. "Not only is she aware of her physical repulsiveness, she turns it to her advantage. A photo is not enough." So he went out and bought a plastic frame to put the photograph in. And on the photograph, he wrote with a flourish, "To Horse Face, with love from Geoffrey Dickens, M.P." After it had been sent off his secretary said to him, "Did you get that letter from the woman at the fete? I wrote Horse Face on her, so you'd remember who she was." (Laughter)

I bet he thought he wished he was invisible, don't you? (Laughter)

So, one of the interesting things about invisibility is that things that we can't see we also can't understand. Gravity is one thing that we can't see, and which we don't understand. It's the least understood of all the four fundamental forces, and the weakest. And nobody really knows what it is or why it's there.

For what it's worth, Sir Issac Newton, the greatest scientist who ever lived, he thought Jesus came to earth specifically to operate the levers of gravity. That's what he thought he was there for. So, bright guy, could be wrong on that one, I don't know. (Laughter)

Consciousness. I see all your faces. I have no idea what any of you are thinking. Isn't that amazing? Isn't that incredible that we can't read each other's minds. But we can touch each other, taste each other perhaps, if we get close enough. But we can't read each other's minds. I find that quite astonishing.

In the Sufi faith, this great Middle-Eastern religion, which some claim is the route of all religions, Sufi masters are all telepaths, so they say. But their main exercise of telepathy is to send out powerful signals to the rest of us that it doesn't exist. So that's why we don't think it exists, the Sufi masters working on us.

In the question of consciousness and artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence has really, like the study of consciousness, gotten nowhere. We have no idea how consciousness works. With artificial intelligence, not only have they not created artificial intelligence, they haven't yet created artificial stupidity. (Laughter)

The laws of physics: invisible, eternal, omnipresent, all powerful. Remind you of anyone? Interesting. I'm, as you can guess, not a materialist, I'm an immaterialist. And I've found a very useful new word, ignostic. Okay? I'm an ignostic. I refuse to be drawn on the question of whether God exists, until somebody properly defines the terms. (Laughter)

Another thing we can't see is the human genome. And this is increasingly peculiar. Because about 20 years ago, when they started delving into the genome, they thought it would probably contain around 100 thousand genes. Geneticists will know this, but every year since, it's been revised downwards. We now think there are likely to be only just over 20 thousand genes in the human genome.

This is extraordinary. Because rice, get this, rice is known to have 38 thousand genes. Potatoes, potatoes have 48 chromosomes. Do you know that? Two more than people. And the same a gorilla. (Laughter) You can't see these things. But they are very strange. (Laughter)

The stars by day. I always think that's fascinating. The universe disappears. The more light there is, the less you can see.

Time, nobody can see time. I don't know if you know this. Modern physics, there is a big movement in modern physics to decide that time doesn't really exist. Because it's to inconvenient for the figures. It's much easier if it's not really there. You can't see the future, obviously. And you can't see the past, except in your memory.

One of the interesting things about the past is you particularly can't see, my son asked me this the other day, he said, "Dad can you remember what I was like when I was two?" And I said "Yes." And he said, "Why can't I?"

Isn't that extraordinary? You can not remember what happened to you earlier than the age of two or three. Which is great news for psychoanalysts. Because otherwise they'd be out of a job. Because that's where all the stuff happens (Laughter) that makes you who you are.

Another thing you can't see is the grid, on which we hang. This is fascinating. You probably know, some of you, that cells are continually renewed. You can see it in skin and this kind of stuff. Skin flakes off, hairs grow, nails, that kind of stuff. But every cell in your body is replaced at some point. Tastebuds, every 10 days or so. Livers and internal organs sort of take a bit longer. A spine takes several years. But at the end of seven years, not one cell in your body remains from what was there seven years ago. The question is, who, then, are we? What are we? What is this thing that we hang on, that is actually us?

Okay. Atoms, you can't see them. Nobody every will. They're smaller than the wavelength of light. Gas, you can't see that. Interesting. Somebody mentioned 1600 recently. Gas was invented in 1600 by a Dutch chemist called Van Helmont. It's said to be the most successful ever invention of a word by a known individual. Quite good. He also invented a word called blass, meaning astral radiation. Didn't catch on, unfortunately. (Laughter) But well done, him. (Laughter)

There is so many things that -- Light. You can't see light. When it's dark, in a vacuum, if a person shines a beam of light straight across your eyes, you won't see it. Slightly technical, some physicists will disagree with this. But it's odd that you can't see the beam of light, you can only see what it hits. I find that extraordinary, not to be able to see light, not to be able to see darkness.

Electricity, you can't see that. Don't let anyone tell you they understand electricity. They don't. Nobody knows what it is. (Laughter) You probably think the electrons in an electric wire move instantaneously down a wire, don't you, at the speed of light when you turn the light on. They don't. Electrons bumble down the wire, about the speed of spreading honey, they say. (Laughter)

Galaxies, 100 billion of them, estimated in the universe. 100 billion. How many can we see? Five. Five, out of the 100 billion galaxies, with the naked eye. And one of them is quite difficult to see unless you've got very good eyesight.

Radio waves. There's another thing. Heinrich Hertz, when he discovered radio waves in 1887, he called them radio waves because they radiated. And somebody said to him, "Well what's the point of these Heinrich? What's the point of these radio waves that you've found?" And he said, "Well, I've no idea. But I guess somebody will find a use for them someday." And that's what they do, radio. That's what they discovered.

Anyway, so, the biggest thing that's invisible to us is what we don't know. It is incredible how little we know. Thomas Edison once said, "We don't know one percent of one millionth about anything."

And I've come to the conclusion because you've asked this other question, "What's another thing you can't see?" The point, most of us. What's the point? (Laughter) (Applause) You can't see a point. It's, by definition, dimensionless, like an electron, oddly enough.

But, the point, what I've got it down to is there are only two questions really worth asking. "Why are we here?" and "What should we do about it while we are? And to help you, I've got two things to leave you with, from two great philosophers, perhaps two of the greatest philosopher thinkers of the 20th Century. One a mathematician and an engineer, and the other a poet.

The first is Ludvig Vitgenštajn who said, "I don't know why we are here. But I'm pretty sure it's not in order to enjoy ourselves." (Laughter) He was a cheerful bastard wasn't he? (Laughter)

And secondly and lastly, W.H. Auden, one of my favorite poets, who said, "We are here on earth to help others. What the others are here for, I've no idea." (Laughter) (Applause)


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